November 24th, 2012
That Rob Liefeld, back at Image and having somewhat rehabilitated himself this past decade, would attempt to restart his old nineties titles was expected. That he even would get back to Prophet wasn’t much of a suprise either, but that the new Prophet would become a cult success and a critical hit, that I never suspected. I don’t really remember the original Prophet, just another of Liefeld’s Cable clones, akk hip pouches and big guns, that got his fifteen minutes of fame thanks to Wizard hype with nothing to distinguish it from the dozens of other Liefeldian creations published back then.
The second time around Prophet has nothing of Liefeld in it anymore, with the only thing surviving from the original series being the title and John Prophet’s general appearance, sans hip pouches. Apart from that nothing connects the two series.
I don’t know the people behind the new series: Brandon Graham, the main writer and Simon Roy, Farel Dalrympie, Giannis Milonogiannis, the artists, with Brandon also lending a hand to the art for one chapter. Never heard of them before this, never read anything they’ve done, all I know is one thing. Somebody must’ve read a lot of French seventies science fiction comics.
It’s the art that you notice this first. It’s rare for artists working in American comics to be this influenced by European art rather than Japanese manga, especially in a science fiction series like this, but the names that come up to compare with are people like Enki Bilal, Philippe Druillet, Paul Gillon, J. C. Mezieres, Jean Claude Forest, and of course Moebius.The designs of the aliens, the vehicles, the flora and fauna of the far future Earth, the slightly trippy setting and matter of fact protagonist, it could’ve been a serial in mid-seventies Métal Hurlant.
The story too is very Métal Hurlant like: Prophet awakes in an underground pod, on a far future Earth unfamiliar to him, a voice in his head urging him to travel East. The country he travels through is devoid of familiar live, taken over by various aliens, bearing the scars of long ago wars. Over the course of the first three chapters it turns out Prophet’s task is to restore the Earth Empire by activating the G.O.D. satellite. His task complete, we learn that he is but one of a legion of clone brothers, as John Prophets all over the galaxy awaken and the action shifts elsewhere.
In all, I’ve no idea how these people got their seventies French sci-fi romp wedged into a nineties Image superhero title, or why, but I’m glad they did. This is a brilliant, original series like nothing else being published and while I keep harping on about how much it reminds me of something like Exterminator 17 e.g., the thing is that this is not an exercise in nostalgia, but something modern, something new, something that hasn’t really been done before. This is actually a series you may want to read as it comes out, rather than wait for the trades.