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Comic review: Incognito: Bad Influences No. 1 

The Deal: Writer Ed Brubaker's and artist Sean Phillips' creator-owned, pulp-inspired crime/superhero title Incognito returns for another story arc. The series picks up with reformed villain Zack out of the witness protection program and officially (but hesitantly) working with the good guys. The tale quickly changes course, however, placing our anti-hero back behind "enemy lines."

The Good: It seems like I've been bitching about Brubaker's work in this column a lot recently. I'm a fan of the guy, but on books like Captain America (which he writes), he's started to regurgitate several of the same story lines — and he's become a bit of a "story padder," unnecessarily increasing the length of many adventures. Well, I'm happy to say that this first issue of Incognito makes me forget all of the bad things I've been saying about his stuff. Not only is the comic expertly paced (maximizing the title's "thriller" factor), but the dialogue is rich with humor and the depth of the characters practically bubbles over. On top of that, the pages are packed with action — which makes me wonder why he can't make Captain America a more lively book. Anyway ... the art is also amazing. I've always loved Phillips' gritty-yet-cartoony style and he doesn't disappoint this time around, either. Oh, and one last thing: The last time I recommended this title, it was partly because the book included articles by historian Jess Nevins about the history of classic pulp characters like The Shadow, Doc Savage and more. Well, the back-up articles are back as well, and — judging from the quality of the one featured this month (about The Phantom Detective) — the pieces are as good as ever.

The Bad: There's really nothing bad to say about this issue; the book's off to a great start. But, I've got to admit that I'm slightly afraid that Brubaker will slip into some of his bad habits as the Incognito series progresses. I'm trying to remain optimistic, but, dammit, I am nervous. We will see.

The Verdict: It's an entertaining read. Buy it.

Reviewed materials provided by Heroes Aren't Hard to Find:

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