Ed Brubaker doesn’t need any more fans or kudos, but attention should really be paid to the latest issue of his ongoing supervillain-turned (sorta) good guy saga Incognito. Volume one was an excellent melding of Brubaker’s strengths as a writer of both crime comics and regular superhero stories. Sure, nowadays superheroes almost *have* to come all grim n’ gritty, but if sub-par Alan Moore knock-offs haven’t totally killed your palette for that certain mix of hardboiled spandex, Brubakers got it. As they say down at the Tautology Hut, if you like what he’s got, then he’s got what you like.
See, it’s pulpy trash, but it plays towards a real skill of Brubaker’s: he makes non-canon, brand-new super heroes seem real. Too often, when a writer wants to work outside of DC and Marvel’s toy box, the results are thinly veiled allegory of existing characters, or are too broadly painted to be of much value. It’s no surprise that the successes run more toward Powers and less towards …. Oh, I dunno….whatever WildStorm spent the 90′s crapping out.
The world of Brubaker’s protagonist doesn’t have this problem. Incognito: Bad Influences picks up with rehabbed ex-bad guy Zack Overkill still making his way in the world. A world filled to the brim with the exotic and meta. Not only is Overkill real, so is every character he meets or references. Imagine a Jess Nivens encyclopedia, brought to life. Every call back seems fully earned, and all of the little touches that over-exposition would normally kill ring subtle and true. I’m not interested in recapping the book – truthfully, it’s a minor appetizer to Volume Two, with the inciting incident planted squarely on the last page. But for those of you still on the fence (or still pissed that Brubaker’s the one who capped Cap), pick this one up now!