Incognito: Bad Influences #1 Review

Zack Overkill is back and with him returns everything that was great about the first Incognito collection; Ed Brubaker’s classic and cliff-hanger crime storytelling, Sean Phillips gritty and perfect-fit art, Val Staple’s absolutely gorgeous colors, and a sci-fi thriller espionage story that is bound to keep you re-reading and dying of inpatient agony as you wait for the next issue. With the exception of The Return of Bruce Wayne #1 I don’t know if I’ve drooled as much in a review as I’m about to do.

I enjoyed every page of this entire book. Every freaking page.

The original Incognito was such a fun read for me in a couple of senses but first, because it was original. Zack Overkill and his story isn’t quite like anything else I had on my shelf. Add to that the sci-fi/pulp/noir/gritty world Brubaker built around him and Sean Phillips pencils putting everything into perspective took me for a ride that I revisited more than twice. And more often than not the recipe to a good sequel is to build on the original. Empire Strikes Back was great because it was just more Star Wars goodness. And so far Bad Influences has all the ingredients from the original. It’s been what feels like about a year and Zack is back narrating us along his new life of being one of the good guys, he still lives in a crappy apartment, does everything he can to keep from killing the annoying “normal” people around him, we learn more about his always-interesting past, he’s still getting the girl, and he’s still in a ton of trouble. As expected issue one is the set up; catch us up, give us some information, and throw us into the fire. And a fire is exactly what were going to get thrown into.

As excited as I was to get back to Zack I was equally excited to catch up with The Black Death (big scary guy from the first story) who sadly didn’t make an appearance; however, Brubaker took it up a notch by introducing several new villains the most notable being Simon Slaughter, who appears to be our new antagonist as Zack will have to go under cover in an attempt to bring him down – a mission that is sure to have it’s temptations on our once-bad-guy anti-hero. Like I said, I was really looking forward to getting back to the trouble Zack’s in with Black Death but the introduction to Simon Slaughter (what a great name), along with his inability to escape his past with Lazarus is more than enough to keep me interested. And I can’t help but wonder if there holding off Black Death for a third run. Mmmm…

And besides the great story set up, besides the gorgeous pencils and colors is the added features that make this much more than just a comic book, it’s more true to the ‘pulp magazine’ style. Brubaker’s note to the reader at the end was unexpected and an exciting read. And each issue – I think each issue – will feature a back page article; this weeks focusing on the history of a long forgotten pulp hero The Phantom Detective. I didn’t know this was coming and read the whole article, it was an interesting read into the history of pre-Superman comics and made me appreciate the purchase all the more. Not to mention there were no ads. Not one. For $3.50 your getting a great story, phenomenal art, a note from the author, a 2-page article on comic history, and no ads.

Worth every cent. I’d pay double for this.

But don’t tell anyone.

Gritty pulp/noir comics aren’t for everyone. But if you like comics, if you enjoy sci-fi, enjoy crime stories, and you made it to this point in my review you either bought the book and are nodding your head in agreement to how much fun it was to read or your the perfect person for this book. It’s great. It’s fun. I got my money’s worth. And I’m going to go read it again right now.


Pros Cons
A great set-up for what feels like a great sequel. If you liked the first story, you’ll love it. And the added features make it even more enjoable None. Nothing. There was absolutely nothing I didn’t enjoy about sitting down and reading this



  1. Tommy says:

    I liked this – though not as much as you. I’ll buy anything Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips put out as their stuff is so good. I think the Criminal books are much stronger material than this though.

  2. Imisswildstorm says:

    I didn’t like it at all. Is it me or it sean’s art slipping, i liked his style better before (2003). When i was reading this issue so many sleeper triggers bothered me. It felt like sleeper but diminished, not as interesting..well duh the wildstorm universe is pretty badass. I hate those science guns, i would’ve like normal guns.

    It’s the first issue so i’ll check the next but i’m starting to lose interest. I wasn’t a big fan of the previous story and the incognito universe is really boring, it doesn’t feel “alive”. Maybe Ed needs to make it more international like he did with sleeper, go to that country,jobs etc..


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