Issue #1, Page 8: Overkill Origins

© 2008 Basement Gang, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips
Issue #1, Page 8: Overkill Origins
(Detail -click image for full view)
Ink and blue-line on board
11" x 17"

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Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips won the 2007 Eisner Award for Best New Series for their work on Criminal, a realistic meditation on crime novel clichés. The following year they brought that formula to the super-powered heroes of the pulp era, and thus was born Incognito…

Ed Brubaker is to detective fiction what Neil Gaiman is to fantasy. His mob-noir treatment of Daredevil won him back to back Eisner Awards. His cold war Captain America revitalized a franchise and greenlit a major motion picture. And as much freedom as he’s given with Marvel’s greatest heroes, his original comics are a no-holds barred rumble. It should come as no surprise that his other creator-owned works have all been optioned for films as well: Sleeper, Criminal and Incognito.

Incognito is set in the present day, but in an alternate America where pulp creeps and crusaders have thrived for over two hundred years. Our hero, Zack Overkill, is a reformed science villain in the witness protection program, required to take a drug that interferes with his super powers. His dissatisfaction with the daily grind leads him to experiment with illegal power-block-inhibitors that revitalize his super strength. Again donning a mask, he becomes a vigilante, alerting The Black Death (the supervillain he testified against) to his nocturnal activities and whereabouts. Placing himself in danger with both cops and crooks, Zack learns of his own origins and how they connect to the origin of the meta species. Each issue also contains a series of articles on the pulp characters that inspired those in Incognito.

Sean Phillips was part of the original British Invasion of writers and artists sought to work on Vertigo titles by DC editor Karen Berger. He worked a bit on Hellblazer with Jamie Delano and The Invisibles with Grant Morrison, before returning to work exclusively on UK titles like 2000 AD and Judge Dredd. When he returned to the American comic industry in 1999, it was to ink Michael Lark’s pencils on a project (Scene of the Crime) that would team them both for the first time with Ed Brubaker. Following a run on WildC.A.T.s with writer Joe Casey, the majority of Phillips’ work would be with either Robert Kirkman (Marvel Zombies) or Ed Brubaker, almost exclusively.

Much like Michael Lark, Sean starts his illustrations in Blue Line on a wacom pad, transfers the digital layout to illustration board, then inks his details over them, so there is no original pencil layout. Phillips prefers a closer art-to-publication ratio than most of his contemporaries, and uses 11” x 14” board rather than the industry standard of 11” x 17”. In the page above, we get Zack’s origin via flashback, showing how he was first captured by police for illegal, super-powered crimes. Origin pages are always among the most desirable, but in crime comics –especially superhero noir comics, the origin page is extra special; here it becomes the single page encapsulation of the entire series. Sean Phillips’ heavy black line is a trademark of this genre, and it’s a style he helped pioneer.


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