Oliver Davis reviews Prophet #40…
Old man Prophet goes looking for ancient heroes in the hopes of tracking down the missing Badrock.
The front cover of Prophet #40, included to the right for your viewing pleasure, has some half-constructed Death Star in the background, a giant lizard with grave-like protrusions from its back in the fore. Prophet John descends from the sky in attack, with a blade in his hand and mucus cape grabbing at his back.
I wish I knew what it all meant.
Despite having read this issue twice, it’s still rather indecipherable. There’s the basic narrative, of Prophet’s protagonists searching for Badrock to help them defeat the Empire, but it seems to be operating on many other planes. It doesn’t help that every other word is strange – Insula Tergum, Hiyonhoiagn, Bow-Ex – or that everyone is called John. It’s all very confusing.
The three chapters that comprise the issue (Unus, Duo and Tres) are the only signposts guiding you through. The previous issue was also episodically structured, but not nearly as bewildering. #39 chronicled the android Badrock’s life through millennia, jumping from age 31, to age 137, to age 877. It acted as separate to the main narrative, almost as a supplementary issue, and therefore wasn’t as burdened by the overarching story. Perhaps that’s why it was such a lovely read.
But despite its complexity (and probably because of it), Prophet remains dazzlingly absorbing. Few other comics have such unabashed storytelling ambition in both writing and art. Plot points are rarely explained, and the narrative follows no easy routes.
There’s something rather exciting about reading something that’s a bit above your comprehension, like a teenager reading Aleister Crowley, or Joey Essex reading Letterland. You can almost feel your brain’s neurons forging new connections to each other as it struggles to understand why, exactly, that planet is uncurling like a yawning human waking from bed.
Baffling, beautiful and brilliant.