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Underrated: Incognito

Time got away from me this week, so we’re rerunning an older column from yesteryear.

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Incognito


My local comic shop recently got the hardcover edition of Incognito in, and it last all of ten minutes on the table where it was in line for pricing as I picked it up and read what amounted to half the first issue before scooping it up before it ever actually made it to the shelf.

Written by Ed Brubaker, with art by Sean Phillips and colours by Val Staples, the hardcover collects both Incognito and the sequel Incognito: Bad Influences within its 360-odd pages as well an essay, a series cover gallery and some interesting process pieces. If you’ve read any of Brubaker and Phillips other work together, such as Criminal, Fatale or Kill Or Be Killed, then you probably have an idea what you’re in for. If you don’t… well, let’s just say you’re in for a very compelling story that you’ll probably want to read multiple times.

If you want to read the series’ synopsis, it’s below. If you don’t… well, skip the next paragraph, I guess. Either way, you’ll find the core premise of the comic below.

What if you were an ex-super villain hiding out in Witness Protection… but all you could think about were the days when the rules didn’t apply to you? Could you be a humdrum office clerk after being the best at years of leaving destruction in your wake? And what if you couldn’t stand it? What would you do then? 

This story is steeped in the pulp fiction of the 30’s and 40’s, stories that undeniably inspired the superhero fiction of today. Brubaker takes those early influences and fills out a world that has descended from them; there’s a very clear path in Incognito back to characters like the Shadow and the Spider (or rather Brubaker’s version thereof), and it gives the reader the sense that we’re barely scratching the surface with the characters and history revealed through the course of the hardcover’s 360-odd pages.

I was immediately taken in by the story as we learned more about Zack Overkill and how he went from a heavy hitting super villain to a lowly file clerk barely noticed by his coworkers. We see flashes of his mandated psychiatric appointments, the oh-so-real struggles he’s facing in a life that he’s not accustomed too. If you remove the super powered aspect from the opening part of the story, you can see a man struggling with his mental health amidst an unfulfilling life of boredom and depression. Is it any wonder that he eventually turns to drugs in order to find an escape?

Zach Overkill is an oddly likable guy despite never hiding (at least from us) what kind of man he used to be; whether this story is about his trying to find redemption, or a larger tale about whether a leopard can truly change its spots is one of the best parts about this book. Brubaker asks you not whether you can change for the better after making a horrible series of life choices, but whether others can accept your change. Whether they truly believe it, or if once they’ve labelled you a villain then that’s how they will always see you.

I should have expected good stuff from this book, but I wasn’t quite prepared with just how good it would be.

In a story that can be so much to so many, we’re left asking ourselves who we really are; are you really the person you think you are, or are you just a product of what this world has made you?


Join us next week where there will doubtless be another movie, series, comic or comic related thing discussed that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Underrated: Incognito

Time got away from me this week, so we’re rerunning an older column from yesteryear.

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Incognito


My local comic shop recently got the hardcover edition of Incognito in, and it last all of ten minutes on the table where it was in line for pricing as I picked it up and read what amounted to half the first issue before scooping it up before it ever actually made it to the shelf.

Written by Ed Brubaker, with art by Sean Phillips and colours by Val Staples, the hardcover collects both Incognito and the sequel Incognito: Bad Influences within its 360-odd pages as well an essay, a series cover gallery and some interesting process pieces. If you’ve read any of Brubaker and Phillips other work together, such as Criminal, Fatale or Kill Or Be Killed, then you probably have an idea what you’re in for. If you don’t… well, let’s just say you’re in for a very compelling story that you’ll probably want to read multiple times.

If you want to read the series’ synopsis, it’s below. If you don’t… well, skip the next paragraph, I guess. Either way, you’ll find the core premise of the comic below.

What if you were an ex-super villain hiding out in Witness Protection… but all you could think about were the days when the rules didn’t apply to you? Could you be a humdrum office clerk after being the best at years of leaving destruction in your wake? And what if you couldn’t stand it? What would you do then? 

