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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Prophet . Volume 1. Remission. Image Comics 2012

Wonderful science fiction that greatly benefits from a range of writers and artists to deliver a gripping opening to a very ambitious story. The first 3 chapters written by Brandon Graham & Simon Roy, art by Simon Roy, colours by Richard Ballerman and  letters by Ed Brisson set the scene with tremendous energy and a cloudburst of ideas. A long buried capsule breaks to the surface and John Prophet emerges in a hugely different Earth with a mission to complete. The first stage is to meet someone who will provide further details of the mission. Prophet crosses a mysterious planet that is full of alien life and soft echos of a human past. He finally meets his contact and receives his mission, to awaken the Earth Empire. The requires a further journey before it can be accomplished. The remaining three chapters written by Brandon Graham, Simon Roy, Farel Dalrymple and Giannis Milonogiannis. Art by Farel Dalrymple, Giannis Milonogiannis, Brandon Graham, colours by Richard Ballerman, Joseph Bergin III, Brandon Graham. A backup story with words and art by Emma Rios complete the package.
The book does exactly what an introduction should do, it is a really strong hook for what will come next, the set up is deeply intriguing and enough potential story telling doors have been opened to make the next step inherently unpredictable and highly anticipated. One of the very best things about the book is the confidence shown by the creative team in the readers, they feel no need to explain everything, instead they simply take a lot for granted and pursue a single story line in each section. This gives the sections a strong element of internal coherence and gives room for the astonishing context in each case to be taken over by the reader.
Too much detail or explanation would have burdened the slender story and possibly drowned it, creating a functioning context for the action with the cast simply getting on with their lives is gripping. There is just enough information to suggest a huge back story which frames the mission the John Prophet is following and the subsequent ripples from his actions.
A multitude of artists and writers can easily create a lost of conflicting and clashing voices and visions, here the multitude is used to suggest the sheer enormity of the Prophet project, the enormous distances and the staggering range of locations is glowing science fiction. The book is full of causally placed ideas that are simply there " One of McCall's children, trying to follow his father by becoming a planet" with art that captures the idea is just a passing moment in the book. The writing has achieved a delicate balance between mystery and momentum without ever becoming obscure or obvious. The arc of the book closes on a great note with a cunning return to the epic simplicity of the opening, a man on a mission has returned and there will be consequences.
The art is a  joy, it changes with each section and never fails to give the story the lift and heft it needs, it fills in the space that the words cannot reach with astounding ideas and dramatic moments that underline the strangeness of the universe. Science fiction thrives on the detail of the moment as well as the giant vistas of space and time and the art captures it all with vigor and clarity. The artists, colourists and the letterer take the possibilities for disciplined freedom that the story offers and take off, they are firmly anchored in the story and they push it far beyond what it could have been.
Smart science fiction comics are a deep pleasure and this is a really smart science fiction comic.
Other Voices, Other Views:
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15770131-prophet-volume-1
http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-12-11/entertainment/35768098_1_brandon-graham-animation-artists
http://www.geeksofdoom.com/2012/08/22/comic-review-prophet-vol-1-remission

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