Icaro is drawn by Jiro Taniguchi, a multiple-award-winning manga artist. Euro-comics master Moebius (aka Jean Giraud) wrote the script, which is not entirely surprising, considering Moebius's eclectic projects over the years have included reinterpretations of Silver Surfer comics and the video game Halo.
Comics Masters Taniguchi and Moebius Collaborate
Jiro Taniguchi's art in Icaro is appropriately breathtaking. Taniguchi has a meticulous eye for detail, and a very precise rendering style. Despite their richness, Taniguchi's visuals never seem overcrowded or confusing, which is especially important in black and white artwork.
Moebius plays to these strengths in his script. He leaves Taniguchi plenty of text-free space for his expansive panoramas, while pacing action and dialogue-laden scenes with equal skill. What's more, Moebius handles the tropes of manga – such as the lieutenant-colonel in charge of a secret government project – well enough that it's hard to tell that Icaro wasn't written by a real mangaka.
Icaro Hindered by Manga-Crossover Problems
While Icaro is touted as "one of the first significant original manga collaborations between East and West" on its back cover, there is definitely more "East" than "West" to this manga miniseries.
Pages run back-to-front, and panels from right to left, keeping with manga conventions. Western readers are thus encouraged to read Icaro traditionally, which – for those who are already manga fans – is not too big an imposition.
However, some manga traditions are less impressive. While the availability of an English edition of any manga is a good thing, many translations suffer from stilted, unnatural dialogue and dubious diction. Sadly, Icaro is no different. Characters spout such awkward phrases as "The dope will take effect very soon" and "Beginning from today, you're relieved from the duty of instructing Icaro."
The Demise of iBooks Keeps Icaro Grounded
Adding to Icaro's difficulties reaching an audience has been the collapse of its publisher, iBooks, soon after the graphic novel was published. In 2006, iBooks filed for bankruptcy, and was liquidated.
Komikwerks, co-publisher of Icaro, is still in business, but focuses on child- and teen-friendly comics. With its graphic nudity and Scanners-esque exploding heads, Icaro clashes with Komikwerks' line.
While readers can now only come by a copy of Icaro second-hand, the manga may still be worth seeking out for fans of Moebius or Jiro Taniguchi. Icaro's peculiarities are, on the whole, offset by the virtues of its art and storytelling.