This story is steeped in the pulp fiction of the 30’s and 40’s, stories that undeniably inspired the superhero fiction of today. Brubaker takes those early influences and fills out a world that has descended from them; there’s a very clear path in Incognito back to characters like the Shadow and the Spider (or rather Brubaker’s version thereof), and it gives the reader the sense that we’re barely scratching the surface with the characters and history revealed through the course of the hardcover’s 360-odd pages.

I was immediately taken in by the story as we learned more about Zack Overkill and how he went from a heavy hitting super villain to a lowly file clerk barely noticed by his coworkers. We see flashes of his mandated psychiatric appointments, the oh-so-real struggles he’s facing in a life that he’s not accustomed too. If you remove the super powered aspect from the opening part of the story, you can see a man struggling with his mental health amidst an unfulfilling life of boredom and depression. Is it any wonder that he eventually turns to drugs in order to find an escape?

Zach Overkill is an oddly likable guy despite never hiding (at least from us) what kind of man he used to be; whether this story is about his trying to find redemption, or a larger tale about whether a leopard can truly change its spots is one of the best parts about this book. Brubaker asks you not whether you can change for the better after making a horrible series of life choices, but whether others can accept your change. Whether they truly believe it, or if once they’ve labelled you a villain then that’s how they will always see you.

I should have expected good stuff from this book, but I wasn’t quite prepared with just how good it would be.

In a story that can be so much to so many, we’re left asking ourselves who we really are; are you really the person you think you are, or are you just a product of what this world has made you?


Join us next week where there will doubtless be another movie, series, comic or comic related thing discussed that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Underrated: Incognito

Time got away from me this week, so we’re rerunning an older column from yesteryear.

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Incognito


My local comic shop recently got the hardcover edition of Incognito in, and it last all of ten minutes on the table where it was in line for pricing as I picked it up and read what amounted to half the first issue before scooping it up before it ever actually made it to the shelf.

Written by Ed Brubaker, with art by Sean Phillips and colours by Val Staples, the hardcover collects both Incognito and the sequel Incognito: Bad Influences within its 360-odd pages as well an essay, a series cover gallery and some interesting process pieces. If you’ve read any of Brubaker and Phillips other work together, such as Criminal, Fatale or Kill Or Be Killed, then you probably have an idea what you’re in for. If you don’t… well, let’s just say you’re in for a very compelling story that you’ll probably want to read multiple times.

If you want to read the series’ synopsis, it’s below. If you don’t… well, skip the next paragraph, I guess. Either way, you’ll find the core premise of the comic below.

What if you were an ex-super villain hiding out in Witness Protection… but all you could think about were the days when the rules didn’t apply to you? Could you be a humdrum office clerk after being the best at years of leaving destruction in your wake? And what if you couldn’t stand it? What would you do then? 

This story is steeped in the pulp fiction of the 30’s and 40’s, stories that undeniably inspired the superhero fiction of today. Brubaker takes those early influences and fills out a world that has descended from them; there’s a very clear path in Incognito back to characters like the Shadow and the Spider (or rather Brubaker’s version thereof), and it gives the reader the sense that we’re barely scratching the surface with the characters and history revealed through the course of the hardcover’s 360-odd pages.

I was immediately taken in by the story as we learned more about Zack Overkill and how he went from a heavy hitting super villain to a lowly file clerk barely noticed by his coworkers. We see flashes of his mandated psychiatric appointments, the oh-so-real struggles he’s facing in a life that he’s not accustomed too. If you remove the super powered aspect from the opening part of the story, you can see a man struggling with his mental health amidst an unfulfilling life of boredom and depression. Is it any wonder that he eventually turns to drugs in order to find an escape?

Zach Overkill is an oddly likable guy despite never hiding (at least from us) what kind of man he used to be; whether this story is about his trying to find redemption, or a larger tale about whether a leopard can truly change its spots is one of the best parts about this book. Brubaker asks you not whether you can change for the better after making a horrible series of life choices, but whether others can accept your change. Whether they truly believe it, or if once they’ve labelled you a villain then that’s how they will always see you.

I should have expected good stuff from this book, but I wasn’t quite prepared with just how good it would be.

In a story that can be so much to so many, we’re left asking ourselves who we really are; are you really the person you think you are, or are you just a product of what this world has made you?


