Oliver Davis reviews Prophet #39…
Die-Hard, a cyborg trying to regain his humanity, looks back over the thousands of years since his birth.
“DIEHARD” reads the front cover of Prophet #39. No, not a new titling convention for the John McClane franchise. It’s the name of a 10,241 year old robot.
Issue 38 ended on the Prophets finding the Children of Badrock, their new weapon to fight the Empire. Rather than continue sequentially, however, Brandon Graham instead tells the story of Diehard.
The narrative jumps in bounds. There are 10,241 years to cover, after all. The earliest memory is age 10, staring at the trunk of an enormous tree, the entire panel bathed in an orange sunset. Then a flash montage of five images. Reading a book. A horse’s head. A remote mountain. A bloodied dagger and corpse. An occupied hospital bed. It’s as though their single frames in a movie reel. Then age 31. Age 137. Age 877. And so on.
The story keeps leaping forward like a dying mind hurriedly composing its last, grand flashback. It shows the process of Diehard becoming a superhero, eventually replacing his entire body with technology. He travels many worlds. He raises multiple families, and outlives them. He fights numerous wars. Like all of Prophet, it ain’t easy to follow. But the consistent tone and mood appeals to something deeper, something a tad trickier to understand.
At first glance, it’s a stand-alone issue. A story outside of the main narrative. But Diehard’s once close friend, a giant boulder of a creature, is the same Badrock of which the central Prophets speak. Where Diehard became a fighter, Badrock embraced peace and sought to end wars. It is his children who will be used to defeat the Empire. How, we do not yet know.
The art is magnificently consistent, considering the issue is the product of ten different artists, each drawing the different eras of Diehard’s long life. Sometimes the inking appears more defined, or the colours bolder, but the look of Prophet is most definitely there throughout.
There are few comics more mature, more visually inventive out there right now. Prophet is on an alarmingly good run. Incredible.