Sunday, March 18, 2018 • Afternoon Edition • "For when you've got nowhere else to go."

The Outhouse - The Greatest Comic Book Forum

Comics news, comic book reviews, feature articles about comics, interviews with comic creators, plus the greatest comic book and pop culture discussion in the Outhouse forums!


Call for Reviews - Incognito: Bad Influences #1

Hey you! Reader! Want to be a part of the GREATEST COMIC BOOK AND GEEK COMMUNITY on the web?! Well, they're not accepting new members, but we'll take anyone here, so why not sign up for a free acount? It's fast and it's easy, like your mom! Sign up today! Membership spots are limited!*

*Membership spots not really limited!

Royal Nonesuch

Staff Writer

Postby Royal Nonesuch » Mon Nov 01, 2010 12:51 pm

Narratively, this issue did a lot of set-up and catch up. It really ran down most of what you need to know from the first volume, and lets us into Zack's head so we can see how it all affected him. It's a nice, meandering story that shows us the typical day in the life of our main character.

Sean Phillips is the real star here. He draws the issue with some classic comic book storytelling layouts, which provides a great sense of pacing and storytelling. It's a joy to look at, and the story is served so well by it.

Also, as an aside, Brubaker mentions Winter's Bone in the back matter, which is a nice little movie I saw this past summer but it didn't really find much of an audience. That has nothing to do with anything, but I was glad to see it.
User avatar


Staff Writer

Postby Punchy » Mon Nov 01, 2010 1:08 pm

starlord wrote:

It"s CANCELLED????!!!! When the hell did that happen?!?!

Change of plans. Superboy #1 is my pick for this week.

What was solicited as #7 and #8 has been changed into a separate mini-series, Widowmaker.
User avatar

Stephen Day

Wrasslin' Fan

Postby Stephen Day » Mon Nov 01, 2010 4:23 pm

starlord wrote:

It"s CANCELLED????!!!! When the hell did that happen?!?!

Change of plans. Superboy #1 is my pick for this week.

Ah crap, I though I'd be able to participate next week, now I can't. :smt011
User avatar


Staff Writer

Postby Punchy » Mon Nov 01, 2010 6:13 pm

Incognito: Bad Influences #1 - Untitled - Brubaker & Phillips

Story - When there's a new Brubaker/Phillips comic on the shelves, it's an event. It doesn't matter whether it's Criminal or Incognito or Sleeper or Little Lulu, this creative team is one of the most fertile and exciting in comics, and has been for the last 7 years. When it comes to these two, you expect quality.

And the first chapter of Incognito: Bad Influences certainly doesn't skimp on the quality, this is top-notch stuff, and I already can't wait for the next instalment.

Incognito has always been superheroes at their darkest, at their most noir, it's so dark that it's almost not even superheroes. Brubaker is playing a lot here with notions of heroism, and in the world of Incognito, the line between good and bad is a very murky one. Zack Overkill may now be working for 'Good Guys', but he sees very little difference between his work for S.O.S. and what he did before as a 'villain' with the Black Death. Zack Himself has remained largely unchanged by his switch of allegiances, he is still filled to the brim with disdain for non-powered people, and he hates his secret identity, it seems that regardless which side he is on, his life still sucks. These parallels with the first series are interesting, but Zack's neverending pessimism, and frankly, his whining, do serve to make him quite an unlikeable protagonist. But that's just one of the things that sets Incognito apart.

The murky line between good and evil theme continues with Zack's new mission, to go after an S.O.S. Agent who went undercover in an Evil Organisation and went native. Yes there are shades of Sleeper here, with allegiance upon allegiance being played opposite eachother, but obviously Brubaker knows the similarities, seeing as he wrote both stories, and I'm willing to bet things will go in quite a different direction.

