Island 3 (September 2015)

Island #3

This Island, after opening on José Domingo’s quirky, fantastical, intricate look at an island, ends with the most depressing thing possible. After almost eighty pages of fantasy, Kate Craig’s story of a stranded hikers brings the comic–and the reader–back to reality. A depressing reality.

Overall, most of the stories this issue are undercooked. Malachi Ward and Matt Sheean have slightly future story where everyone’s linked into “the Service;” it’s too bad they didn’t just brand it as a certain fruit-named company. (Or do whatever Bill Amend did in “Fox Trot”). They spend too much time on exposition for what’s actually a simple concept. The narrative meanders–the protagonist, cut off from the instant, useless knowledge of the Internet, finds himself in an ominous situation. It’s all right, but clearly in need of an editor.

Dilraj Mann does this punk thing, one character leading to another character, leading to another character. Looping around. It makes you want to either read Love and Rockets or just look at Love and Rockets covers, because Mann’s art isn’t there and his storytelling isn’t either.

Amy Clare’s art is problematic for a comic–there’s a certain flatness to it and she doesn’t scale it well–but it’s good. Her writing is intentionally obtuse; she wants to make the reader work at getting into her story about a female enforcer in a vague dystopian future, only she takes really obvious shortcuts to exposition. The protagonist, after a year of slipping under the customs radar, gets busted for the story. I think. Like I said, Clare makes the reader work at it.

Tessa Black does an H.R. Giger thing. It may read entirely different to others, but if you’ve seen Species, it’s an H.R. Giger thing.

So it’s definitely a mixed bag this issue of Island but what’s impressive is how worthwhile, even with the unevenness, the comic remains.

CREDITS

Contributors, José Domingo, Malachi Ward, Matt Sheean, Dilraj Mann, Amy Clare, Tessa Black and Kate Craig; publisher, Image Comics.

Prophet: Strikefile 2 (November 2014)

Prophet: Strikefile #2

Strikefile continues with more strangeness. This time, in the individual subjects, the strangeness has to do with Rob Liefeld. He contributes a page of art–a superhero team, of course, called Youngstar. Plus there are some further Liefeld references later. It’s strange; even though Prophet never shied away from the references to old Image books… in Strikefile, they stand out more.

The issue opens with the history of the universe–courtesy Simon Roy, Matt Sheehan and Malachi Ward. It’s strange, imaginative, engaging, makes you want to pay more attention to the details while still wanting to skim them to get to the artistic eccentricities. In other words, it’s definitely a Prophet comic.

Opening with it, however, makes the rest of the issue–all of the subject topics getting a page or two (a pinup and a paragraph)–a bit sluggish. Grim Wilkins’s final contribution is a neat one page strip.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writers, Simon Roy and Brandon Graham; artists, Matt Sheehan, Malachi Ward, Gael Bertrand, Rob Liefeld, Roy, Addison Duke, Lodroe, Grim Wilkins, Sandra Lanz, Xurxo G. Penalta, Graham and Tom Parkinson-Morgan; colorists, Sheenan, Ward and Joseph Bergin III; letterer, Ed Brisson; publisher, Image Comics.

Prophet: Strikefile 1 (September 2014)

Prophet: Strikefile #1

Prophet: Strikefile, after the entire relaunched series, explains a lot of what's been going on in the comic. The writers of Prophet always let in little details about the universe, without ever doing full exposition. Strikefile simultaneously has that full exposition, but writers Simon Roy and Brandon Graham still tell it in a reserved manner. They still rely on the art to subtly infer, for example.

The issue has a lot of different artists, most of them regular artists from the series, so they know how to compose an informative Prophet page.

Roy's opening history of the universe–with Grim Wilkins on art–is so dense, the subsequent pages covering various Prophet people, places and things is all gravy.

In their exposition, Roy and Graham maintain a somewhat playful attitude; it's like they know Strikefile is extraneous but they still want to have fun with it.

And, while entirely superfluous, it succeeds.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writers, Simon Roy and Brandon Graham; artists, Roy, Grim Wilkins, Graham, Sandra Lanz,Matt Sheehan, Malachi Ward, Bayard Baudoin, Onta, Giannis Milonogiannis, Joseph Bergin III, Ron Ackins and Tom Parkinson-Morgan; colorists, Sheehan, Ward and Amy Clare; letterer, Ed Brisson; publisher, Image Comics.

Prophet 43 (March 2014)

Prophet #43

The difference between a divine Prophet and an excellent one? The divine one has less story. The issue opens with the tree-man on Old John’s team. Bayard Baudoin does the art for his story. It’s very stylized, very lyrical. In just a few pages, Baudoin is able to define how the tree-man sees the universe and his place in it.

Except the issue isn’t just his story. It starts with him, moves to the space battle–including another fun flashback to Youngblood. Even though Graham and Roy use such flashbacks more often now, they’re still surprising. For a moment Prophet all of a sudden becomes a comic about comics, a wild imagining of what could be. Then the moment passes–organically–and the story continues. It’s a very nice move the writers make.

The third part involves the slaves (from many issues ago); it’s setup. Good, but obviously setup.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writers, Brandon Graham and Simon Roy; artists, Bayard Baudoin, Giannis Milonogiannis, Roy, Matt Sheean and Malachi Ward; colorists, Joseph Bergin III, Baudoin, Sheean and Ward; letterer, Ed Brisson. Pieces; writer and artist, Daniel Warren Johnson; colorist, Doug Garbark. Publisher, Image Comics.

