Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips have proven time and again that they are masters at comic book noir. I’ve read each of the Criminal books and none of them have faltered, they’ve only gotten better. They really started to prove their prowess when they threw the super-hero genre into the mix with Sleeper under Wildstorm Comics. With Incognito: Bad Influences, they’ve proven that even with all they’ve created together, there’s more to be done.
The first Incognito trade was great; it was smart, well-crafted, pushed the super-hero genre, everything I look for in a capes book. It built on the stuff that Brubaker and Phillips were doing at the time with Criminal but it also brought back some of the ideas they’d started in Sleeper; merging Noir and super-heros, an idea that only seems easy in hindsight but that was simple brilliance when they did it. It was bringing up some of the stuff that had been done in Batman and some of the ideas that would eventually be talked about in Daredevil but the beauty was that we were discovering new characters as they built the world. The world was fresh and a little deconstructionist in the way they talked about origins and named their characters.
Bad Influences continues to build the world of Incognito. It throws new layers into the main character, Zack Overkill but it also says a lot about the depths Brubaker had already plunged outside the books, before he even put 1′s to 0′s in its creation. There were obviously ideas brought up in the first book where he developed the main characters that he begins to explore more intricately in the second book: things like how the super-powered beings all got their powers and how their worlds are all tied together by some mysterious overlapping construct or plan. There is a lesson to be learned here for writers and creators – Brubaker wrote both of the books so that if that was all you got, it was ok. But if he had the chance to write more, he left himself plenty of fertilizer. I read Bad Influences in a single day – something I don’t often do because of my busy schedule but I finished the book wanting more and happy to sit down and write my praises of this book.
Now that I’m done writing my review of Incognito: Bad Influences, I’ll have to go hunt through my stacks for something else by this brilliant creative team.