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4 October 2014

Prophet

I've been desperate to do this post for some time. I can almost guarantee that it will be a bit of a shambles.

Welcome to the latest installment in my quest to uncover comic excellence. Today I discuss the intergalactic phenomenon that is John Prophet.


I'll come clean and reveal that I didn't have a scooby doo what Prophet was about when I bought it. Yep, I'd figured out that it was some sort of sci-fi series, but beyond that... nothing. I'd spotted it on ebay; Someone was selling volumes 1, 2 and 3 as a bundle. I am so glad that I bought them! I'm not going to review any one of the books for you right now, but instead give you a feel for the overall series.

I've read Remission, Brothers and Empire and also flicked through a free online copy of Strikefile #1. I know that the strikefile is meant to act as a bit of an introduction, but my advice would be to skip it and dive right in.

All these comics have been published by Image Comics.


Whilst doing these reviews I've found myself drawing parallels between various comics, spotting links and connections between different people's works. Reading Prophet, I kept being reminded of the general mood of Moebius' Arzach. I only have one Arzach comic (a 1984 French collection published by Les Humano├»des Associ├ęs) and I love it. If you love Arzach then I think you will love Prophet too.


Prophet is an epic tale that tracks the fortunes of John Prophet... all 6 million of him! John is a clone, a  marvel of biological engineering. There are different John Prophets, Not only that, there are different varieties of John Prophet... versions of John that have been engineered in different ways to have different strengths and weaknesses. If you think this all sounds confusing then you're in for a real treat when you try to unravel why John Prophet exists and what he's up to. Ha ha. Trust me when I say that it is all worth it!

Note above that Farel's Prophet has a tail.


There are so many things I could call out that I'm struggling to know where to start.

Perhaps we begin with a little bit of Prophet history? Just like the story itself, the history of Prophet is complicated and convoluted. Originally created by Rob Liefeld in 1992 for Marvel, Prophet was effectively shelved until Image Comics commissioned what they've called a "revival" version which started hitting the shelves in 2012. This revival version is the one I've been reading. I haven't read the original comics by Rob Liefeld and I've heard no mention of him being involved at all in the production of the revival comics other than being a part of the initial brainstorming.

Here's an interesting quote from an interview with Rob Liefeld published by newsarama:

"We had discussed a far-flung apocalyptic styled Prophet that reflected sci-fi staples like Planet of the Apes, Omega Man and Kamandi, that was the vision we were shooting for all along. Again, let me say that the Prophet creative team has exceeded all expectations. I'd read this book from any publisher under any title, it's so good. I am a life long Moebius geek, the European approach is perfect, the art is beautiful and the storytelling is fantastic. Had we pursued a Stephen Platt knock off it would have ended up disappointing everyone. This was the right direction." ~ Rob Liefeld 2011

So there you go... there was a concerted hat-tip to Moebius right from the off.


The creative team that Liefeld is referring to are a powerhouse of talented writers, artists. letterers, editors and colourists lead by Brandon Graham. I was very interested to see that the team operate by breaking off into sub teams to produce the various chapters. How could that work? Contributors include: Simon Ray, Farel Dalrympie, Giannis Milonogiannis, Mariam Churchland, Richard Ballerman, Joseph Bergin III, Jason Wordie, Ed Brisson, Emma Rios, and more. The list really does go on and on.

What I've discovered is that the different teams have different styles which are used to augment and accentuate the story. It is almost as if the story itself is evolving in the telling. I love that each hand-off is like a chinese whisper, morphing in the process as we race through the chapters. It adds a depth to the various incarnations of John Prophet that might not have happened had the story been the product of one person.


The artwork has a familiar Moebius feel throughout that helps to connect the various parts but I think that Prophet is a little grittier... a little more visceral. Each artist brings their own touch but on the whole what we're presented with is an intricate picture that is painted with a fastidious attention to detail. It's a real pleasure to flick through. I found myself lingering on the artwork savouring each page turn, not wanting it all to end.


The characters are brilliant. I think I've become obsessed with Hiyonhoiagn the Tree. And there, I've hit on something. Nothing is quite what you might expect in Prophet. Imagine creatures of all shapes and sizes: Humanoid, Insectoid, Reptilian, Animal, Mineral, Rock, Paper, Scissors... you have them all. All have a backstory; All have a soul; All evoke some sort of empathy, no matter how weird and wonderful.

I think that this is the mark of a classic here!


I could go on an on, but I think you've got the message that I love Prophet and all that it stands for. I recommend that everybody go and hunt themselves down a copy. It really is that good!

On the hokey Triple-B, I'm going to munch through 9 human limbs and still feel a little peckish.

BUY, BUY BUY!!!


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