Incognito: Bad Influences

Incognito: Bad Influences
Incognito Bad Influences review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Icon - 978-0-7851-5155-5
  • Volume No.: 2
  • Release date: 2011
  • UPC: 9780785151555
  • Contains adult content?: yes
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no
  • CATEGORIES: Crime, Superhero

Depending on who knows him, Incognito’s protagonist is either Jack Andersen or Zack Overkill, and has been taken on one hell of a journey. He and his twin brother were once violent criminals working for an organisation called Black Death, which he sold out for a promise of anonymity in a new life. However, while not the sharpest tool in the box, there is some innate goodness to Jack, and when his life unravelled during the first Incognito the choices he sometimes randomly made ensured his survival. Along the way he learned a lot more about himself, about Black Death and about why people with super powers exist on his world.

The pulp influences are stronger over the opening pages of a reformed Jack dealing with exotic criminals, which he goes about with relish, but it’s the downtime in another new identity as Jack Overton that’s getting to him. His way out is being assigned to locate an embedded SOS agent who’s not been communicating and is believed to have gone rogue.

As in the first Incognito Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips blend a noir crime story with superheroics, but whereas the first outing had some tension going for it, most of the background has now been revealed and the threats are therefore lesser. Moving toward what hasn’t been revealed would remove Incognito too far from noir crime, so that’s just mentioned in passing. Jack remains an fascinating character given a revealing internal dialogue via Brubaker’s captions, and Phillips is faultless, but when the villain finally moves centre stage they’re banal and unlikely, even if just about possible. Where Bad Influences betters its predecessor is with a strong ending, but it’s not enough.

Both volumes are combined in hardcover as Incognito: The Classified Edition.