I was extremely impressed with the first issue of the relaunched Prophet series from Image Comics, and this second issue has convinced me that this is a comic too awesome to miss. Prophet is a character that was created by Rob Liefield as a part of his Extreme Studios line of comics, and I knew nothing about John Prophet before I picked up the first issue. From what I understand, writer Brandon Graham and Simon Roy have taken Liefield’s concept for Prophet and completely rebuilt it. Their reinvention of the character is a bit like Roland from The Dark Tower, except that Stephen King wrote Roland into a world optimized for the picture free medium of the novel; Graham and Roy’s Prophet journeys through a post-apocalyptic desert of a world that capitalizes on the huge, sprawling sci-fi imagery in a way that only comics can do just right.
This issue begins with Prophet continuing his journey to reach “the towers of Thauilu Vah” so that he can climb them and restart the “G.O.D. Satellite”, which is supposed to “awaken the Earth empire”. The premise of this series, that Prophet is on a quest that is almost explicitly a spiritual journey, is strikingly similar to the concept behind Stephen King’s The Dark Tower . In The Dark Tower, Roland Deschain must reach the titular Dark Tower to repair the fabled tower that binds all universes together. The similarity between Prophet and The Dark Tower does not end there. Both series also feature their protagonist journeying through a vast desert landscape that is apparently in the far future of a world ravaged by an unspecified apocalypse, and this environment is littered with the sci-fi leavings of a high tech future gone sour.
The comparison between Prophet and The Dark Tower is not meant as a criticism. My suggestion is not that Graham and Roy are cribbing from King’s playbook; rather, my point is that Prophet has a similar narrative to The Dark Tower, but its narrative is structured to take full advantage of the visual nature of comics. In this issue, Prophet is continuing his journey to restart G.O.D. by making his way through a desert filled with defunct giant robots. Where Roland Deschain was limited to the written word, Graham and Roy drop Prophet into an awesome visual set piece that depicts an immense horizon of rotting robot corpses which Graham describes as a “grave yard of fallen giants”.
Prophet joins a strange caravan society to make his way through this harsh landscape. The caravan is another set piece that takes advantage of the comics medium to glorious effect. Roy gives us a double page spread that shows this nomadic society has built buildings onto the backs of huge creatures that look like many legged mixtures of elephants and spiders. We see this caravan surrounded by a series of force fields to protect against the mutant insects that dominate the environment, and in the foreground we see the decaying wreckage of some awesome robot war that must have taken place here untold years ago.
I really can’t say enough about how awesome Roy’s art is throughout this comic. He has all manner of odd and interesting aliens that inhabit the Earth, presumably because the “Earth Empire” vacated the planet some time ago to move onto greener pastures, and his designs of these creatures are both disgusting and fascinating. There’s a ridiculous amount of detail and care that Roy puts into the spacious landscapes that Prophet journeys through, and this hyper attention to all the little mutant insects and rusting robot parts really immerses you into the world of the comic. The art is wonderfully weird, idiosyncratic, and psychedelic, and it’s a perfect match for the sci-fi oddity of Prophet’s story.
Graham’s writing in this series has a poetic quality to it that matches the surreal landscapes and extraterrestrial societies. Prophet is the only human we’ve seen in the series so far, and he doesn’t talk at all. Rather, Graham fills the comic with a series of captions that describe Prophet’s inner world and the circumstances he’s dealing with in his journey to find G.O.D. These captions have a dreamlike quality, like they are little poems that capture the flavor and essence of this surreal environment. The combination of the silent protagonist and these descriptive captions is a seamless union of Roy’s vivid imagery and Graham’s poetic words, and it produces a feeling that I think only comics can pull off.
I had no idea who John Prophet was before I picked up the first issue of this relaunched series, but Brandon Graham and Simon Roy have completely sold me on this comic by their second issue. This is a comic that embraces the weird with crazy sci-fi imagery that makes the reader feel like they’ve stepped into another world. Both Roy’s art and Graham’s writing have reimagined this character into something that is undeniably awesome, and I can’t recommend this relaunch of Prophet enough.