Sunday, October 7, 2007


Alan Moore and JH Williams' comics series (along with inker Mick Gray, colorists Jeromy Cox and Jose Villarrubia, and letterer Todd Klein) began life as a pastiche of super-heroine comics, a la Wonder Woman, but it quickly grew into a meditation on the history and philosophy of magic.

The plot concerns college student Sophie Bangs who is researching a character called Promethea who shows up in a number of stories across a number of media throughout the late 19th and early 20th century. But Promethea doesn't just show up in stories, she also shows up in real life, giving aid and comfort to those in need. As a consequence of her research, Sophie actually becomes the latest incarnation of Promethea.

Book one and two concern themselves mostly with Sophie assuming her new role and learning the histories of the Prometheas who came before her. Books four and five focus on Promethea traveling up the Qabbalistic Tree of Life to the God-head. And in book five, we watch Promethea preside over the Apocalypse and what comes after it.

For me, Promethea works best when it acts as a magical primer. Moore can slip easily between scenes of action and instruction. Those few chapters that are purely plot or action driven feel the weakest to me.

Special attention has to be given to the art team of Williams, Gray, Cox and Villarrubia. Moore's scripts make so many demands of them and they are up to all of them. During the sequence where Promethea climbs the Tree of Life, each issue is drawn in a different art style; no mean feat for an art team.

Part of me, a small part, wishes it was this series, not League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, that was going to be continued by Top Shelf Publishing. But then, where else is there to go after the world ends?

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