As reboots go, PROPHET is somewhat out of the ordinary. Image’s update bears only a passing resemblance to the Extreme title from the ’90s on which it is based. Yet instead of beginning at the beginning with a #1, the creators decided to pick up the numbering where it left off, at #21. The effect is somewhat disorienting. Is it important that we know what came before? Honestly it’s probably best enjoyed if you don’t. The original Rob Leifeld-penned PROPHET is an artifact from a different time in American comics, replete with boisterous dialogue and heavily exaggerated physiques. The rebooted book, written by Brandon Graham, is a much more cerebral take on the character and the space barbarian subgenre in general.
Prophet Vol. 1: Remission collects issues #21-26, or the first six issues in Graham’s reboot. The first half of the book follows John Prophet as he awakens on a desolate and alien-infested Earth and attempts to reboot the human empire. Along the way he encounters the rusted out remnants of human civilization and must battle warriors from a number of extraterrestrial species. This section is illustrated by the formidable Simon Roy, whose conservatively inked pages allow his colors to dominate. Later artists, including Graham himself, stick to the clean lines and color palette established early on by Roy.
The rest of the book can be summarized as the further adventures of John Prophet and friends, and here the book loses its way slightly. Read as a monthly comic, these loosely-connected stories seem to advance the overall plot, but the real joy is in the awe-inspiring world building of Graham and new artists Farel Dalrymple and Giannis Milonogiannis. Read in a single sitting, the book could feel like a novella and 3 short stories. Despite the reading experience being enjoyable, the reader could be left looking for the thread of plot that holds them all together.
Graham is a self-professed Moebius admirer, and the artists’ influence is everywhere here, from vast orbiting cityscapes to geometric patterns to fantastical creatures. That being said, Graham and company are marvelously inventive in their own right, and reading a Prophet story can leave the reader in awe at the possibilities of science fiction in comics.
There’s little reason to buy this volume if you’ve been buying the monthlies. The book offers no introduction, no sketchbook section, and furthermore excises most of the backup stories from the individual issues. Aside from being a collection of one of the best science fiction comics of the year, the creators have offered no incentive to wait for the trade.