Join us next week where there will doubtless be another movie, series, comic or comic related thing discussed that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Milestone Returns Today!

Following the announcement on the Milestone panel at DC FanDome: Hall of Heroes, today sees the release of the first of the classic Milestone line on digital platforms such as Comixology, Amazon Kindle, Apple, and others. 

Today sees the release of Hardware: The Man in the Machine which will be followed by Icon in October.

Hardware: The Man in the Machine (2010)

Written by Dwayne McDuffie
Art by Denys Cowan and J.J. Birch
$12.99
On Sale now

This first-ever HARDWARE collection introduces inventor/engineer Curt Metcalf, who begins his adventures by breaking free of his employer, businessman Edwin Alva, who refused to share the profits from Metcalf’s many creations. Discovering that Alva is tied to organized crime and learning that no law enforcement agency would touch him, Metcalf created the high-tech Hardware armor that enabled him to take on his corrupt boss.

Hardware: The Man in the Machine (2010)

Icon: A Hero’s Welcome (1999)

Written by M.D. Bright and Dwayne McDuffie
Art by M.D. Bright
$12.99
On Sale October 6

The flagship character from Milestone Comics is back in this new printing of the classic title collecting ICON #1-8. This is the title that introduced Augustus Freeman, a successful lawyer who covertly uses his alien super-powers to help those in need. But when a teenaged girl from the streets convinces him to use his abilities to inspire his people and becomes his sidekick, Rocket, the affluent Augustus embraces his true destiny and becomes Icon, the hero of Dakota.

Icon: A Hero’s Welcome (1999)

Icon Vol. 2: The Mothership Connection (2010)

Written by Dwayne McDuffie
Art by M.D. Bright and Mike Gustovich
$16.99
On Sale October 13

In 1869, the life pod of an adult alien crashed in the cotton fields of the South. Discovered by a slave woman, the extraterrestrial’s genetic structure was reconfigured, and he was transformed into an African American baby. Now, over a hundred and twenty years later, Augustus Freeman is a successful lawyer who covertly uses his alien super-powers to help those in need. But when a teenaged girl from the streets convinces him to use his abilities to inspire his people, the affluent Augustus embraces his true destiny and becomes Icon, the hero of Dakota.

Icon Vol. 2: The Mothership Connection (2010)

Underrated: Incognito

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Incognito


My local comic shop recently got the hardcover edition of Incognito in, and it last all of ten minutes on the table where it was in line for pricing as I picked it up and read what amounted to half the first issue before scooping it up before it ever actually made it to the shelf.

Written by Ed Brubaker, with art by Sean Phillips and colours by Val Staples, the hardcover collects both Incognito and the sequel Incognito: Bad Influences within its 360-odd pages as well an essay, a series cover gallery and some interesting process pieces. If you’ve read any of Brubaker and Phillips other work together, such as Criminal, Fatale or Kill Or Be Killed, then you probably have an idea what you’re in for. If you don’t… well, let’s just say you’re in for a very compelling story that you’ll probably want to read multiple times.

If you want to read the series’ synopsis, it’s below. If you don’t… well, skip the next paragraph, I guess. Either way, you’ll find the core premise of the comic below.

What if you were an ex-super villain hiding out in Witness Protection… but all you could think about were the days when the rules didn’t apply to you? Could you be a humdrum office clerk after being the best at years of leaving destruction in your wake? And what if you couldn’t stand it? What would you do then? 

This story is steeped in the pulp fiction of the 30’s and 40’s, stories that undeniably inspired the superhero fiction of today. Brubaker takes those early influences and fills out a world that has descended from them; there’s a very clear path in Incognito back to characters like the Shadow and the Spider (or rather Brubaker’s version thereof), and it gives the reader the sense that we’re barely scratching the surface with the characters and history revealed through the course of the hardcover’s 360-odd pages.

I was immediately taken in by the story as we learned more about Zack Overkill and how he went from a heavy hitting super villain to a lowly file clerk barely noticed by his coworkers. We see flashes of his mandated psychiatric appointments, the oh-so-real struggles he’s facing in a life that he’s not accustomed too. If you remove the super powered aspect from the opening part of the story, you can see a man struggling with his mental health amidst an unfulfilling life of boredom and depression. Is it any wonder that he eventually turns to drugs in order to find an escape?

