Comic book series are frequently rebooted, sent back to issue #1, given a new creative team, a new direction and solicited as ‘a great jumping-on point for new readers’. Prophet was an early Image series from Rob Liefeld, with all that is implied in that – namely shoulder pads, inexplicable pouches, and angry, angry people with tiny feet. It ran for 20 issues and stopped abruptly after Liefeld had a very public falling-out with the other Image founders. Now it has been restarted, written by indie superstar Brandon Graham (best known for his manga King City), and while it pays attention to past continuity, it’s totally unnecassary to have read the previous comics.
A great jumping-on point for new readers.
Prophet, as it is now, tells of a soldier left over from a future war, woken up at an ordained time with a mission to restart the Earth Empire. And that’s really as much information as you’re given to begin with. It’s enough though – it sets up a Conan and Heavy Metal-inspired tale (the comic, not the music). Each issue is virtually standalone, with only hints of the larger story tying things together. It feels more like a sci-fi anthology in places – strange ideas are thrown around with abandon, and at least half of the issues work as standalone stories.
The first half of this volume is illustrated by Simon Roy, who has a bold, neat style with elements of Moebius’ artwork in the biological technology and cities on display, and something that resembles John Buschema’s Conan stories (Prophet is presented as a high-tech barbarian for these early stories). It’s Roy’s art that informs the tone for the rest of the series, and it’s probably the best in this volume. Farel Dalrymple (Omega the Unknown) has a stand-alone tale of Prophet infiltrating a giant man-shaped city. While it’s not bad, it doesn’t stand out next to the other tales. Brandon Graham illustrates as well as writes in a story of two wandering robots. His sparse lines and flat colours are totally unlike anything else in the book, and this chapter is the most successful of the standalones. Finally Giannis Milonogiannis (Old City Blues) has a manga-inspired chapter that sets up a potentially far greater scope for the story right at the end of the volume. Again, this story is strong enough to stand on its own, and the artwork is bold and imaginative.
While it may sound that this is all very vague, disconnected stuff, the clear impression is given throughout that it’s all leading somewhere, that the big ideas will coalesce into a satisfying whole, that there’s enough of a thread to keep everything on track. Whether that’s true, I don’t know. But Prophet punctuates its story with reveals and reversals that constantly upset what you think you’ve already learned. For anyone who enjoys weirdness for weirdness’ sake, that should be more than you need to invest in this ongoing series.