The team of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips rarely disappoints. Sleeper set the bar pretty high for superpowered noir, and Criminal maintained a consistently high caliber throughout its existing stories, easily becoming the best crime comic on the shelves. Incognito is their most recent outing, and three issues in, it’s a doozy.
The story is simplicity. A major supervillain goes into witness protection after a shocking betrayal, but finds that he just can’t quite cope with normal life. The book maintains a darkly comedic tone throughout this issue as we meet a number of Zack’s old compatriots, criminals who now know where their snitch buddy is hiding, and see Zack’s already precarious cover story tumble into nonexistence. It seems as though Incognito is moving far faster than it should, but that may be part of the charm – each issue, and this one more so than most, is packed with action, fresh faces, and new problems for out… hero?… and enough genuine emotion to keep us invested in Zack Overkill.
The art, by Phillips, is largely phenomenal, though it functions much better when he’s working in in a slightly dimmer, dirtier setting. Compare the semi-cartoonish feel of the introduction of renegade criminal Ava Destruction at the book’s beginning as she stands in full daylight in the great outdoors, holding a futuristic laser pistol to the head of a former fed, to the book’s closing scene, featuring another new character met in a darkened apartment. Nonetheless, it’s been quite a while since I last saw Phillips cut loose with some superpowered action scenes, and his work on this issue was top-notch.
Ultimately, despite the horrible things happening regularly in Incognito, the easy confidence of Phillips and Brubaker make it a pleasure to read, easy to enjoy and strangely easy to become invested in a man with very few redeeming qualities.