Wake up. Vomit. Immediately have to fight for your life. Wander through the wilderness. Steal some monkey meat to eat. Get romantic with a giant alien bug. And then get a job shoveling poo.
Well, then you’re probably having a better week than John Prophet. I am too. Hi, I’m Hal, welcoming you back to Comical Musings for my follow-up post on Image’s Prophet series.
Based on my previous post, it might come as no surprise that John Prophet would have a bad time, as would anyone who happened to read his name-sake comics. And you might be wondering why I would continue reading, not to mention why I thought it merits a second blog article.
My friends this isn’t Liefeld’s Prophet. Earlier this year, in a stroke of utter genius, Image Comics re-introduced the Prophet series by letting writer Brandon Graham and artists like Simon Roy and Farel Dalrymple take it in a COMPLETELY different direction. Apparently the title’s history wasn’t a problem, because the previous issues were utterly forgettable, and Prophet #21, which kicked-off the relauch, sold out at a distribution level before the issue hit stores.
This is the same John Prophet character from previous issues (sort-of), but now our chronologically challenged protagonist is battling his way through alien landscapes in the distant future. I like good science fiction, and friends this is good sci-fi. I’m currently up to date with #28, and in my opinion the relaunched titles are on par with Herbert or Heinlein. The art isn’t photo-realistic, but it is incredibly detailed, and it really helps the reader fathom the alien worlds that serve as a backdrop for Prophet’s travails. Basically, good old John Prophet has awoken to either re-establish or re-topple the Earth empire.
The biggest problem with the relaunched series is that at times it can be hard for the reader to tell what is going on. I would have issued a spoiler warning, but I’m not sure what the crucial plot points are (and I learned my lesson about assuming spoilers.) Species, characters, and creatures are suddenly introduced and just as quickly dispatched by Prophet’s machete. Graham does a good job of keeping the story moving, although sometimes it comes at the expense of explanation. Furthermore, the issues don’t follow a single story thread. So jumping into the series can be as confusing as waking up from cryosleep. But it’s easy to follow the immediate action, and as you go you begin to get a sense of where the overarching story is going. In my opinion, Graham’s writing is excellent; he just doesn’t cut the readers any slack as they come up to speed on this complex universe. This has the advantage that you can jump in at any point and you won’ t have missed any crucial back story.
In a way, I like that Prophet isn’t always easy to follow. It adds to the other-worldliness of the story, and I appreciate the challenge of following along. At the same time, the relaunched series has a few other qualities that really enjoy. In addition to science fiction, I am a fan of surrealism, and Prophet’s steady barrage of alien bizarreness scratches that itch for me. I also like when publishing companies dust off forgotten characters from their archives and throw them into new stories. Obviously this series resurrects John Prophet and puts him to much better use. But these stories are still taking place in the Leifeld universe, so some characters from series like Youngblood might also occasionally show up. Yippie-kay-yay, Mister Falcon!
One other drawback to the new Prophet is that it is very violent. It is definitely not suitable for younger readers, but more mature fans of science fiction will probably greatly enjoy this series. So throw on your dolmantle and pick up the latest issue at your local comic store.
~ Hal ~