Friday, January 20, 2012

Prophet #21

Written by Brandon Graham
Art by Simon Roy

I think I may have just found my new favourite monthly comic.  By now, everyone knows the story - Rob Liefeld is relaunching his old Extreme line of comics, known for god-awful art and stories, filled with shoulder pads, pockets, giant guns, anatomically impossible women, and an utter lack of feet.  A lot of these comics were popular for a little while in the 90s, before the lack of good story and the incredible inability to publish even semi-regularly took their toll, and the books all stopped coming out.  I have some vague memories of Prophet - I think he was some kind of Cable rip-off (and yes, I know Liefeld created Cable), but really, it's not like the comics probably made sense.

Anyway, the relaunch.  This series is being written by Brandon Graham, who is a brilliant artist in his own right.  Graham is best known for King City, an amazing comic that I can not recommend enough.  He is joined on Prophet by fellow Vancouver-ite Simon Roy, who I first became aware of a couple of years back at TCAF when I bought his Jan's Atomic Heart, a short little graphic novel.  At the time, I remarked that he would be a major talent one day, and I think he may be well on the road with this comic.  (By the way - while everyone is suddenly looking to get copies of Jan's Atomic Heart, I imagine that it is easier to sample Roy's second work - stories in Murder Book, an excellent crime anthology series, which can be purchased here - it's very good).

This series is set in a far-off future, where the entire Earth's ecosystems have changed radically.  John Prophet suddenly appears in a drill-bit shaped hibernation pod, having been buried a long time.  He has a mission to complete, which he receives updates about through his dreams.  He travels to a jell city (more on this soon) to meet his contact and receive information about his mission.  What this mission is, or what has happened to the planet, or why Prophet was willing to mate with his slug-like contact, are all being left as mysteries for now.

Graham is one of those creators who breathe out good ideas the way we do carbon dioxide.  Every page of this comic has something new and strange on it, from the variety of wild animals that Prophet encounters (he's only awake for a few minutes before a Tulnaka attacks him) to the strange new inhabitants of the world.  We see a little of an Oonaka meat farm.  These are vaguely simian creatures being raised by some of the creatures that live in the jell city - basically a rotting living jellyfish spaceship that is inhabited by a caste society of creatures that I can't exactly describe - they're insect-ish.  Graham keeps his usual wordplay at a minimum, but I was amused by the drones that shoot live ammunition - living creatures that sink claws into their target.

I found every page of this comic a complete treat.  Roy's art reminds me Moebius, Tony Moore, Paul Pope, and David Lapham (is such a combination is even possible), with a sense that James Stokoe has had an influence on things.  The story is definitely intriguing; I imagine this as being a future Conan comic, but written by William S. Burroughs.  Handing this series to these two is the best thing that Rob Liefeld has ever done in all his years of working in comics.

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