John Prophet In The 1,021st Century
by Philip R. Whigham
Prophet: Remission- Image Comics
Quickly! Tell me anything you know about obscure ’90’s Image Comic character Prophet. If you answered “Steroids-fueled, mullet-wearing, sword-guy with boxing headgear,” you’d have summed up my entire knowledge on the subject before I read the first volume of Image’s relaunch of the title.
Prophet was very much a product of the 1990’s philosophy of “If it ain’t over the top, grim, and brooding, it ain’t gonna sell funny books.” Created by the worst offender of this aesthetic, Rob Liefeld, this muscle-bound meat-head of a bland mook by all rights should have slipped quietly off to comic book oblivion. As unlikely as it seems, John Prophet has been saved and transformed into into one of the most fascinating characters in comics today.
Writer Brandon Graham, along with a stellar array of artists, has relaunched the book using the original title’s enumeration (beginning the re-launch with issue 21.) The new creative team have stripped the original character of any baggage and launched him ten thousand years into the future. Here we find John Prophet awakened from hibernation with a singular mission: find his way to a tower, climb it, and awaken a sleeping God, all the while a mysterious voice in his head urges him forward to complete his mission and rekindle The Earth Empire.
The art in this book is stunning. Simon Roy, Farel Dalrymple, and Giannis Milonogiannis, trade off penciling duties, each bringing a unique voice to a unified style. Grand, ultra-detailed vistas of a distant future are populated by bizarrely mutated wildlife and mysterious and equally bizarre aliens. The colors in the book are often subtle, with the quality of the light usually casting a wash on entire panels, and even entire pages, evoking a strong sense of atmosphere. The whole art style reminds me strongly of Moebius’ work in Heavy Metal.
The story in this book is pure Pulp. Graham pens a tale of a warrior awakened to a world which is utterly changed from the world he knew. John Prophet is compelled on a mission that leads him across this alien Earth encountering the decidedly non-human races who have inherited his homeworld. He has to kill some of these strange creatures, work for some, and even mate with some on his quest. The reader is given little to no context for this strange world at first, but Graham’s narration quickly gives you insight into what befell the Earth. The story reads like Conan the Barbarian meets John Carter of Mars.
Album: Mount Eerie- Wind’s Poem-– The roaring guitar, Phil Elverum’s haunted voice, and the delicate stretches of desolate music on this 2009 album makes a great soundtrack for Prophet.
Beer: Dogfish Head’s Theobroma- This strong earthy ale has hints of honey and chocolate and chilies and has a savage, untamed vibe. It’s easy to imagine this brew in Prophet’s strange future.
Comic: Prophet: Remission- The first graphic novel collection of this excellent comic covers issues #21-26. Ask for it in your friendly local comic book shop!