Zach Overkill is an oddly likable guy despite never hiding (at least from us) what kind of man he used to be; whether this story is about his trying to find redemption, or a larger tale about whether a leopard can truly change its spots is one of the best parts about this book. Brubaker asks you not whether you can change for the better after making a horrible series of life choices, but whether others can accept your change. Whether they truly believe it, or if once they’ve labelled you a villain then that’s how they will always see you.

I should have expected good stuff from this book, but I wasn’t quite prepared with just how good it would be.

In a story that can be so much to so many, we’re left asking ourselves who we really are; are you really the person you think you are, or are you just a product of what this world has made you?


Join us next week where there will doubtless be another movie, series, comic or comic related thing discussed that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Preview: Empress #7

Empress #7

(W) Mark Millar (A/CA) Stuart Immonen
Rated T+
In Shops: Nov 23, 2016
SRP: $5.99

This astounding series climax shows family turn against each other and old secrets crawl out of the woodwork as Morax finally hunts his wife and children down. An action-packed, gory end to the first volume of Millar and Immonen’s sci fi space opera.

empress__7-7

TV Review: Powers S2E9 Slain Dragons

Powers Season 2Powers start dropping from the sky and Walker (Sharlto Copley) suspects an old friend is behind it. Pilgrim (Susan Heyward), however, pursues “Ghost” believing he’s responsible. Calista (Olesya Rulin) confronts SuperShock (Michael Madsen) but the encounter causes her to reconsider being a Power.

Powers confirms what was pretty clear for a while, who’s killing the various Powers out there. It’s not too surprising and it’s a storyline we’ve seen played out numerous times in comics. What is that? I’m not going to spoil it in a review, we’ll save that until next episode’s review most likely.

But, this continues the pattern this season of storylines that are predictable (for example Kutter’s fate last episode) or utterly make no sense at all (Calista’s father deciding to rob a bank). It’s been a drifting season from one setup to the next without any of the scenes really enhancing the narrative at all.

We get some action sequences and learn a lot more about Diamond’s history, but overall it feels hollow like the writers weren’t quite sure to get to the confrontation that’s coming. They had ideas but failed to connect the dots into a cohesive story that gelled. Too many side tracks and easily to spot fake outs distracted from a season that could have been greatly simplified by focus just on origins and the present.

Once again Olesya Rulin’s acting distracts as she attempts to act both scared and broken in a segment that spotlights her. Unfortunately, she can’t act making the entire scene comedic in a sad sort of way. It’s distracting and completely takes me out of the episode. What’s supposed to be serious just fails miserably and becomes comedic and laughable.

Predictable. Bad acting. It’s all here!

The series is building towards a big showdown. Will it be unpredictable? Bets are no.

The series has such potential, but this episode is a perfect example of where the potential gets sidetracked and distractions detracts from the whole. The seasons has been full of ups and downs, and there’s just been too many downs.

Overall Score: 6.0

TV Review: Powers S2E8 Chasing Ghosts

Powers Season 2Walker (Sharlto Copley) learns that something isn’t quite right with SuperShock (Michael Madsen), while Pilgrim (Susan Heyward) and Kutter (Justice Leak) investigate an elusive “Ghost.” Calista’s (Olesya Rulin) estranged father unexpectedly comes to town.

Powers is a mix of good and bad, mostly falling on the bad end of things with this episode that does its best job at making it look like Michael Madsen’s SuperShock is crazy and also dealing with Calista’s father.

The middling part of the episode is Madsen who can act and does a decent job with what he’s given. That’s pretty limited to him mumbling to himself and wandering around as Walker slowly realizes not everything is right. It feels more like a possibly homeless person than anything really menacing and definitely does not give enough for Madsen to really do on the acting end of things.

Then there’s the return of Calista’s father who decides to commit a crime. Why? Mostly to get Calista to do something stupid and put her in danger. The plotline makes so little sense and the decisions made to deal with Calista’s father makes you question the entire competence of the police force. With so many other solutions that can easily be had and result in a positive outcome, you can only wonder why the show even thinks this was a good plot point, let alone good writing. It isn’t helped at all by acting that’s some of the worst of the season.

