Friday, July 24, 2009

"Incognito" #5, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

Penultimate issue! This is the one about Zack Overkill, a former supervillain in a witness protection programme. Now he is on the run from both the authorities and his former colleagues, in the company of Ava Destruction, the psychotic super-powered former girlfriend of Zack's late twin brother. Much of this issue is about Zack feeling all sad about his past and starting to register how he has changed from the bad-ass supermaniacs like Ms Destruction, though we also get the first intimations of where all these supertypes have come from. Anyway, it is all deadly stuff, and while nothing like as thrill powered as #4, it is very much building up to an explosive climax.

If you are the kind of person who only buys collections then the graphic novel of this will be out soon. You might well like it. One thing that collection readers will miss, though, is the essays on pulp fiction stuff that appear at the back of each issue. Yellow Peril subjects have been looming large here, and this issue featuring a short piece on Sax Rohmer's sinister oriental mastermind, Dr. Fu Manchu. I have never read a Fu Manchu story (apart from pastiches of him in the pages of Planetary and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), but I have always found them interesting (for all the obvious caveats about racism and creepy ethnic stereotyping etc.). This piece discusses some antecedents to the Chinese genius, including the somewhat outlandish claim that the first readers of Frankenstein would have taken the Monster to be Mongolian; I am unconvinced. Nevertheless, the piece has made me think more of Fu Manchu. Has anyone reading this ever read any of Sax Rohmer's stories?

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