The formula for a successful graphic novel is not difficult: Combine interesting artwork, snappy dialogue and a plot that moves the reader from panel to panel. Originally started 20 years ago by writer Alex Jodorowsky and artist Moebius Moebius, “Incal: The Epic Conspiracy” fails in all three categories. The premise is ripe for an “Amazing Stories” throwback or a refreshing take on the tale of a futuristic detective, but the author and illustrator both miss a golden opportunity.
“Incal” follows the story of an archetypical gumshoe, John Difool. The big innovation, however, is that the story is set in the future. A magical artifact with unexpected side effects falls into Difool’s lap, and the story revolves around his attempts to guard it and discover its meaning. “Incal” tries to capitalize on gritty and violent undertones, but winds up in an undeniably PG environment. The protagonist is as two-dimensional as he appears on the page. After the initial excitement of his introduction, he is relegated to the role of dumb human. While the writers could have taken this character in daring directions, they stick with conventional notions.
The premise of the story is hardly original when one examines the previous work of Moebius, a highly acclaimed artist responsible for much of the concept development behind the films “Blade Runner,” “The Fifth Element” and “Aliens.” This book feels like an amalgamation of the three, appropriating the most distinct elements from their universes, and combining them into one vaguely coherent artistic exploit.
Even with the mediocrity of the overall product, the creators have included some unique characters. Difool’s parrot, Deepo, is a funny sidekick, and the alien Berg assault troops are shockingly cool. They form the best part of a decidedly blas