And the final negative of the episode is the ending with Pilgrim and Kutter which is so predictable it might as well had a billboard spelling things out. The writing is completely by the numbers for these two, and things have been telegraphed as to what would happen for quite some time now. These two and their relationship show off the complete lack of creativity along with a lack of coherence when it comes to the plot of the season.

We had three episodes that were actual quality and this one slides right back into old habits and lazy writing. I guess good things can’t last for long as this episode attests. Absolutely dreadful.

Overall Score: 6.05

TV Review: Powers S2E7 Origins

Powers Season 2The origins of SuperShock’s (Michael Madsen) complicated and mysterious relationship with Retro Girl are revealed, as Calista (Olesya Rulin), Sgt. Martinez (Raul Casso) and Zora (Logan Browning) team up to fill the Powers void left in her absence. The disgraced Senator Brown’s (Enrico Colantoni) body is discovered, catapulting newly reinstated detectives, Walker (Sharlto Copley) and Pilgrim (Susan Heyward) into the investigation.

Powers is getting good? That’s three episodes in a row that are pretty solid and quality television. It’s no longer hate watching for me, I’m actually enjoying it! Part of that is the series’ more focused episodes moving away from fights and special fx and instead dialing back to what it is, a cop show that just so happens to have superpowers.

The episode jumps between the present where the body of Senator Brown is discovered and the past showing the origin of SuperShock. There’s also some bits about the formation of a new super team.

The flashbacks are interesting in that they fill some gaps into the history of the Powers and especially how this world differs from ours. Up to this point we assumed everything is the same other than the existence of Powers, but this episode shows that there’s some history that’s a bit different. It’s a solid reveal and gives us an origin for a character in a series that has stayed away from origin stories.

The focus on the killer of the Senator is decent, but rather predictable as a suspect is named and we all know they’re not actually the killer. It just feels like something we all see a mile away.

That leaves us with the formation of the new team. This is the weakest part of the episode primarily due to the acting. Olesya Rulin as Calista stands out for her line readings that always feel very fake and rarely connect. Some time she’s good, most of the time that’s not the case. Luckily we don’t get a lot, but that emphasizes what we do get. It stands out.

The episode is actually a good one for a show that has been very uneven and is speeding along with a season that has so many threads going all over the place. If it comes together the season may redeem itself, but we have some time to go for that.

Overall Score: 7.05

TV Review: Powers S2EE6 Requiem

Powers Season 2As Calista (Olesya Rulin) is about to be crowned the newest shining star of the Powers universe by Conrad Moody III (Wil Wheaton), CEO of the most powerful Powers merchandising company on the planet, a valuable member of the community is murdered. With Walker (Sharlto Copley) and Pilgrim (Susan Heyward) suspended, they are powerless to stop the city from unraveling around them.

Powers has given us two good episodes in a row. By focusing on the crime at hand, the murder of the original Retro Girl, the episode keeps things simple in many ways and makes the cops feel like actual police. They use actual deduction and go over evidence, instead of running around like chickens with their heads cut off. It feels like actual intelligence is being used by the main characters.

Who the killer of the various Powers actually is isn’t that hard to figure out. The series has telegraphed that for quite some time. The reasoning behind it all feels rather idiotic though. I won’t ruin it, but it has to go up there as one of the worst plans by a villain ever. This one makes Cobra Commander look like a genius.

The episode is absolutely an improvement from what’s come before though. Even with the idiotic plan at the center of the season. Generally the acting is good, or at least better than a lot of what we’ve seen in the first season as well as this season’s current episodes.

There’s some good here. There’s a death that does feel like it comes out of nowhere, but it’s a character who was definitely a drag on the series. There’s also an ending that’s a bit surprising (and hopefully it’s not undone next episode). With that and the acting, this is one of the stronger episodes of the season and of the series as a whole.

The premise? Really silly.

The acting? Better than normal.

The special fx? Used at a minimum, so a big improvement.

Some twists? Yup, there’s some good things in there that I didn’t expect.

Overall? Two good episodes in a row and hopefully the series continues along this path.

Overall Score: 7.05

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