The Incal Classic Collection (1981-89/2012)
Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius
Hardcover, 308 pages, Humanoids
Retail price $44.95
You won’t get very far into The Incal before you realize the impact of this French comic from the 1980s. You’ll notice its influence in comics and well beyond (especially in the film The Fifth Element). Though mostly, the story, and especially the art, will leave you with an open-mouthed “Wow....”
The story is grand space opera, beginning with a B-grade private detective named John Difool falling from a enormous skyscraper with multitudes looking on. But this isn’t a suicide attempt; Difool was pushed. But by whom? And for what?
You might just stop right there, saying, “This sounds stupid. I wouldn’t shell out $45 dollars for this; I wouldn’t even shell out $5!” Okay, you may have a point. But indulge me and read a bit further....
It’s not much of a spoiler to tell you that Difool is rescued (but I won’t tell you by whom) and that he has come to possess a strange object called the Incal, an object that everyone in the universe is looking for. While on the run from just about everybody, Difool discovers a “concrete seagull Deepo, who is given the ability to talk by the Incal, the Metabaron, a dynamic swashbuckling mercenary, Animah and Tanatah, two beautiful sisters who represent light and dark, and Kill Wolfhead, an anthropomorphic wolf who works for Tanatah. Their adventure takes them from the highlight techno city planets, to an undersea planet, to a forest of crystals to subspace.” (Ron Richards, iFanboy)
Yes, the story is crazy, absolute madness. But you’re reading The Incal primarily for the flat-out stunning artwork of Moebius (who, sadly, passed away last year). That doesn’t mean there’s not good stuff in the story. Difool gives us a hero (or more properly, an anti-hero) who’s selfish and arrogant, another fallen creature in a fallen world who can’t seem to stop being true to his fallen nature. But the quest for redemption is strong in The Incal, even if the worldview in it is sometimes dark.
The Incal is not for kids. Although the violence isn’t all that graphic, the book includes some nudity and sexuality. Again, the selling point is Moebius and his art, which is both dynamic and detailed, especially when displaying the emotions of his human (and non-human) characters. Moebius has a scope that’s vast, yet believable in the context of a space opera. Plus the colors are absolutely gorgeous.
My only quibble with The Incal is that the text is very small and sometimes it’s not clear where the word balloons (word boxes, in this case) should be attributed. (This hardcover edition has no dustjacket. It includes a bookmark ribbon.)
Although Amazon is sold out of this graphic novel, Humanoids will be publishing a third printing next month. If you enjoy European comics, or if you’re just looking for something different, you’ll want to pick up The Incal before it goes out of print again.