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Prophet #29 (Image): Honestly, I have no idea what’s going on in the solicits for this book. I swear that I saw Simon Roy and Giannis Milonogiannis attached to this issue, and we get Farel Dalrymple instead, but you know what? Who the hell cares! At the end of the day, it’s always the same 4 or 5 guys producing this book in different combinations, jumping around, riffing and jamming from issue to issue, but they’re all amazing. Some I’ve been fans of for years; for example, I’ve followed Dalrymple since he was the NYC phenom who brought us Pop Gun War. Some are recently new finds; guys like Simon Roy or Milonogiannis were new to me, but I quickly investigated books like Jan’s Atomic Heart from the former, and Old City Blues from the latter. And guess what? They’re all fantastic! I’m going to keep saying that until you buy this book. This issue is a good example of the sheer dedication to storytelling the guys bring. Take a throw-away line about a “starship war,” that at the hands of another writer would be quickly dismissed, but here it becomes a luxurious two-page spread. In another two-page spread of the “farming marsh,” you can play an endless “Where’s Waldo?” type game consuming the expansive art. I loved the mental daze sequence where the art goes gray and white to mirror John’s foggy mind. Ultimately he puts together a “Dirty Dozen” style group, one that looks like Star Wars Bounty Hunters as designed by Philip K. Dick or some damn thing, to fight their Over Mind captor. Speaking of crazy-ass analogies, you know what the newest game on the interwebs is? It’s bloggers and critics and other hipster doofuses trying to summarize Prophet in a hook-y and clever one sentence sound byte, usually involving the terms “Conan” and “sci-fi” as inescapable components. So, here we go again, this is about the 5th time I’ve tried to do this: Prophet is like Conan as a European sci-fi comic portrayed as an epic poem like Beowulf for Generation X and The Millennials who followed. It’s utterly unpredictable, an utterly unique vision, and utterly engrossing. Prophet is surely one of the best books of 2012. Grade A.
Happy #1 (Image): Here’s the deal, Happy is better than approximately 87% of the books you’re going to find on the stands in any given week, yet something about it still really bothers me. It’s not the incomprehensible metaphysical reality exercise in symbology, continuity, and intertextuality that often sickens me with Grant Morrison’s writing. In fact, on the contrary, this is quite straightforward, with just a touch of the bizarre, yet there’s this sort of smug posturing that grates on me and tries to ingratiate its way into being liked. It’s the way it’s all sweary and vile in an inorganic in-your-face fashion, with a sort of glee best summarized as “haha look at me breaking all the rules, y'all! they say I sold out my counterculture roots to work for the man, but nu-uh girlfriend, I am sill the zany outsider Scotsman you know and love! woot!” I also didn’t like all the “ise” instead of “ize” crap. For example, “stabilised.” I realize (realise?) that Morrison is British and that’s just the way those dudes talk, but when you’re writing a book about Americans, speaking as Americans, for a predominantly American audience, it sticks out like a sore thumb. Sometimes it’s also a little rusty about who is doing what to whom and why, but that’s mostly cleared up by the end. Boy, this sure sounds like a bunch of backhanded qualified compliments. Sorry. Without caveat, Darick Robertson’s art has never looked better. It’s fantastic. And I do like the basic premise of this. In a world where everything is a con, everything is upside down, former cops are hitmen, current cops are corrupt, hospitals and doctors are run by the mob, everything is a trap, nothing is what it seems, everyone is on the take and in on the scam, and it’s all feels one step short of a movie like The Game, the main character has to re-evaluate his existence and position in life. With the help of a blue flying unicorn donkey, who may or may not be a figment of his imagination. So, there’s that. Grade B+.