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Comic Review: PROPHET #45

The experience of my first issue of Brandon Graham and Simon Roy’s Prophet being my last was (appropriately) jarring – weird. Of course it’s jarring – I’m coming into a multi-year space epic with neither the context nor the vernacular to understand what’s going on, like thumbing into a random page in the middle of Dune and complaining that I don’t understand what all of the big fuss about the spice melange is about.

So my experience reading and thus trying to review this final issue of Prophet has to be broken, right? That’s pretty much the case, and somehow, through that “broken” experience, I want to go back and devour every preceding chapter of this book. So consider this a review for newbies: long-time Prophet fans and writers Brandon Graham and Simon Roy, I want to apologize in advance for this rudimentary review, but Prophet #45 was such a meaty and overwhelming book that I can’t help but talk about it, while trying to assemble some of the narrative that came before (don’t worry, I’m buying the first trades as soon as I wrap this piece).

As near as I can tell, there’s John – shaggy, bearded, fighting a monster in a pit. Illustrated by Farel Darymple, he’s a club-wielding space savage gutting some bestial horror before vomiting up a pink baby-thing. A “neocore” as the impassive narration describes it. I have no idea why the humanoid John has a deadly, prehensile tail or why, later, we meet an older man, also called “John” who as near as I can tell is a clone or something and that there are tons of Johns acting as would-be saviors?

I was overwhelmed by the rich mix of details in the book, how the scenes in the arena – dense with detail and fury by Darymple (Omega: The Unknown) – shift to cold, hard sci-fi with the art of Giannis Milonogiannis (Old City Blues). Graham and Roy deploy Darymple for the meat and the violence and Milonogiannis for the grand space war and the two styles mesh in a book that’s like a cauldron of a thousand different elements, written in a jargon I only half-understand.

Graham’s script (with a story-by credit for Roy) is rich with all of these strange little details, organic ships and tyrannical hive consciousnesses, with John at the center but somehow also off to the side (he’s only one of many, so it’s kind of about all of the Johns, isn’t it). In the final pages, facing an odd kind of defeat that’s half-victory by the Empire (oh, there’s apparently also an evil empire), John (one of them) vows that it won’t end like this. Given how fantastic this issue was, I hope it doesn’t.

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