Monday, March 15, 2010

Promethea Volume 5

Written by Alan Moore
Art by J.H. Williams III and Mick Gray

It's hard to be critical of a comic this beautiful, but Alan Moore's intent in Promethea was not so much to tell a gripping story as to expound on his own knowledge and beliefs in the tarot, and other arcane things.

This volume starts quite conventionally for this series, with Promethea in hiding in Millennium, the home town of Tom Strong and his compatriots, who get asked by the FBI to help find her. Because she is discovered (in her Sophie form), she now has to end the world (for reasons that are not clear, nor memorable from the last volume).

From there, the book moves into the kind of random, although very scholarly mumbo-jumbo of the last two volumes, and the world ends, and then somehow continues, just in a different, nicer form. After that is the epilogue to the series, more about which in a moment.

As always with Promethea, the draw is Williams's art. As with the other volumes, he employs a number of different techniques and styles throughout the book, relying heavily on photo-referenced work for the scenes where the world is ending, and all fictional realities become real. The pièce de résistance of the book is the final issue of the series, which was originally printed as a huge fold-out double-sided poster, showing two images of Promethea in the background, while the character narrates another essay on magic. It's visually quite stunning when read as individual pages, and a small fold-out page is included in the back of the book to give you a scaled-down representation of the original work.

In the final analysis, I think reading Promethea was too much like going to wizard school to be totally enjoyable, but the series did have a number of very enjoyable moments (I would buy an issue of the Weeping Gorilla if I could) and was visually so inventive as to be worthy of an honored space on any shelf.

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