Saturday, October 8, 2011

Incognito by Ed Brubaker

Incognito is another entry in Ed Brubaker's continuing series of superhero/noir mashups. In this case, Zach Overkill is a supervillain(hero?) who has been put into witness protection and drugged to subdue his powers after some sensitive testimony against supervillain The Black Death. What follows is a superhero deconstruction in the same vein as Powers and Watchmen. The book club for Incognito will meet on Thursday October 20th at Koelbel Library at 7:00 p.m.

1. What is the importance of Zach's white shirt/black tie get up?

2. What message about the superhero genre is Brubaker trying to send with Incognito?

3. If superheroes did exist in the real world, would they be treated as they are in Incognito? Essentially drugged to inhibit their powers?

4. As evidenced by the office Santa story, Zach enjoys being in costume. Is there any significance to this story or this revelation?

5. Amanda from the office is sexually aroused by superheroes as a result of being saved by one. Is this a realistic result? What does this imply about superheroes in general?

6. Watchmen and Incognito both feature superheroes with relatively "boring" superpowers, i.e. a mask and the ability to fist fight. Both also deconstruct the superhero genre and ask interesting moral questions. Are these arguably more interesting plot lines attributed to featuring a simpler superhero? Do overly complex origins (cough Green Lantern) blur the possibility of strong storylines?

7. In the afterword, Brubaker talks of his plans of continuing the series. For those who have read the sequel, is this a wise decision? Would Incognito have served better as a one shot?

8. Much like Planetary, Brubaker features Lazarus (Shadow-like) and Professor Zeppelin (Doc Savage-like). These alternate superhero universes often feature doppelgangers like this. Does this add to the fictional world or detract?

9. Would you consider Zach Overkill a villain? Why or why not?

10. The idea of living "off the grid" or retiring from superherodom has been explored in many graphic novels. Is it possible or is the allure of fighting crime impossible to resist?

11. Why is each twin slightly different or more evil?

12. Incognito features a bit of recreational drug use. Why is drug use rare in superhero stories?

13. Incognito has been criticized for its "endless plot reveals and revelations toward the end." Do you agree that this was a detraction from an otherwise good story?