Incognito: Bad Influences

By Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips.

Buy it HERE.

Recently I read other GNs by this same creative team: Reckless, Scene of the Crime, and Fade Out. All of them were solidly built stories. The artwork by Sean Phillips was clear and assured with an air of confidence.


A touch of Super-Hero.

While in Minneapolis for a family wedding I naturally looked up some old haunts of mine from 1991... a lot has changed. The Comic Book College of Knowledge on Nicollet moved down a few blocks into a certainly drabber and darker building. But the selection was still top-notch and didn't disappoint. I snatched up Incognito right away, thinking it was going to be a spy/crime type story. For the most part it was, infused with a small dose of superhero shenanigans.

Incognito is about Zach Overkill, a super-human crime stopper who once crossed the line and now is in hiding. His organization calls him back again, a secret govt. agency similar to Marvel's S.H.I.E.L.D., only it's called S.O.S. Zach has a physical connection -but only that- to his beautiful boss Zoe Zeppelin while she assigns him the task of bringing down a heavyweight terrorist named Simon Slaughter. Slaughter's terrorist org he calls Level Nine.

The pages that ensue follow a noir-infused look, with only hinted nods to Zach's superhuman makeup. Somebody shoots bullets at him, only to get him slightly riled as he yells 'hey quit it!'

An angle Zach's pursuing is getting another evil genius, holed up in a maximum security prison, Black Death, to think Zach Overkill has gone rogue. There's a couple of interesting characters thrown in for the bargain, and a cool looking fight sequence with Zach and a prostitute. I could tell Sean Phillips was proud of the splash page as he signed it large.

You can tell Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips love the Silver Age (roughly 1956 The Flash to around 1972 Marvel and DC) with all its clunky costumes and hardware. Nothing's sleek or refined, or wafer-thin. Costumes have bulk. And zippers. Yet the style is very quick and sketchy... like there's an egg timer for each panel's rendering. Where Phillips shines most is in his character's expressions and body language. His use of shadow is the best I've seen done in comics, and I continually study his placement of blacks for my own mental reference for my art.

Is this a great story? Well, kind of. It's another one where you have to invest a little effort in memorizing names and relationships, and taking time out to know what world they are building. Usually that bogs me down, and my first reaction is to ask myself is this 'weird world' of 'Super Scientists' necessary? Could you tell it the same way in a 'normal' time line? Not really, there's enough strange stuff to require some world-building.

Next Tuesday:

Still some summer left, why not try a deadly holiday at
Happy Hill #3
By Joe Mulvey and Rich Douek

Tim's Notebook

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Felton CA 95018