4.18.12 Reviews (Indie Comics Forever Edition)
Prophet #24 (Image): American Indie Comics Creators Reappropriating & Recontextualizing With European Sci-Fi Flair. If that little outburst turns you on, then you should be buying this book. Period. It’s like, I don’t know, a sci-fi rendition of Conan done by Jodorowsky or Tarsem. Yeah, that’s probably the closest I can some using Earth language. Farel Dalrymple jumps on this short arc, most readers of this site will know him from his work on titles like Pop Gun War and Omega: The Unknown. His art has never looked better, those instantly recognizable refined stylistics of his line infused with Brandon Graham’s playful camera angles and singularly original thoughts. So, John Prophet wakes from some type of suspended animation on a spaceship containing “the pod row of an Earth Empire pro-embryo” which itself has crashed into massive city/capital ship L’Horizon in low orbit over a fabricated planet. Didja get all that? See, there are more inventive ideas at play here in a few stray lines than most books get around to sharing during their entire run. This ain’t Star Trek, with its gleaming utopian future; it’s a bleak and vile place, completely foreign to human sensibilities. Prophet is a unique vision from powerful creative forces, showcasing the limitless potential in the medium still largely untapped by the vast majority of creators. Comics like this make me excited about comics. That’s the best praise I can bestow. It’s beyond liking it, beyond poring over every panel, and beyond recommending it to buy. It makes me still want to do this. The art snob in me will tell you that the reappropriation and recontextualization of found imagery in order to derive new meaning from that juxtaposition is basically the definition of contemporary art. So, this is no longer just great comics, it’s now impregnated the elusive elitist realm of Fine Art. And you can trust me on that, I work in one of the top 5 contemporary art museums in the country. Grade A+.
The Manhattan Projects #2 (Image): I’ll say up front that I think Hickman is probably the most successful post-Warren Ellis sci-fi writer, because of the way he can bounce between more intense indie projects and the application of some of those manic high concepts to the mainstream properties. Fraction probably comes a close second, but is a lot more inconsistent with the mainstream stuff (his early Iron Man work not withstanding that generalization). Anyway, the only real problem I have with this issue is that it feels like a very rough jump-cut from the first issue. It’s like the POV character and raison d’etre has now shifted. We began with a first issue that was concerned with the split “personality” of Oppenheimer, and now we shift more to Richard Feynman and the larger recruitment drive of German scientists to the US Manhattan Projects. It’s a hard throughline to connect. If you can get over that issue-to-issue stumble, I certainly enjoy the subversive revisionist history going on, featuring everyone from FDR to Einstein to Hitler, Fermi, and the real prize – Werner Von Braun. At its heart, the book seems to be fascinated with the old idea of examining preoccupation with if something can be done, not if it should be done. Apparently, in this alternate history, the German propulsion tech advances at such an accelerated pace that we take a quantum leap past the moon landing and have an exploratory “Forever-Class Frigate” breaching the edge of the solar system. That said, it seems like this should really take off next issue. On the art side, Pitarra’s work feels less rushed here, more controlled, and doesn’t have the wild details straining out of place like I felt the first issue did. There are times when it looks like some of the background characters just walked off the set of BPRD or Joe Casey and Tom Scioli’s Godland, but for the most part it’s a visual treat. Grade A-.