Written by Brandon Graham with art by Simon Roy, Farel Dalrymple, Giannis Milonogiannis and Brandon Graham
Published by Image Comics
In a strange, far-flung future, a clone of John Prophet awakens from cryosleep and is attacked by a Tulnaka (the irradiated creature in the panels below). The action never slows after this, Prophet finds himself fighting mind-controlled wolves, hunting strange fish and needing all his wits and cool head to survive.
Simon Roy is the first artist and his art is fun yet deliberate, with an often dirty and gloopy organicness to everything. His action sequences are great, there’s blood, sweat and saliva; the characters strain to survive.
Graham is so joyful in his exploration of this world, there are living ships that break down and rot to give their mold people, “a base to grow their fermentation from.” He is unafraid of using an idea and throws them at the page constantly. I wanted to read more exuberant sci-fi after this, I craved more ideas.
I love the use of Inventory in this book. It is a fantastic idea pulled straight from playing RPG video games, which works as a cool visual motif but also drags me deeper into the story. After he awakens Prophet does a quick tally of his supplies and that’s all he has to survive. I started questioning how each tool could be used, and it was kept consistent and believable with some items not popping up til later issues. Prophet is always eating or on the lookout for his next meal. I love that. Again like an RPG the food heals him and sometimes bestows strange powers.
Farel Dalrymple takes over art for the second story, which focuses on a different Prophet clone in another part of the galaxy. Dalrymple has a crisper, more detailed style which is complimentary to Roy’s while still keeping the characters and arcs visually separated.
“The subclass die by hand and steel.” This is straight up Sci-Fi Conan and it is so good. Graham captions the book throughout, but rather than just repeating what we see in the art, it adds depth and clarity to Prophet’s actions and helps to label and explain some of these sci-fi ideas flying around. John Prophet is a taciturn bugger who travels alone much of the time and doesn’t have many chances to drop exposition in conversation.
Graham himself draws an issue and it’s a looser, less detailed style than the previous artists. I found the melancholy and simplicity of his lines suiting this part of the story well. His art is softer, simpler and more human yet it follows what seems to be two robot suited Prophet clones as they search for the Earth Empire. There are so many touches I just love, like the two Robo-Prophets doing a fist bump before leaping through a wormhole to cross the galaxy.
The final story is drawn by Giannis Milonigiannis and is my pick of the bunch. It features three different versions of the Prophet clone and is drawn in a way that is different yet completely complementary to the three other artists. There’s a great surprise ending that left me hanging for more tales of the many John Prophets and their adventures.
Should I buy it? This is going to be a classic comic. I love it and can’t rate it highly enough. Brandon Graham loves the comic books and that just radiates off the page. The artists are all distinct and all excellent. So yes.
Image comics is raising the bar with smart and exciting comics by young and hungry creators who just sink their teeth into the work. Comics like this make me excited for the future and thankful for the present.
Next Week: Vikings. Brian Woods’ first volume of the excellent Northlanders.