Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Review: "Prophet" Issue 21-- Image-ining Prophet for a New Generation

Announced late last year, Image Comics decided to revive their Extreme line of titles and characters. This month marked the eagerly awaited return of Image's first returning character, John Prophet in Prophet, issue 21. The first Extreme line was an early '90's character roundup of muscle men and scantly clad lady warriors initially brought into being by the loathed-or-loved comic personality Rob Liefeld (type his name into Google's search bar you get: rob liefeld, rob liefeld worst, rob liefeld twitter, rob liefeld can't draw). Although this year's Prophet bares the same title and is listed as a continuation of Liefeld's run, the similarities are few and far between.

Prophet #1, Rob Liefeld 1993 (left), Prophet #21, Rob Liefeld 2011 (right)

Fan favorite creator Brandon Graham (creator/artist/writer of Multiple Warheads, Escalator, King City and blogger behind Royal Boiler) is the overseer and writer of this new Prophet project. The artistry talents include a bevy of indie-newcomers, such as Simon Roy, Marian Churchland, Farel Dalrymple, Giannis Milonogiannis, and Richard Ballerman on colors, with the occasional talents of Liefeld and Graham thrown into the mix--phew, what a list!

The first issue (issue 21) was released a couple weeks ago with Graham listed as writer, Roy as artist, and Ballerman on colors. Before the comic was released in comic retailer shops nationwide, Image announced the comic was sold out on the distribution level and a 2nd printing would be on it's way the first week of February. First issues (once again, meaning issue 21) on the day of release were sold at auction on EBay for $15 and up. With all the commotion and buzz I heard I went down to my comic ship to pick up an issue and find out if this comic is worth those thirty dimes in my pocket (make that 32--can't forget Uncle Sam).

The first thing I noticed about this comic is the cover art. In an industry run by DC and Marvel, certain expectations are demanded by comic covers: action packed scenes, brightly colored costumes, and pencil work that makes most art school students weep. Gladly I am the kind of customer that cherishes the bold and diverse comic market that looks to edge away from the overdone tripe DC and Marvel call cover art. Marian Churchland (wife of Brandon Graham) created a raw yet gorgeous cover for this new series. Her rugged art and use of bland yet natural colors is exactly the kind of stylistic makings this new series needs to stand above the rest.

Upon further inspection, the rest of the comic is subtly beautiful as well. Simon Roy's art is difficult to describe. Think as simple as your generic teen's manga with a splash of visceral detail like Guy Davis' work in BPRD. It is so youthful and childish yet filled with age, detail, and rich in history. The best part of the comic is surely Roy's depictions of alien life forms. Already the first issue and we are given a strong arsenal of alien life. Remember the first time you watched the original Star Wars and you entered into the musty dark of the Mos Eisley Cantina? The camera gives not one, not two, but several different shots of extra terrestrials before returning to our young hero Luke Skywalker. Roy uses this first return to Prophet as a jumping off point to unleash some of the coolest and fantastical looking science-fiction creatures your virgin-trekkie eyes have ever seen. Rest assured this is only the tip of the stripper's ta'tas and writer Graham has many more punches to pull, knifes to stick, and guns to fire before this series comes to an end.

Speaking of writing, Brandon Graham is certainly at the top of his game in this first issue. I've read a few of his comics previously before the introduction of Prophet, like King City and his short "Voice" in DHP #7 (another tremendous MUST read) but my favorite to date is this issue, rest assured. The comic is pure science-fiction gold for fans of comic books. One read is all it takes to know just how much Graham's creative juices are flowing. The story starts out in a familiar earth-like terrain. As a resident Northern Californian, I'm reminded instantly of the wild nature of my golden state with depictions of rocky clay terrain and pine tree barrens. Yet directly from the beginning we're shown creatures hidden back in the recesses of our imagination. Creatures that look similar to sheep, wolves, squirrels, fish, and ants but are nothing alike. Graham tells the story of John Prophet in an extremely bleak and survivalist 3rd person tone, almost like Marv in Frank Miller's "The Hard Goodbye."

Very rarely do I come across a comic book that uses 3rd person in writing and chooses instead to let the artwork tell the story. I am a huge fan of writers (one reason I love Alan Moore) that choose not to rely on their artist counter parts on all the work in story-telling.  This is a great example to show young comic book writers that not every comic needs to be written in the same style or tone.

I can praise this comic over and over again, (I'm certain I will in the upcoming months) but the only readers of this review who truly know the value and appeal to this comic are the ones who lucked out and snagged a copy at their local shop. Image Comics says the second printing of this issue will be out February 8th. One week before the second issue launches. Now raise your glass as I toast the new year to the beginning of a wonderful "new" comic series. Cheers!

No comments:

Post a Comment