Icaro 2

September 18, 2010

Moebius / Jiro Taniguchi – ibooks – 2004 – 2 volumes

This was ultimately more of a stylistic exercise than anything, full of good ideas, but not very cohesive. While I’ve never actually read it, it did remind me a lot of Akira, which special powers and scenes of exploding from prisons, government agents tracking Icaro down, et cetera. Actually, yes, according to the wikipedia article, the themes of Akira are social isolation, corruption, and power, and while only one of the characters is really “corrupt,” social isolation and power are pretty key themes here.

Icaro breaks out of his garden, and after a long chase sequence, is trapped in a cage while two scientists debate over the methods of brain surgery they could use to subdue him. Then he breaks out again, and there’s another long chase sequence. And then it ends.

Don’t get me wrong, those chase scenes are pretty epic. Icaro powers his way through walls, ceilings, cages, and henchmen, in emotional bursts of power that get him away from uncaring government agents and hopefully into the arms of his beloved Yukiko. Much is made of the fact that he is a flying human who has never seen the sky or sun, and there are torture elements when one of the scientists proposes to replace half his brain with a government-controlled model after he gets unruly.

But… there’s something missing completely from it. Probably character development. To be fair, Icaro is the type of character that is probably not supposed to have personality… he was raised in a completely sterile institution and not provided with any entertainment outside flying around in a garden and talking to Yukiko. But Yukiko isn’t really developed as a character either, since it’s all about Icaro. So what we’re left with is a rather faceless struggle with not a lot to emotionally invest in.

Lots of interesting ideas, yes, but it’s a shame they don’t work together a little better. Also, there’s a handful of loose ends, like what happens to Icaro when he leaves the compound and can’t get the shot he needs to live anymore? What about this upcoming conflict with the “test tube” people? Or how about that female general, she was a pretty interesting?

But it was pretty cool that Moebius and Jiro Taniguchi worked on a project together.

Icaro 1

August 21, 2010

Moebius / Jiro Taniguchi – IBooks – 2003 – 2 volumes

I had no idea this existed, and I’d heard bad things about it, but there’s no way I could stay away from a pairing between Moebius and Jiro Taniguchi. They’re both so amazing.

And… yeah, unfortunately, this is not. Moebius does the writing and, sadly, does not contribute to the art duties. Normally, it wouldn’t matter to me since I enjoy Jiro Taniguchi’s art plenty enough, but it seems to lack his usual warmth. His character designs are always plain (which usually works in his favor since his stuff tends to be more down-to-earth than this sci-fi story), but his attention to detail comes through in the huge complexes, the cityscapes, and the indoor world, complete with elaborate living quarters, strange costumes, and complex machinery, that Icaro inhabits while under government supervision.

The plot… isn’t so hot. Icaro is born with the power of flight, and thus is kidnapped by the government as an infant and experimented on for years until his usefulness as a weapon develops. It’s suggested that part of their need for Icaro has to do with “test tube” specimens with psychic powers, a failed soldier project that is backfiring on the defense department.

The book opens shockingly enough, with a wordless sequence of a naked pregnant woman flying through the sky, a dream she has while giving birth to Icaro. It then switches to a sexy scene between two female government agents who were clearly interrupted mid-coitus by news of Icaro.

Scenes of Icaro flying are also quite striking, and even inside the building, I loved the way they were drawn and the attention to detail.

The story in the first volume, though, is just… yeah. No surprises. None at all, aside from that opening and those wordless Icaro flying scenes. I doubt that will resolve itself in volume two. I was disappointed, but I kind of knew that going in. I still had to see the collaboration between Moebius and Jiro Taniguchi. It made me want to console myself with Akira, Walking Man, and Arzach.