Another aspect of Incognito I love that gets a good outing here is the fact that it's rooted in the world of the old Pulp magazines, and full of nods and homages to them. This is played somewhat for laughs with characters like 'GI Gorilla' and 'The Nuclear Nazis', but we also get a more detailed exploration of what the Shadow-analogue Lazarus was actually like, and we see the correlation between the Pulp world, and the present world, in the story of Ignatius Beekman. I love the sort of secret, hidden world Brubaker has built into this story, mainly teased through subtle hints in the first story, and then expanded upon in Jess Nevins' fake articles. Now thankfully it seems that Bru will be exploring the Pulpy past more in Bad Influences, and that can only be a good thing. Noir is all about the past catching up with you, and unfortunately for Zack, what's catching up with him are things he didn't even do!

Incognito is plain and simple, just good comics, so reader may gripe that we're getting this instead of Criminal, but to me, a Brubaker/Phillips joint is the same quality regardless of genre, and rest assured, this is quality.

Art - It seems kind of silly to do these as separate sections, because there's such a strong relationship between Ed Brubaker's words and Sean Phillips' pencils, it's hard to really get one without the other. It's the perfect fit for this kind of story, and we even get some nudity!

Best Line - 'Only thing we're sure of is you're not a clone', not the most snappy of lines, but it really threw me for a loop, what the hell is Zack if he's not a clone?

User avatar

Windom URL

Rain Partier

Postby Windom URL » Mon Nov 01, 2010 8:30 pm


This first issue is pretty much all exposition, ironic after the snarky lack of recap on the inside cover. This is a comic that tells you stuff instead of showing it, through the heavy-handed dual narratives that switch narrators in the middle of the issue without any clear delineation, even a differently-colored caption box.

That was actually one of my least favorites devices used--my initial reading of the comic was interrupted and I had to skip ahead to figure out I was reading narrative captions by Zoe Zeppelin instead of Zack after the break because I couldn't reconcile narration and narrator. This left me shaking my head at how an attempt to be clever could backfire like that on a writer--I'm sure it seemed like a good idea at the time but I'm not sure why.

In the initial miniseries, Zack goes from a powerful thug who uses his powers to take whatever he wants to a nobody in a dead end job and his reaction to that created an inner conflict that was interesting to explore--here in the sequel, he gets the excitement back and no longer has to slave away in an office but whines about having to do things like pay his rent with the gov't money he receives, or buying groceries. The interesting internal conflict has been replaced by mundane moaning about his new life, complete with screwing the boss. Compared to the first volume of the title, this exploration of Zack's interior life comes up lacking substance and depth.

The parts showing Lazarus and Zack's connection to him are the most interesting things I:BI #1 has going for it, but the confrontation with IG is merely a method to put Zack's credibility in doubt and set up his undercover op. The IG story doesn't even make sense, as the explosives he uses are suspected to come from one of Lazarus' old bases--it's highly unlikely IG as a lowly stool pigeon would be given access or even knowledge of Lazarus' secret hideouts or tech. I just don't see it, and it just seems like an easy means to an end.

Sean Phillips artwork looks good here, if a little static with many basically repetitive panel compositions. There's nothing very impressive or memorable, but it serves to illustrate the exposition-heavy issue well.

I had the feeling I'd read a lot of this issue before so when I got to Jess Nevin's article on pulp history I wasn't that surprised it also gave me a sense of deja vu. I've read about the Phantom Detective elsewhere and found the article weak and a lot less informative than even the wiki page for said pulp hero. The legacy of the longest running pulp character is so underplayed by Nevins he neglects to even mention, for instance, that two early Batman editors, Jack Schiff and Mort Wesinger, may have been inspired by their earlier days on the pulps to adapt PD's red beacon in the sky to the bat-signal used by Batman, or even that the exploits of the Phantom Detective have been reprinted over the last several years by Adventure House as well as earlier reprints of the material. The PD has a strong fanbase in the pulp community, in fact in 2006 the first new story using the character in 50 years was written. The PD inspired no one, Jess? Really?

