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Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips do cool things. It just pours out of them, it seems. Again and again, in series like CowardSleeper, and Criminal, they just make gripping adult tales with hard-hitting action, healthy doses of suspense, a little sex and violence, and compulsively readable dialogue. They've got it down, and it works. It works very well.

They do it again in Incognito, a nice take on superpowered action paired with some real-world drama. This time around, a superpowered villain is languishing in the Witness Protection Program after betraying a deadly cartel of megapowered baddies. The greatly named Zack Overkill and his twin were struck down in the first battle. Zack survived; his twin didn't. Now Zack is hiding out in the program, biding his time boringly, taking government-mandated pills to suppress his powers. Yet he yearns for something more. He's also still greatly mourning the loss of his brother, and he's finding his day-to-day existence as a file clerk (a paper-pusher in an increasingly paperless world, as he puts it) more and more ironic, and less and less fulfilling.

Just a fair warning for those so inclined: Incognito addresses several adult themes (yes, sex, violence, and adult language, but also drug use: When Zack begins taking illegal drugs, he finds out they cancel out the effects of the government's power-suppressing meds). Once Zack's powers return and he begins surreptitiously going out on superpowered adventures at night, the cartel he helped bring down (or the remnants of it, anyway) immediately notice. They're not only interested. They want revenge.

And thus Incognito kicks into full gear. This collection is as exciting as comics get, a gripping, powerful look at an antihero you can't help but be enthralled by. To read it is to be immediately addicted.

Reviewed by John Hogan on November 25, 2009

by Ed Brubaker

  • Publication Date: November 25, 2009
  • Genres: Graphic Novel
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Marvel
  • ISBN-10: 0785139796
  • ISBN-13: 9780785139799