Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Prophet Volume 1: Remission

Prophet Volume 1: RemissionProphet Volume 1: Remission by Brandon Graham
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Prophet is the multi-layered, possibly even multi-dimensional, story of the awakening of John Prophet in a variety of guises. Each John Prophet may or may not be a unique entity, which begs the question of who, or what, exactly is John Prophet?

The strange tone of the story echos the sort of disassociated congnizance of Donnie Darko, but it is never clear whether or not John Prophet is insane, dreaming, or a real, cloned entity sent on the quest (or quests) to ascend the towers of Thauilu Vah and awaken the Earth Empire.

The many settings in which the John Prophets find themselves (or is it only one man finding himself?) are unified by organic, almost mystical artwork reminiscent of the old Heavy Metal magazine . . . minus the naked women. In fact, the five artists who contribute to various sections of the book, Simon Roy, Farel Dalrymple, Brandon Graham, Giannis Milonogiannis, and Marian Churchland, have created worlds and creatures that are more Moebius than Moebius. And though each artist has stamped his or her mark on the story(ies), all seem to be giving each other a knowing head nod and grin indicated "we did this together". This is, in a strange way, comforting. Sometimes artist try too hard to differentiate "their" hero from another artist's hero, even when it's the same character. While that might work well in different series, I like the team-play exhibited here. The Emma Rios short story at the end might be the most stylistically out-of-place, but it is a separate entity and doesn't distract from the overall unity of the graphic novel proper.

Some have complained about Prophet's elusive plot, but I think that the muddling of the narrative actually adds to the ambiance and gives readers a taste of what it must be like to be John Prophet waking from who-knows-how-long of a hyber-pod sleep into a strange world. Pre-programming or intuition or even a ghostly guide compel him to undertake his quest through landscapes and among creatures that he may or may not understand, depending on which John Prophet we follow. Each of them is equipped with an impressive array of survival equipment, some of it manufactured, some organic, some combining aspects of both. This aspect I thoroughly enjoyed - the technology, the weapons, modes of transportation - have a thoroughly biotic feel to them and many are explicitly biological in nature. Given recent advances in organic computers, I suspect that these sorts of bio-mechanical tools are the way of the future. And yet, the ultra-high-tech organic machinery seemed, somehow, ancient, which adds further folds to the mystique of the story itself.

In essence, I loved everything about Prophet. I bought this book sight unseen, based on the several reviews I had read and seeing a snippet or two of the art. I'm glad I took a chance and found this treasure. This is one of the best graphic novels I have read in recent memory, up there with Ojingogo (but for different reasons). Consider me an addict. Cannot wait for my next fix!

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