I recently found myself at the neighbourhood Heroes World looking at graphic novels with a friend. Past all the Walking Dead comics was Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillip’s Incognito.
Incognito is different from what I know of comics (disclaimer: I know nothing about comics) — it’s more than just action. It’s a dark and hilarious story. The characters are bitterly sarcastic. It’s everything you want after a long day at work.
Zack Overkill was once a super villain but he’s had his villainous tendencies drugged out of him by the FBI and has been placed under the Witness Protection program. Part of his disguise is that he has to hold a boring office job. The boredom drives Overkill to start using drugs but then his villainous super strength starts coming back… and he starts helping people like Spiderman for shits and giggles.
The story gets crazier from there. I’ve already bought the next one in the series, Incognito Volume 2: Bad Influences.
I can just imagine Seth Grahame-Smith as a child, sitting in bible school, day-dreaming of the wise men battling their way to Egypt. Unholy Night describes the Wise Men’s journey in comic book vernacular — that is, in a series of fight scenes worthy of big speech bubbles with the words, SPLAT, BOOM and POW written in them.
I never learned much about religion (my secular public school had a don’t ask, don’t tell policy about religion) but I imagine Grahame-Smith’s retelling of a classic bible story might be a little blasphemous. The Wise Men are a bunch of criminals led by Balthazar, also known as the Antioch Ghost, a legendary thief hated by King Herod.
When Balthazar escapes from Herod with two other criminals: Melchyor and Gaspar. They escape to Bethlehem with pockets full of stolen frankincense and well, we all know who’s in Bethlehem. In trying to get baby Jesus to Egypt, Balthazar encounters all sorts of supernatural events. I don’t want to give away too many details but Grahame-Smith, who also wrote Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, does an awesome job at putting his own (bloody, gorey) twist on supernatural bible phenomenons (I think these are called miracles).
Unholy Night was a fun and fast read — and you don’t need to know anything about Christianity to appreciate it. I’ve always said that fight scenes and car chases are great for movies and bad in books. But Unholy Night proved me wrong. Grahame-Smith’s detailed description of violence is commendable. After all, the Bible was one violent book.