by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, and Val Staples; Icon Comics
Comics have a pretty interesting and rich history that predates the dominance of Superhero comics: a pulpy time of detective stories and larger-than-life proto-superheroes. It’s like a kind of primordial soup of early comics organisms filled with adventure and camp and dastardly-do. Much like biological evolution, a lot of this early experimentation failed to thrive as business models and tastes changed, causing a winnowing of what comics are. Now, a lot of what survived the various comics epochs did so out of some form of superior quality and many books and ideas died out or were abandoned for good reason. However, like any evolutionary process, some pretty cool ideas, concepts, and characters were lost along the way. Incognito is Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' mad invention that reanimates some of the best elements of pulp crime and adventure comics and reinvigorates them with modern storytelling sensibilities. Incognito tells the story of Zack Overkill (who my brother maintains has the best name in all of comics) as he languishes, depowered in witness protection, pining for his old life as a heavy hitter for the imprisoned criminal mastermind Black Death and what happens to him when temptation gets the better of him. Incognito: Bad Influences continues the story of Overkill trying to make good in the face of temptation. These are excellent comics that exemplify everything I love about Brubaker/Phillips collaborations and really showcases the underappreciated magic of the pulp era. It's kind of like the comics equivalent of animatronic dinosaurs.
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