By Ed Brubaker (Writer), Sean Phillips (Art), and Val Staples (Colors)

Some Thoughts Before The Review: While I’d really rather not add another series to the old pull list, I couldn’t possibly ignore something new from the Criminal team of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. From concept to creative team, Incognito has all the right pieces to be a winner. That said, the series definitely has a bit of baggage to shed considering both the high bar set by Criminal and the hype that surrounds the project in general.

The Story: Serving as both a character introduction and an origin story, Incognito #1 introduces the reader to Zack Andersen, a man that was once known as Zack Overkill, one-half of the super-villain team called the Overkill Brothers. You see, Zack is now taking part in a criminal rehabilitation program set up to help captured super-villains reintegrate into society so that they can function “normally” thanks to a steady job and a side of power muting drugs. Zack doesn’t like his new lot in life all that much and, in the midst of a downward spiral involving drugs and ruminations about the nature of life and society, he decides to do something about it.

What’s Good: I really like the concepts and society on display in Incognito #1 and the overall tone of the book. Villains almost always prove to be compelling when given center stage and Zack Overkill is no exception. And while it’s a bit early to discuss the strength of the story, there are some interesting plot threads developed throughout the book that will definitely keep me around for at least another chapter or two.

On a technical level, the debut of Incognito impresses for the most part. The artwork by Sean Phillips is well-done and complimented almost perfectly by some stylish color work, courtesy of Val Staples. As for the writing, Brubaker effectively captures the personality and mindset of Zack Overkill through just the right mix of dialogue and narration.

What’s Not So Good: For as much as I like Brubaker’s handling of Zack Overkill, the character still comes across as a bit tired and cliché. In all honesty, I found the society being featured far more engaging that any particular aspect of the main character. Also worth noting is that a few scenes seem to lack a final layer of artistic polish, though I’m not entirely sure whether it is a problem with the artwork or the colors.

Conclusion: Incognito #1 is an interesting enough start to what should be a fun, dark series. While not quite as exciting as I had hoped, the issue contains enough hooks to keep me around for the near future. Besides, I expect things to improve quite a bit once Brubaker reveals more of Zack Overkill’s world and the characters that inhabit it.

Grade: C+

-Kyle Posluszny