This Time, Overkill is One of the Good Guys...

My history with Incognito is pretty important, at least in terms of my development as a sophisticated reader of comics. When I picked up the second printing of the first issue a year and a half ago, I hadn't just been reading superhero stories (I had, in fact, only recently begun reading superhero comics again- before that, I mostly subsisted on Fables and DMZ) but there was something about it that caught my eye. I would like to believe it was the beautiful Sean Phillips cover, but it was probably the big bold block name BRUBAKER staring out at me from the front cover.

Whatever got me to open the book, though, was irrelevant once I got inside: the first mini was beautifully plotted and visually stunning. If had known anything worth knowing, this would have been no surprise: Brubaker/Phillips is perhaps the most consistently brilliant creative team out there and they work so well together that they may as well be considered to be one unit rather than two people working in unison.

This context, (a terrifying one, if you're a creator) made me as excited for their follow up as it made me nervous- it would have been hard to top that first mini, except that this team is just so damn good they always manage (somehow) to up the ante. Incognito: Bad Influences #1 is no exception.

The comic looks great, for one- Val Staples' flat, garish colors add a light to the stark world of Phillips' pages, and the whole package makes for one seriously pulpy comic. It's a self-referential book, and at points absurdly silly, but these are virtues rather than vices: Brubaker knows what he's doing, from the goofy supervillain stories at the beginning (stories featuring villains named Zhing Fu, the Asian Underlord and G.I. Gorilla, stories that I want to read, dammit!) all the way through to the slightly cliched reveal near the end and the revelation the concludes the serial, and what he's doing here is world-building.

The things that are going on here are bigger than Zack Overkill, and they're going to swallow him up whole. This is, I think, an almost perfect piece of serial storytelling, even if it is a little exposition heavy: it gets the reader up to speed, it fully illuminates the world which is being experienced and it has some fun stuff (did I mention Dark Leopold and his Nuclear Nazis?) that functions as a side to the heavy mystery and conspiracy stories that Brubaker does so well.

Yea, this is good comics, and I can't wait to see where it goes next.

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