Prophet 41 (December 2013)

Prophet 41 1

Wait… Did I really read the whole thing? It feels like there should be more. Graham and Roy are back to splitting the issue between new and old John Prophet–though here it’s mostly the sidekicks of the Newfather and not much for the old John’s team–and nothing gets resolved.

Even the cliffhanger is goofy, bringing in a new threat in the last couple pages and then the comic just stops.

Then comes Ron Ackins strange back-up about a black cop defending a city in the future where some African nation has built a new civilization for African Americans. Ackins can’t write–for the first two pages, I thought it was an ad for a music group–and he doesn’t draw well either.

Like I said, it’s an awkward issue. Even in the feature, Graham and Roy rush through their character moments, which they usually spend time on.

B- 

CREDITS

Writers, Brandon Graham and Simon Roy; artists, Giannis Milonogiannis, Roy, Matt Sheean and Malachi Ward; colorists, Joseph Bergin III, Sheean and Ward; letterer, Ed Brisson. Lancaster Bleu; writer and artist, Rob Ackins. Publisher, Image Comics.

Prophet 40 (October 2013)

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Graham and Roy mostly just work towards bringing the New John together with the Old John, even though Old John doesn’t seem to understand what’s going on yet. He’s a pawn on the intergalactic chessboard, which this issue includes the return of Badrock–an old Image hero from some series or another–and a Cthulhu-like thing flying across the galaxy towards them.

There’s time for some character stuff with Old John, but it’s only a page or so and not as affecting as the conversation between two of New John’s team. One forgets Graham and Roy were able to take Prophet so far in such relatively few issues.

The main story ends up suffering from a lovely little back-up from Nerd O’Reilly. A wizard gets mad at his crystal skull (it’s animate, of course) and it’s a touching, funny little story.

The feature’s just too rambling in comparison.

CREDITS

Writers, Brandon Graham and Simon Roy; artists, Giannis Milonogiannis, Roy, Matt Sheean and Malachi Ward; colorist, Joseph Bergin III; letterer, Ed Brisson. Crystal Wizard; writer and artist, Paul Bohm. Publisher, Image Comics.

Prophet 39 (September 2013)

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It’s the Diehard issue, which is an easy pick for favorite Prophet issue but maybe only because Graham and Roy get to do a summary story covering about 10,000 years.

They open with a retelling–I assume, I have no idea–of Diehard’s origin on Earth in the twentieth century. The art, by era, is from one person or another (or a team). It’s all awesome, with Lando’s standing out the most because it’s such a sad story.

Anyway, there’s a first act, a second act, a little third act. Even though the issue moves fast, across the galaxy (and beyond) and through thousands of years, Graham and Roy show the the effects on Diehard and how he changes. Graham is doing so much with Prophet already, I guess he figured he had to do amazing things with forgotten superheroes too.

Lovely, muted Paul Bohm backup too.

Truly exquisite stuff.

CREDITS

Diehard; writers, Brandon Graham and Simon Roy; artists, Giannis Milonogiannis, Joseph Bergin III, Matt Sheean, Malachi Ward, James Stokoe, Aaron Conley, Lando, Ron Wimberly, Graham and Roy; colorist, Bergin; letterer, Ed Brisson. Backup; writer and artist, Paul Bohm. Publisher, Image Comics.

Prophet 36 (June 2013)

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So New John is just Newfather now. Very easy. Oh, and nice cameo again–Graham really seems to enjoy the winks. He’s able to put them in and move right along. It helps Old John’s crew is so personable. Wouldn’t work without them.

There’s a little on Diehard’s crushing again this issue. Nothing ominous but it’s hard to say how it’ll work out. You can never guess with Prophet.

Graham now has Newfather set up his own crew. They’re not as personable–they are just clones after all–but he’s making the juxtaposing between the two Johns more similar in delivery while maintaining difference in texture. Very cool. They’re on the same mission too, so a meet-up is inevitable.

The Care backup is positively distressing this time. The art’s grossness hurts the strip big time. One fixates on the ick factor, not the delicate profoundness of the actual story.

CREDITS

Prophet; writers, Brandon Graham and Simon Roy; artists, Roy, Giannis Milonogiannis, Matt Sheehan and Malachi Ward; colorists, Joseph Bergin III, Roy, Sheehan and Ward; letterer, Ed Brisson. Care, Part Three; writers, artists and colorists, Sheean and Ward. Publisher, Image Comics.

Prophet 35 (May 2013)

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Graham has seemingly hit a lull issue. Not a bad issue, but definitely some kind of a bridging one. It’s always hard to say with Prophet, since Graham and his collaborators often do something unexpected.

He splits the issue between Old John and New John. Old John is traveling to meet The Troll, a warlord of some kind apparently, who occupies a moon of Mars. There’s some great stuff with his crew, some oddly touching moments and some funny ones. Very grand scale sci-fi stuff.

New John, on the other hand, should have grand scale too–he’s part of an attack to defeat these aliens who Graham leaves obscure–but Milonogiannis never amps up the huge battle. There are establishing shots, some quick interludes, some expository help, but it feels oddly small. Even though it’s obviously huge.

The Care backup continues to be weird. Better this issue than last.

CREDITS

Prophet; writers, Brandon Graham and Simon Roy; artist, Giannis Milonogiannis; colorist, Joseph Bergin III; letterer, Ed Brisson. Care, Part Two; writers, artists and colorists, Matt Sheean and Malachi Ward. Publisher, Image Comics.

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