Review: Prophet #21

Before Wednesday, I knew nothing about Prophet. I'd heard some rumblings, I think, from the dark corners of the comics blogosphere, but nothing that really caught my attention, not even when the book moved into the light. No, none of that was all that interesting, and none of it would have made me go out and by the book.

My guy, though, he hooked me up. You see, I have an at-home-guy and an at-school-guy. Both are really good dudes, both run really great shops. But I see my at-school-guy a lot more. What's great about my at-home-guy, who runs my at-home-store, what's great about him is that he sort of knows me, even though I go in to his shop six times a year at the outside, once or twice over the summer and on breaks. In part, he knows me because we have similar taste, but in part he knows me because he's very, very good at what he does, but, anyway, when he asked me if I had ever read King City and I told him that I hadn't, but that I had heard good things, he told me about this Rob Liefeld relaunch stuff that actually looked like stuff he wanted to read, and so I took a copy and...

...well, sure enough, this is stuff I'd like to read, which is amazing considering how generally and utterly miserable I find Rob Liefeld's work. What's so amazing about this John Prophet, though, the first we've heard from the character since Rob Liefeld's last period of general relevancy, is how much gold Brandon Graham and Simon Roy have panned for out of what was apparently a shit river of a Cable clone. This stuff is really good, as if the apparent volume of John Prophet's muscles is inversely proportional to the quality of the book he's in. Obviously, part of what makes it so good is Roy's art, which about as far from Liefeld (that's the last time his name will come up, I promise), as you can get; it's got this fantastic and malleable thin line, with a deliberately sloppy hesitancy that reminds me of Frank Quitely. That line is what makes the book work: it defines a world that appears to be like ours (and in fact is, in a technical sense, ours) but which is actually nothing like the world that we inhabit. Roy's compositions, too, tend towards mid-range and distance shots: John Prophet, in other words, is inhabiting a world, rather than moving in a world that appears to exist only because of him (although, of course, this is precisely what is going on). Of course, what helps the world Roy made be so convincing is how willing he appears to simply stay out of his colorist's way, and the ambiance that Richard Ballermann gives to the book only just stops short of magnetic.

Brandon Graham does an excellent job, too, considering he's had not only to remake someone else's concept, but explain that remaking to both a brand new audience and those people who actually did like Image Comics in the nineties. I expect he failed on the second front: anyone who dug Youngblood is probably not going to like this too much.

Obviously, this is a good thing.

Prophet's joy is in its subtlety, which is sort of a weird thing to say about a comic that features post-coital cannibalism (did I mention that the sex was with a creature that was definitively non-human? And that the scene transitions with the alien smoking her equivalent of a pipe, and then cutting John Prophet open in order to retrieve an organ that belongs to her? An organ helps her reproduce?). At the end, all we're left with is a man (familiar to some, although only vaguely recognizable) on a mission in a strange new world.
And its a big, wide, dangerous, wonderful one.

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