Brandon Graham, Simon Roy, Farel Dalrymple, Giannis Milonogiannis, Marian Churchland, Emma Rios
Earth, an unspecified but very distant point in the future; a world we wouldn’t recognise anymore. Strange new creatures have evolved to stalk the ruined world; humans are gone, the only intelligent life now is in the form of increasingly bizarre aliens, the nearest thing to humans a sort of human-like ape (our descendants de-evolved, perhaps?), farmed by aliens. And then some human life returns to this grim future world: John Prophet awakes.
A drill-tipped capsule emerges from beneath the soil, bearing the body of Prophet in suspended animation. Resuscitated, he gathers his few possessions and equips himself to single-mindedly carry out his mission: to climb a vast tower and re-awaken the slumbering Earth Empire and bring it back to life.
Right from the get-go Brandon Graham throws us off balance: Prophet is barely introduced to us and out of his sus-an long sleep before he is attacked by one of the bizarre new predators that stalk this future Earth. In just a few pages we see how vastly different the world has become and how driven Prophet is in his mission, traversing the bizarre sights of this Earth that is no longer home to humans to meet his contact, an alien lifeform inside the Jell City (a living alien ship now landed permanently on Earth as home to an alien colony) to allow him to progress on his mission.
Prophet is, without a doubt, one of the oddest and most unusual slices of science fiction comics I’ve read since the remarkable, Kirby-esque Godland. The story summarised above is only one element of this first collection and the only part that is fairly linear in the telling. After the conclusion of this part we learn there are many more John Prophets out there, all enhanced clones, all with the same mission, to restore the Earth Empire, and we get an increasingly bizarre series of scenarios that we as readers are dropped into pretty much like the re-awakened Prophet clones. It can be confusing but also hooks you, makes you want to know more of what is going on and why, what the backstory is, how did things become like this, what else is going on around these various clones as they try to restore a vanished way of life.
In addition to my comics reading I also tend to get through several science fiction and fantasy novels each month, and I have to say Prophet is one of the most unique and unusual – not to mention interesting – SF works I have come across in comics or prose recently. It can be confusing and yet tantalising, it paints a truly alien future and draws partly on some of that hugely stylish heritage of European science fiction bande dessinee (it is also, mercifully, a very, very different beast from the Rob Liefeld original). Trying to describe the various short scenarios that follow the more traditionally linear introduction tale simply wouldn’t do them justice; this is an unusual, hugely imaginative slice of sci-fi that has to be experienced. Even then you probably still wont know entirely what is going on, but that’s just fine, it’s better to have some mysteries than be spoon-fed as a reader (the author is trusting the reader’s own intelligence to help navigate these tales) and besides it leaves you wanting more; I’ll certainly be picking up the next volume.