Incognito by Ed Brubaker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What if a powerful supervillain ended up in witness protection, working a regular office job like the average Joe?
That is the scenario that Ed Brubaker presents his readers in the series "Incognito."
Zack Overkill was 'a very villainous fellow,' it was all he knew. And then his world changed. His brother was killed and he woke up in a secret government hospital and he was given drugs to deactivate his supernatural abilities and he was under the oversight of SOS, who had once been his greatest adversaries.
Zack hates his new life. He feels empty and useless, until he begins going out at night as a masked avenger, saving people, not out of altruism, but because it staves off his sense of boredom. But his past is catching up with him.
This is noir meets comic book superheroes and villains, and it's very well done. The tone is unapologetically 'adult', with plenty of foul language, violence, and some sexual content. However, there is something quite fascinating about this book. Maybe it's the whole concept. Or maybe it's the fact that Zack's situation is compelling. Readers can feel his pain, especially if your workday has ever felt like the movie "Office Space." And imagine going from being a supervillain to a working stiff who has the strength of the average sedentary young male. Brubaker allows the readers to walk in the shoes of a supervillain and watch his view of the world change. Zack comes to realize that why kill, steal and rampage for no reason, when once's powers can be strategically employed for something of more value? Can there be a better worldview than nihilism? Can people you once viewed as your enemies become your allies for a greater purpose?
There are some disturbing scenes in this book, but then we are dealing with plenty of amoral villains and psychopaths, and even some of the office joes and janes are not exactly admirable in their choices. I didn't care for that, but I did like that Zack's view on things is evolving, and he realizes he doesn't have to be enslaved to his past identity or even who others see him as.
I'll have to keep following this series.
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