Prophet: Remission by Brandon Graham (2012) 136 p.
I’m trying to read more comics, but not being a fan of the whole superhero thing means I have to be fairly discerning when trying to collate a to-be-read list from various internet sources and “100 Greatest lists” etc. As it turns out, John Prophet is in fact a superhero, albeit a short-lived one – but you wouldn’t know it from this comic.
Prophet: Remission is the stuff of dazzling space opera, as Prophet awakes from cryosleep tens of thousands of years in the future and roams across an unrecognisable Earth, colonised by bizarre alien species and scattered with the decaying ruins of long-forgotten civilisations. This is heady stuff, the best kind of fantasy and science fiction hybrid, the sort of thing you might read about at Clarkesworld. Prophet: Remission is low on exposition, and as John survives in a city made from the decaying, crashed body of a once-living spaceship, or joins an alien convoy to travel across a harsh desert, I often had little idea what was going on. But this is what makes comics so wonderful: the visual element means I’m more than willing to forgive the confusion, which I probably wouldn’t be in a novel or short story.
This reboot of the original series – which is apparently little-known even among comic fans – is spearheaded by Brandon Graham, creator of the brilliant King City. Different chapters are illustrated by different artists (Simon Roy, Farel Dalrymple, Giannis Milongiannis and Graham himself), which sounds confusing, but there’s a good plot-related reason for it which I won’t give away, and which makes it very appropriate. Nonetheless, I still enjoyed Roy’s branch the most, simply because at three chapters (half the book) it’s the longest. What always bothers me about comics and graphic novels is that they’re too short, although obviously it takes a long time to illustrate and colour all those fun images. I just wish I could discover something old that ran for decades and has now been collated in a great big bundle – I’m certainly open to suggestions from people with more experience than me.