Incognito is a comic series by Ed Brubaker. A sequel miniseries, Incognito: Bad Influences, was released around late 2010/early 2011, detailing Zack going undercover for the government, going after an agent who's gone rogue.
In a World... where superheroes are based on the pulps rather than The Golden Age of Comic Books, Zack Andersen was born on the wrong side of the law. Eventually turning state's evidence, he sells out his villainous allies and goes into witness protection. However, he's still, well, a super-criminal, so some government scientists give him a medication which he must take to nullify his superpowers. Zack gets a job in an office, and that's the end of it.
Zack is bored out of his law-breaking mind. He turns to drugs to numb the pain, only to discover that they negate the effect of the medication. Zack can't go back to being a criminal, since his old pals will kill him if they find out he's still alive. Similarly, he can't stay a normal person, or he'll go all crazy-like. So he grabs a Domino Mask, puts on a leather jacket, and becomes a super-vigilante.
If you think that's screwed up, well - so are the rest of the heroes.
Meanwhile, his criminal fraternity realizes that someone with his powers is active. And then things get interesting...
This comicbook series provides examples of:
- Bed Trick - Amanda is drunkenly making out with the guy dressed as Santa Claus during the office Christmas party. When that guy passes out in the restroom, Zack puts on the suit and ends up having sex with Amanda who is none the wiser. Disturbingly, it is never mentioned again.
- Being Evil Sucks / Being Good Sucks - Zack gets the worst of both.
- Captain Ersatz - Professor Zeppelin seems to be Doc Savage with the serial numbers filed off.
- Meanwhile, Black Death's original nemesis, Lazarus, wouldn't look out of place among the like of the Spider, the Shadow and the Green Lama
- And the origin of Black Death will have any true geek shouting "Wold Newton!"
- Ensemble Darkhorse - Ava Destruction.
- Evil Twin
- Les Yay: In-universe: Amanda's fascination with costumed folk started when she was taken hostage by Ava Destruction, at which time Ava made a pass at her.
- Mad Scientist - Doctor Lester. Seems fond of saying, "We built you well." In fairness though, he did actually build/grow these people. He's just a jerk about pointing it out.
- Meta Origin - the meteor that gave Black Death his powers created the first generation of supers. Everything else snowballed from there.
- Modesty Bedsheet - Zack and Zoe in Bad Influences.
- Raygun Gothic - seems to be SOS' preferred style.
- And the Black Death's organization.
- Shown Their Work - Each issue so far has included a short-but-sweet essay by Mister Jess Nevins on one pulp character, say people like Doc Savage, Fu Manchu...
- Shout-Out - Zack Overkill's cover job as a file clerk is supposed to be a reference to Harvey Pekar in American Splendor. To paraphrase the writer said in an interview, "If you put a guy from superhero comics into witness protection, logically he'll go to the world of alternative comics, right?"
- And Zack's jerk workmate's name is Phileas Farmer. Not Philip Farmer, but still...
- Two-Fisted Tales: Superheroes and pulp fiction.
- Tyke Bomb - Ava Destruction, thanks to her Power at a Price. She's perpetually 16, but only until she turns 50, whereupon she dies. This may have something to do with her killing-sprees and whatnot. Or, she just be that freaky.
With the following specific to Bad Influences:
- Downer Ending
- Heel–Face Door-Slam
- The book itself takes several plot points form Brubaker and Philips' previous series Sleeper. The rogue agent Simon Slaughter is an amalgamation of Holden Carver and Colonel Kurtz (he's even drawn to resemble Marlon Brando).
- The villain Bad Tripper has a Ditko-esque (specifically Doctor Octopus) design and has the power to induce hallucinations reminiscent of Ditko's horror art.
- Modesty Bedsheet - Zack and Zoe.
- Nietzsche Wannabe - Slaughter.