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Picks of the Trade: Prophet Vol. 3

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I tell you what, when it comes to the revamped Prophet from Image Comics, Brandon Graham, Simon Roy and Gianis Milonogianni there are most certainly smarter people out there that can talk about it. People that might get subtle things that I missed having only read it once and months apart as I’m stuck on trade waiting the series, or people that read the original Rob Liefeld series and might have more insight into what’s going on but, unfortunately for you, you’re stuck with me.

Now, Prophet is really not a read once and move on kind of book, as you might have gathered from the jumble of words above, and it’s most certainly something that you’ll re-read and continue to find new things and stuff that makes you go, “Ooooooh!” One read through of Volume 3: Empire and I’m not even sure I can express with words the depth and genius of this title. I don’t even think grunts and hand gestures would be sufficient enough to really grasp what Prophet is about and what you’re missing if you’re not reading it.

As a little back story, I started late which, if you were paying attention, was obvious because I said I had to trade wait… but that’s really not the point of this little story. One of the guys that used to work at my local shop was chatting with me about comics, probably around issue #22 or #23 of this run—which for those that don’t know started at #21 as a legacy numbering from Liefeld’s original run—and I was on a try something new kick and he was trying to explain Prophet to me. Now, I can’t recall exactly how he tried to explain it but I’m going to guess it boils down to “It’s AMAZING you just have to read it.” Because that’s really what it comes down to. Until you read this story, I find it hard to describe it to people. You more or less have to shove the first trade into their hands and tell them to go sit down somewhere and read it.

Needless to say, he was right; Prophet is amazing and I did indeed have to read it for myself to really get why. For those that might not be familiar with Brandon Graham, one of the masterminds behind this relaunch or reimagining, if you will, he’s a bit of a weird guy. I say this with the utmost amount of respect and admiration I can, but he’s definitely not your typical comic creator. Reading through some of his creator owned stuff like King City, which I loved, or Multiple Warhead, that I’m currently in the process of reading, and you’ll get a glimpse at who Brandon Graham is. I mean, if reading Prophet isn’t enough to get a glimpse of that, I suppose.

I don’t read a lot of Manga and, really, have barely scratched the surface of that genre, but it appears that Graham has included elements of Manga in his writing and his creator work, with his sound effects and some of the smaller little details and layouts. There’s just a different feel to his work than some of the “mainstream” stuff out there. Even if the Manga connection is a fluke, I’m thinking it’s safe to say that Graham is definitely not as influenced by “traditional” comics or, again, more of the “mainstream” stuff. It just doesn’t really show in his work. However he’s become the creator that he is, and it very well could be just all Brandon Graham, it works in the confines of Prophet.

Not reading the original series, it’s still clear that this was an “out there” type of series. Sure, it may have had some more traditional elements but it was something different and maybe that explains why it only lasted 20 issues. Especially then, it seems people were less inclined to try stuff that was out of the box or weird. People now seem to welcome it, which may explain the surge that Image is on and how they can basically do no wrong with any title they put that big “i” on.

Co-writers, or maybe co-plotters it doesn’t really specify, Simon Roy and Gianis Milonogianni handle the art in this volume as they have throughout this new direction of Prophet. The few issues for Roy and a few issues for Milonogianni collected in this volume really mesh together, and although their styles are different, it again just works. That’s coming from someone who always wants consistent art from the same artist throughout a book, so I like to think that says something. I feel as though Simon Roy has done the bulk of the work of Prophet up to this point, with a few issues done from guest artists for Graham himself, so as different as his style might be it’s something we’ve had plenty of time to get used to. Roy’s character/creature designs, it’s worth noting, are just something else. I don’t know where he comes up with this stuff, but every race is just unique and fantastic and disgusting and interesting, and maybe a few more adjectives, all rolled into one.

I’m ashamed to admit that as of writing this, I really don’t know a lot about Simon Roy—not that I know much about Brandon Graham either, but I have read some of his creator owned stuff so it’s a start—but I’m definitely going to try and rectify that. Roy’s work in Prophet, though really weird, has been top notch. He might not fit, much like Graham, into the “classic” idea of a comic artist but he makes everything his own; his style is 100% Simon Roy and I believe that he’s making a helluva name for himself with his work, both writing and art, on Prophet.

It’s interesting to note, mostly because I just learned it, that the idea for these artists was to cover a different version of Prophet throughout the series. So when there’s a story with new Father Prophet, Roy handles that issue. If there’s an issue with Old Man Prophet, Gianis Milonogianni handles that issue, and so on for the other contributing artists on this series. It makes sense when I think back to this volume, and it actually makes the artist changes more interesting than just your standard change because the artist can’t meet deadlines. I mean, really, when you look at this book I can’t imagine one person trying to keep up a monthly schedule while still doing this amount of detail and design and just work that goes into a single page. Hell, it’s hard to imagine this team being able to do it when you really look at the detail in the backgrounds and with the characters. There is not an inch of wasted space in any issue of Prophet no matter who’s doing the art.

For my money, I’ve really enjoyed Gianis Milonogianni’s work with Old Man Prophet and he just might be my favorite artist on the series. Some of that might be due to the fact that Old Man Prophet, or OMP because I’m going to say it again and I don’t want to type it out, is totally badass and he has an interesting, albeit weird, group of supporting characters around him. Or it could simply be I just enjoy the look and feel of Milonogianni’s art; the line detail, the almost messy feel to it… I don’t really know the reason. It’s one of those things that I just like because on some unexplainable level it speaks to me. Also, OMP has a badass old man beard. So, you know, there are points there.

Okay, look. I warned you at the beginning I wasn’t the best or smartest guy to try and break down Prophet. I like to think I made some good points here and I also like to think that if you—yes, you—are reading this and you’ve made it all the way down here and for some reason you haven’t read this series that you’re planning on picking up at least the first trade and checking it out. This is most definitely not your daddy’s comic, and it’s something different from anything I’ve read that’s out right now and, maybe, even anything I’ve read period.

But it’s a good sort of different. This series makes you think about what you’re reading and what’s going on and where it might be headed. After reading this collection I most definitely paused to just absorb everything (or try to absorb it) that I just read. It’s as I said many paragraphs before, definitely a series I’m going to have to re-read back to back to just get the entire view and scope of it and pick up on little things I might have missed in my excitement to see what’s on the next page. There’s so much on these pages, it’s just impossible to take it all in with just one read and that’s the beauty of it. Knowing what I know now about the creators and the story and all of that, I guarantee I come away from my inevitable re-read with a new found appreciation for the story and the creators than when I read it the first time.

If this volume and this series in general has blown me away on this level with just my first read, I think I’m going to have to adjust the scales that we rate with. I can give out more than five stars if the scale is out of five, right?

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