Image Comics’ relaunch of the Prophet series is one of those rare comics that defies easy explanation. While main character John Prophet has seemingly superhuman powers, it’s not a superhero story. While he is on a mission, it’s not strictly a quest story. And, while there are talking aliens and animals, it’s definitely not about cute and cuddly.
No, this is comic books for grown-ups. From the opening image of a phallic ship pounding its way out of the ground, in a bizarre reversal of the act of procreation, to a vast caravan whose excretions are re-fed and re-excreted into valuable building materials, to a vast satellite labeled G.O.D. that could hold the secret to rebooting the human empire, this is a multi-levelled comic book that requires work.
Writer Brandon Graham, with Simon Roy and Farel Dalrymple, simply unfold this epic tale out in front of you, cramming more story in less words than should be allowed by law, with little explanation as to how we got to this point and letting the viewer be a part of the story by figuring it out as opposed to being told it, adding up the sparse details given to understand the greater depth of the story within.
So, be warned. There is no spoon-feeding here. And, you will enjoy the journey far more for it.
Based on Rob Liefeld’s 1990s series of the same title, this Prophet is not so much a reboot as a re-envisioning of the story of a time-travelling soldier, reactivated so far into the future that the human race is just a memory and the earth has been overrun by aliens originally brought to serve man. His goal? To restart the human race.
Collecting the first 6 issues, Prophet Volume 1: Remission is a potent exercise in world-building, a story rich with detail. Panels drip with layers of life and color, each one teasing at an entire evolution that the world underwent while John Prophet slept under the earth. Two-page spreads of the world (in which John may be seen as only the tiniest part of the image) hint at vast ecosystems and civilizations, eons and eons of evolution.
The artwork by Roy (1-3), Dalrymple (4), Graham (5), and Giannis Milonogiannis is fecund with life, in all its furry, clawed, slimy, and viscous forms. Recalling the artwork of Moebius, this title would have been at home in the classic eras of Heavy Metal/Metal Hurlant. If you were a fan of that storytelling, Prophet will be a welcome return. And, if you’re new to it, the collected trade will be a stellar introduction that you will return to over and over again.