“Before the Watchmen” failed as prequel because “Watchmen” wasn’t about the inhabitants of a world but about the parodic participants in a situation, and extracting the characters from their situation left us with lost parodies of parodies, floundering about without their originating story.
There was no risk of that happening with Alejandro Jodorowsky’s “Before the Incal,” the prequel to (well, obviously) “The Incal.” Conceived by Jodorowsky and Moebius out of the scraps of their failed version of Frank Herbert’s “Dune,” “The Incal” did not get to be so influential because of its particular story. It DID have a story, BTW, just not one easily discernible to those of us who, unlike Jodorowsky and Moebius, have yet to transcend into a dimension of neuro-enlightened mystic crystal revelations. Or whatever.
What “The Incal” offered was a mood, and a mythological sci-fi landscape to accompany that mood. The prequels (and the sequels, and the whole peripheral midrash involving the Technopriests and the Metabarons) all make perfect sense, because this is definitely a world worth exploring in quite a few directions.
“Before the Incal” takes us from the heights where the halo-wearing Aristos play, down the City Shaft, to the Red Ring where the Homeo-Whores ply their trade, and to darker places still, like the House of Dorian Grae, where the rich go to die when their bodies become too genetically deformed by years of decadence.
The albums composing “Before the Incal” came out between 1988 and 1995, and they neatly trace the early years in the life of John DiFool; the deaths of his parents; his friendships with the “concrete gull” Deepo (catchphrase: “Croot!”) and with the Bible-quoting cybocop Kobol-5; John’s loss of innocence; his mixed-up love affair with capricious aristo Luz de Garra; his investigation of a bizarre infanticide plot; and his engendering of the Messianic Solune.
Serbian artist Zoran Janjetov emulates Moebius competently – that’s why Jodorowsky chose him for the task – even though he’s a little stiffer than his elder. Not as essential or visionary as the main “Incal” volumes, “Before the Incal” does benefit from one of the more straightforward narratives in all of the meta-cycle. (Did the peyote run out chez Jodorowsky during its writing?) This is still full of all the fun, bizarre imagery you can expect from a cyber-punk/ neo-noir/ space-opera/ mystical bildungsroman.
RATING : CROOT! I mean, COOL!