I found this to be a very disappointing return to Incognito.

User avatar


Staff Writer

Postby Punchy » Tue Nov 02, 2010 3:08 am

Surely the big 'The Old Man's Problem' box was indication enough that the narrative changed? It may not be obvious that it's Zoe Zeppelin, but it's clearly not Zack because of that box.

More than one person here has reviewed the Recap Page in almost as great a detail as the actual comic, makes me laugh!
User avatar


Everybody lies!

Postby GOSD » Wed Nov 03, 2010 7:19 pm

Victorian Squid wrote:
I wish I knew if I'd like it enough to! It's such a conundrum.

And if I did like it, what edition to buy?
All of them.
User avatar


Review Grouper

Postby 48THRiLLS » Wed Nov 03, 2010 7:30 pm

shit... did I forget to review this?


I thought this was a solid start to Brubaker's mistress from Criminal. I really enjoyed the first Incognito story and I am sure that this will be just as good as the aforementioned. If I had a complaint it would be that it muddled a little too much at the beginning (to probably get new readers up to speed) and took a bit to get to the real plot but now that we are past that I am guessing #2 will be just as strong as anything Bru and Phillips have done together. I did really like all the villains they showed in his flashback, I hope they revisit some of em. I am gonna score this a little lower than I would have liked considering most stuff by these two get 10's but a average comic by these guys is still better than most.


ART - 9

User avatar


Regular-Sized Poster

Postby guitarsmashley » Thu Nov 04, 2010 12:50 pm

stop trying to shirk responsibility and put up the article already.


Postby ****** » Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:27 pm

You want it so bad you do it.


Postby ****** » Sun Nov 07, 2010 5:02 pm

Incognito: Bad Influences #1

There's only one fault I can find with Incognito.

It's not Criminal.

That minor nitpick aside, pretty much anything Brubaker, Phillips and Staples do together has been one of my favorite comics over the past couple of years. If they want to pulp it up with Incognito for a while that's okay by me.

There was a lot of 'where are they now' to this issue, but it still did a great job of setting up the current series. If the transition to Sleeper style layouts on that last page didn't give you a nerd boner, you should probably stick to your Reader's Digest subscription and Lifetime movie marathons.

Story: 8
Art: 10
Overall: 9


Postby ****** » Sun Nov 07, 2010 5:19 pm

Royal Nonesuch wrote:Also, as an aside, Brubaker mentions Winter's Bone in the back matter, which is a nice little movie I saw this past summer but it didn't really find much of an audience. That has nothing to do with anything, but I was glad to see it.

The only thing that bums me out about reading these in trades is that I miss out on Brubaker's recommendations. I watched Winter's Bone a couple of nights ago, really good (and depressing) movie.


Postby ****** » Sun Nov 07, 2010 6:44 pm

Image ... ces-1.html
User avatar

Eli Katz


Postby Eli Katz » Mon Nov 08, 2010 12:55 pm

That's a perfect score for the book.
User avatar


Staff Writer

Postby SilverPhoenix » Wed Nov 10, 2010 2:04 pm

Incognito Bad Influences #1

After “waiting in the wings" for 2 years, this reviewer gets a chance to jump into this world of madcap pulp? Was the first impression enough to call this comic a winner?

Depending on the Entertainment medium, each era is defined by works that transcend all other elements to be revered as true classics. It is at that point, each work is judged mostly on its merits, and other factors become less and less relevant. Whether the work did well at the Box Office/Store Front/Newsstand/Book Store probably Is probably the least important factor as to what becomes a classic when put against this standard. Other factors like relevance, message, “originality” and overall quality take center stage in the discussion. For some, it is usually when “Justice” is served in the entertainment medium, which is not always fair to the best works, when they are released, no matter the medium. The overall fate of the book reviewed is still being decided, but one piece of work that is considered one of the front runners for becoming a Graphic Novel Classic, is the Ed Brubaker Written Series “Incognito”

