Review: Incognito: Bad Influences #1

Published on October 29th, 2010

Ed Brubaker is one of the biggest names in comic books right now, and there’s a reason for it. The guy writes awesome comics. The guy is writing Captain America, and Secret Avengers, plus he just finished up the Steve Rogers: Super Soldier mini-series. But now it’s time for him to return to his Pulp Comic, Incognito and I couldn’t be more excited for it. If you haven’t read the first trade I highly recommend it, that’s the book that really got me into Ed Brubaker’s stuff. And let’s not forget artist Sean Phillips who also did the first Incognito book, and does the art for Criminal, another book with Ed Brubaker.

icognito_2_1If you’re not familiar with the story Incognito centers around Zack Overkill a former super-villain, but after his twin brother died he switched sides and testified against his former super-villain friends. Afterwords Zack was forced to take drugs that neutralized his super powers and join the Witness Protection Plan. After getting bored with a normal life Zack found a way to get his powers back and started fighting crime for kicks which led to him joining the good guys in the SOS.

So now that we’re caught up let’s take a look at Incognito: Bad Influences. This book takes place one year later and Zack has been enjoying life as a hero taking down some pretty heavy super-villains and having an affair with his supervisor’s boss. Unfortunately the SOS requires Zack to have a secret identity and Zack is forced to spend part of his life living like a normal person, which annoys the crap out of him. So things are going good enough for Zack until he crosses paths with an old man on the street, Zack doesn’t know who this guy is, but this guy has a serious problem with Zack.

One day when Zack returns to his apartment where he finds a bomb in his kitchen, the bomb goes off destroying his home, but leaving him pretty much unscathed thanks to his super powers. It turns out the old man used to work for Lazarus The Returned Man, who was a superhero back in the day and whenever he got killed would just have his mind transferred to a clone body, which is where Zack and his brother actually came from. Here’s the problem, when the old man worked for Lazarus he ended up being beaten so bad in 1943 by some bad guys it put him in a coma until 2009. So one minute he was twenty, the next minute he was a feeble old man. So when the guy saw Zack he thought it was Lazarus and decided to get some revenge. But Zack accidentally killed the guy with one punch. The SOS uses this to their advantage and make a big deal out of arresting Zack, so now these bad guys in a group called Level Nine don’t know what side Zack is on. So now SOS can use Zack as an undercover agent to retrieve another undercover agent who may have gone Native, so to speak.

I’m really into this book and I’m glad Brubaker decided to do another volume of it. I like how Brubaker is almost doing a parody of super heroes, but at the same time it’s a really entertaining and original story. Plus Brubaker and Phillips work very well together, I can’t think of another artist who could do this book. I’m really interested to see where they take this book, before it was believed that Zack was just a clone of Lazarus, but in this issue they say that he’s not a clone. So the question is what is Zack’s relationship to Lazarus? I’m thinking he’s a clone of a son or grandson. And I’m really interested in this other SOS agent that Zack has to go up against, has the guy lost his mind or is he still on the side of the SOS? I don’t know, but what I do know is that this book is awesome.

Ken Zeider