Thursday, November 29, 2012

Pull List Review: Prophet #31

When Prophet began almost a year ago, Brandon Graham took his sweet time building up the central story piece by piece. It was a strong series right away, but an intentionally slow-burning one, with many issues designed to introduce a single character or concept. Last issue, all of that gradual set-up hit a major peak, and Old Man John Prophet finally had his full team assembled to battle the Earth Empire. That brings us to Prophet #31, which seems to be starting a new cycle of steadily planting seeds so that they can blossom into delicious fruits of story down the line. It's an excellent issue, but one which I liked as much because of what it promises for the future as for what it actually contained in its pages.
     Old Man Prophet wants to form an alliance with the as-of-yet-unseen Woman Army, so he arranges to have a meeting with them, and he and his companions arrive at the location of said meeting and spend some time there preparing themselves. We see Prophet talk with Troll, an old friend of his, who warns him of terrible things to come, which noticeably worries him. But before he can even fully react, he and Diehard discover an open Earth Empire pod, and their new priority becomes finding and killing the Prophet clone who emerged from it. This leads to the first direct conflict between Old Man Prophet's group and the Earth Empire, which our heroes win almost instantly. Not the most exciting of fight scenes, but what it lacks in action it makes up for in brutality and visual appeal.
     Visual appeal is the name of the game when it comes to Prophet anyway, and Giannis Milonogiannis is my personal favorite of the book's rotating team of artists. There is a breathtaking two-page spread right at the start of this issue of two giants floating in space, one of whom is dismembered (and has had his body parts colonized) and the other is curled up in a ball, presumably sleeping. I could not stop looking at those pages, even returning to them while reading the rest of the issue to get another fix. And there's more like that. The fight scene, as I said, is exquisite, all harsh reds and stark whites. Lots of really powerful coloring throughout, actually. Then there's squat, faceless Jaxson strolling around in a hooded robe, which made me do a bit of a double take and subsequently laugh out loud. But my favorite single image has got to be when Diehard looks longingly at Rein-East and we see her distorted reflection in his face. It's a heartbreaking panel, and of all the seeds for future stories planted in this issue, this is the one for which I am most excited.
     Old Man Prophet's strange, sad connection to Rein-East is another piece of groundwork laid out here that I imagine will be significant later on, but really the biggest thing is waiting to see what goes down with the Woman Army. Who they are, what they can potentially offer the cause, and what they'll actually do are all intriguing questions. I'm also crossing my fingers that this isn't the last we've seen of Troll, a wonderfully enigmatic and strangely-spoken creature who I'm betting will have a sizable role to play before all is said and done. So there's a whole lot to look forward to, as well as plenty to enjoy in the present.
     There is no more reliable a comicbook on the shelves today than Prophet, and issue #31, while not explosive or active as some, is a damn fine example of what this title can do. Brandon Graham obviously has a carefully-thought-out plan in place, and every issue adds a brick or two and excites me for whatever will follow. This time even more so than usual.

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