As someone who didn’t jump on the initial bandwagon, I decided to do some research on the title in question before I wrote my review, so I could better understand the overall storyline that I was going to be right in the middle of. It also gives me some knowledge to give a short background on the series for those who haven’t been following this series, as well. In the world of “Incognito” the pulp Super Hero and Villains have existed since the early 19th Century, and have become a fixture in society. The story we are told follows one of these pulp “icons” in former Villain Zack Overkill, who is trying to reform from his past. In exchange for turning in his former Science Syndicate “The Black Death”, he is put into the Witness Protection Program, which proves to be unsuccessful, as his former employers hunt him down. In an effort to protect himself, Zack joins the SOS agency which is in charge of Superhuman Regulation, which brings us to where we are today with Bad Influences #1. With such a reputation behind it, I came into the book with expectations of fulfilling its hype, something that his book does in spades.

When it comes to Ed Brubaker, I have no misgivings in saying he is my favorite Comic Book writer working today. His work on Captain America has been one of the reasons why I’m still reading Super Hero Comic Books, and despite some missteps (Another hearty F*ck You to Marvel Corporate for Mandating that Steve Rogers come back “5 years too early”), it has been one of the most consistent books on the stands for my money. To my surprise (though I shouldn’t be shocked), Incognito Bad Influences is probably my favorite thing I’ve read of his this year, despite not reading the first series. From the beginning, we are dropped into a story where we not only get an extremely good look at the main character, but the world he is now in as he deals with a life geared towards redemption and the struggles that go along with it. What is more impressive still is the world that is built around the story in question, and how everything matters in its own way, especially how an old man serves as a way to uproot Zack Overkill’s life. When you sit down and take in all of the nuances of the story, it’s a joy to see how layered and well written everything is.

For someone who thinks the writing of a Comic Book is the most important ingredient to the worthiness of the overall product, I personally need reminders as to how important Art is to shaping the story we are reading, something that Sean Phillips does in an empathetic manner. From face value, the art itself doesn’t stand out, as it is not drawn in a way that is meant to instantly grab you. That isn’t to say the art isn’t good, because it’s definitely well drawn, with attention to make each character look unique, but most people would say that it couldn’t hold a candle to the drawings in Green Lantern or New Avengers. However, like the writing, the art is something that is appreciated when looked upon with a nuanced eye. From everything Brubaker has tried to create with Incognito, the art brings that vision to life, as the drawings help bring the pulp world to life, giving us an environment of wonder, but of cynical wonder as it feels like the world’s people have burned too many times by Super Powered Humans who have abused their great powers. A theme that is shown throughout the whole story, as people fear the inevitable ruination of their lives whenever one makes his or her face known by their own volition, or not.

With everything else that has been said, another thing that the creators should get praised for is how accessible this book is. It doesn’t tell you everything, but it gives you more than enough so this Issue stands on its own, and can be read without prior knowledge. In fact, I say it does such a good job, that those who are interested enough to catch up, will be compelled to do so after reading this book. The only flaw that this book has is that it seems slightly better than average on first read, and doesn’t get appreciated till one sits down, and takes a good look at what’s being presented. Despite that, Incognito Bad Influences is a great comic on its own, and an even better introduction into this world. Bad Influences #1 is a beyond worthy addition to a series that’s going to be a top contender to be named a classic.

The Verdict

Story ****3/4 (9.5): It’s very rare for a first issue to be rated this high in this category, but it deserves it. From first page to last, you are engaged in the story.

Art **** (8): While the art does not “WOW” at first sight, it delivers us into a World that’s had enough of Supers, which only enhances the story told

Accessibility **** (8): I was surprised at not only how well I could follow things, but how good of a first impression this was of the Incognito Universe. No one should be intimidated by starting here.

Final Judgment: ****1/2 (9 out of 10)

leave a comment with facebook

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: FaceBook [Linkcheck] and 36 guests