Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Alan Moore, J.H. Williams III, Mick Gray, Charles Vess - Promethea (Book 1) (2001)

One thing I've learned over the years: anything Alan Moore touches is gold.

He has several amazing runs under his belt (Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Swamp Thing, From Hell, etc.) and is credited for single-handedly bringing literary merit to the comics genre. In my experience there's nobody that comes close to him as a writer in the field.

Now that the fellatio is out of the way, let me tell you, Promethea is no exception to any of those aforementioned comics. The story is fantastic: the main character, Sophie Bangs, an everyday girl from a neon-overloaded and dysfunctional New York City in 1999 is investigating a peculiar comic book character for an essay.

This character is Promethea, who is the reincarnation of sorts of the daughter of a 5th century Hermetic scholar and magician in Roman Egypt. In dying at the hands of a Christian mob, the gods intervene and wist his daughter into the Immateria, their realm of myth and imagination. From here the dream-concept of this girl wanders into the minds of various mortals who can in fact channel the character onto themselves or others.

I won't say more, lest I possibly spoil the story, but rest assured it's a typical Moore yarn: very accessible, yet heady and complex. The story is highly experimental, as is the art, which draws references from everything from film noir posters of the 1920s to M.C. Escher, to World War I poster artist J.C. Leyendecker.

Story-wise, Moore's interest in magic comes through, while featuring superhero action as well as metaphysical and psychedelic concepts prominently. For example, one part of the comic has two characters moving through a nightmarish, corrupted section of the Immateria: the ground as far as the eye can see is skulls, while bloody torsos hang from trees. A giant crow is in the distance, as are several launched warheads, and the sky adorned with roses that drip seemingly like blood. Trippy.

I knew after a bit of investigation that this would be an intensely interesting comic, if nothing else, but overall it's extremely compelling, and all the bizarre concepts mesh nicely without bogging down the heart of the story. I can't wait to get my hands on the rest of the collections. Check this out.

Verdict: Epic Win

3 comments:

Whatever Unicorn said...

I'm chuffed to see a comic review up. I've been meaning to track down his Swamp Thing work.

JD said...

Swamp Thing is amazing, dude. The first issue is actually available for free from DC on this page.

http://www.dccomics.com/vertigo/graphic_novels/?gn=1661

Whatever Unicorn said...

I got it all already, thanks though ;)