Story and Art by Brandon Graham
Review by Rajan Khanna
If you would have told me months ago that a comic from Extreme Studios, a Rob Liefeld creation no less, would become one of my favorite new comics, I would have laughed in your face. Yet, that’s exactly what has happened with the newly relaunched Prophet, written in all its weird glory by Brandon Graham.
I think it would be fair to say that most of Liefeld’s creations drew inspiration from American superhero comics. Yet this new Prophet take seems born of European science fiction comics. From the art style to the far future setting and strange alien life, this comic seems to share more DNA with the creations of Moebius rather than those of Stan Lee and Chris Claremont.
This new vision follows John Prophet, or rather several John Prophets, throughout a far future landscape. The narrative doesn’t even follow a strict linear path and so far the arcs are linked mostly by the world and the background information that is revealed a little bit at a time.
One of the great things about Prophet is that since it isn’t just about one person, the peril is real. Characters can be seriously wounded or die. Actually, lots of them die. And, in a nice contrast to many superhero comics, characters eat. They eat quite a bit, and there’s something grounding about that, even in the far flung reaches of space.
I’m a science fiction fan, and while I typically get excited about so-called cosmic comics, I find a lot of them to be a little too slick. All space battles and energy beams and big moments. Prophet brings a sense of realism. The characters sleep, they strive, they mourn, they suffer, they want. Which is not to say that there’s no action — there’s plenty of that — but there are also quieter and smaller moments, and sometimes these have the more impact.
The latest issue, #26, tells a story of a Jaxson, a kind of robot drone that was created to serve what I expect is the original John Prophet. Jaxson is on an alien world, on a mission, when he discovers another of his brothers. Much of the story is concerned with this relationship, two non-humans, veterans of combat, who share a poignant moment. That Graham can make us care about these creatures, after only introducing them in this issue, is impressive.
The art here is a slight departure from previous issues, not surprisingly because Graham did the chores himself. We’re given a lot of large panels, landscapes of the alien planet. The colors are washed out, mostly grey or beige, and yet it loses none of its vividness. There’s something refreshing about this style that makes me long for more of it. And it fits in well with the previous art on the title, though here there’s more of a sense of space.
Additionally, there’s a backup in this issue (like most recent issues) from Emma Rios. This short little piece is really fantastically done, showing a Prophet fallen down into an alien spider’s lair. What she does with the flow of time in the short really impressed me.
Buy this book. This is one of the most refreshing comics I’ve come across in a long time. If the Liefeld pedigree of Prophet worries you, let me allay your fears – this is something new and different and we should have more comics like this. If you’re a fan of weird science fiction concepts, this is for you. Hell, if you’re a fan of good comics, this is for you.