Prophet: Joining (Volume 4) – A Book Review

Joining is gloriously indecipherable.  I’ve followed this series since the beginning, and its utter disregard for the audience’s sensibilities and needs are refreshing.

This is science fiction at its frustratingly best.  When you open a volume of Prophet, you are doing so on the narrator’s terms.  You are entering a universe you do not recognize, and, such as with the real world, life goes on and has always done so despite your opinions on the matter.

Prophet has some of the most detailed technology, alien life forms, and religion I’ve ever read in a book, yet the narrator delivers only the surface level of these things.  Most of it confuses the reader, yet, at my core, I believe there is great depth to everything the reader encounters – we simply don’t understand.  In Prophet, we are the true aliens.

In the hands of different writers or artists, Joining could be an absolute mess.  But it’s not.  There is something beautiful about it, something otherworldly and transcendent.  However, if you asked me to tell you what it’s actually about, I wouldn’t have a clue.

Take heart, though, there is a little guide at the back of this volume that offers accounts of things we’ve previously wondered.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say it explains anything clearly, but it does offer a new perspective.

I’m afraid I am not completely happy with Joining, though.  The characters from Youngblood continue to make appearances in this title.  And while I know they all originate from the same place, Prophet has entered a world all its own and it’s jarring to see characters like “Shaft” and “Badrock” in such an otherwise original work.  Keep in mind, I said the same thing about “Diehard” when he first appeared, but he has now won me over.

I don’t know where this title is going, nor do I particularly care.  I’m simply glad to experience it.

Prophet: Brothers by Brandon Grapham – A Book Review

As you may recall, I lauded the first volume of Prophet published by Image comics as a startlingly original, unpredictable, almost revolutionary work in that it went against the grain of most comic book conventions.  In the first volume, we witnessed the rebirth of several John Prophets and followed their plights in unusually alien worlds.  It didn’t’ reveal much of what was going on, did not focus on any one character for too long, explored an expansive universe, and displayed a wildly visionary story.  I’d never read anything quite like it and instantly became a devoted fan.

Or so I thought.

Unfortunately, in the second volume, Prophet comes back down to Earth as it realigns with customary comic book craft.

In this second volume, we meet the original John Prophet.  And though the story takes place far into the future, he is joined by Diehard, who you may remember from the comic book series Youngblood.  We even are given a brief glimpse of the character Supreme.  Old man Prophet is seeking out past allies to aid him in the coming war.  This volume is linear and, though the art is still gritty and thrillingly unattractive, rather boring.  The first volume seemed intent on creating an entire universe, one that delighted with its uniqueness.  But this volume focuses on one character with his prerequisite band of misfit cronies.  It all seemed the antithesis of the first volume.

I’ll be honest, Diehard really ruined the book for me.  I just wanted this book to continue being so inimitable, but with Diehard in it, it can’t help but make me think that this is a “super hero” book when that is the last thing it set itself up to be.  And with all of the imaginative alien names and language, having a character called “Diehard” is jarring to the experience and takes this reader out of the moment.

I will read volume three upon its release, because I believe in the creators’ work, but if things don’t change, it may be my last volume.

By the way, if you haven’t read the first volume, entitled Remission, do so immediately. As probably made evident, it’s one of the best graphic novels I’ve read in some time.

Prophet: Remission – A Book Review

Because I’d heard such good things about the Prophet revitalization, I decided to check it out.  I rarely read reviews before buying a book, mostly due to fear of spoilers, but because I wanted to be sure I spent my money well, I did just that this time around.  The reviews were, like the word of mouth I’d experienced, favorable.

I pulled the trigger and bought a copy.

Let me be frank … the reviews did not do it justice.

At the age of thirty-six, I basically just want one thing from my books and movies—originality.  Please give me something new, something I haven’t seen before.  Now, I realize this is an ironic statement considering that Prophet is a reboot of sorts, but trust me, this book is blazing new trails.

In fact, Prophet: Remission is one of the most original and refreshingly weird books I’ve read in quite a long time.

It begins with John Prophet awakening in the far, far future.  Humanity is seemingly lost, and the world is a devastated heap inhabited by creatures that you’ll have to see to believe.  He has one mission, to try to “awaken the Earth empire.”

But, as you’ll soon realize with this book, what you presume to come next does not.  In fact, Prophet delighted in its unpredictability.  I love that the writers are building their own worlds by their own rules.  All of the medium’s conventions for which you expect are gone—this is a book unlike any other.

The prose is sparse and direct, and the artwork is … well, it’s excellent, but it’s not pretty.  It looks like the world is falling apart.  The creatures are gross.  The tone is unpleasant.  In other words, the art fits the story perfectly and is absolutely part of the reason Prophet won me over.

This isn’t a super hero book, and that’s a good thing.  John Prophet is almost out of a Cormac McCarthy novel—he’s tough, resolute, and absolutely self-reliant.  This is not a science fiction story, though it does wade heavily into those waters.  It’s not a fantasy space epic, but it carries that vibe, too.  There is plenty of adventure, to be sure, but there seems to be an underlying philosophical message just beneath the surface.  Is it a post-apocalyptic dystopian tale?  In all honestly, I don’t know how to label this book, and that’s fantastic.

I want to keep reading Prophet for one simple reason: I have no idea where this story is going.