Clones In Space

    

Prophet Volume 1: Remission by Brandon Graham, Simon Roy, Farel Dalrymple, Giannis Milonogiannis, Marian Churchland, Emma Rios. Image, 2012. 9781607066118. Contains Prophet #21 – 26.

Prophet Volume 2: Brothers by Brandon Graham, Simon Roy, Farel Dalrymple, Giannis Milonogiannis, Fil Barlow, Helen Maier, Boo Cook. Image, 2013. 9781607067498. Contains Prophet #27 – #31.

Prophet Volume 3: Empire by Brandon Graham, Simon Roy, Giannis Milonogiannis, Malachi Ward, Matt Sheean, Zarchary Baldus, Aaron Conley, Fil Barlow, Jim Rugg, Bayard Baudoin. Image, 2014. 9781607068587. Contains Prophet #32, #34 – #38.

Prophet Volume 4: Joining by Brandon Graham, Simon Roy, Ron Wimberly, Giannis Milonogiannis, Dave Taylor, Ron Wimberly, Matt Sheehan, Malachi Ward, Farel Dalrmple, Bayard Baudoin, Joseph Bergin III, James Stokoe, Aaron Conley, Lando, Grim Wilkins, Sandra Lanz, Onta, Ron Ackins, Tom Parkinson-Morgan, Gael Bertrand, Rob Liefield, Addison Duke, Ludroe, Xurxo G Penalta, Amy Claire. Image, 2015. 9781632152541. Contains Prophet #39 – #45 & Prophet: Strikefile #1 – #2.

Prophet Volume 5: Earth War by Brandon Graham, Simon Roy, Giannis Milonogiannis, Ron Ackins, Grim Wilkins, Sandra Lanz. Image, 2017. 9781632158369. Contains Prophet Earth War #1 – #6.

This is a 5-part graphic novel science fiction epic that doesn’t stop to explain its strangeness (much). This series was part of a relaunch / reimagining of comics characters created by Rob Leifeld in the 1990s, but that’s largely irrelevant to this series. There are some appearances by characters from his other books. If you were a comics geek back then like I was, when collectors bought as many copies of every first issue as we could afford, your knowledge may enrich the experience (if you read the books instead of just sealing them in your bunker), but it’s not really necessary. Graham and Roy and the other artists create a richly weird world that is complete in itself and really worth visiting.

10,000 years in the future, the remnants of the Earth Empire stir. Clones of the superhero John Prophet awake in creches across the stars, and on a much changed Earth. They are adapted to their environments and purposes, and sometimes unrecognizable as part of the same genetic line: warriors (tailed and not), brutes, giants, pleasure models, and more. Rising from his own hibernation to once again stop the Empire is Great Grandfather John Prophet, a cloned warrior who once found freedom and love only to have it snatched away from him. This John goes in search of his allies: a robot, a cyborg, and a vegetable being that he calls friends. And then they race to stop a fallen brain mother of the Empire (think a psychic old woman with a giant brain and atrophied body) intent on spreading both her control and her brand of red misery across the stars once more. It all comes down to a forgotten satellite circling a much changed Earth, and a fight over whether our universe should continue or not.

This future is full of technology that would weird out David Cronenberg: organic starships and environmental suits; ambulatory, intelligent plants; ancient robots and other rotting military tech; human meat farms, gods the size of dwarf planets, hints at vast solar system-wide ecosystems, crystal beings, hives, and jellies that can do almost anything. But the best weapon is one that’s reliable, the knife / cleaver that the Prophet clones favor.

The art is simply fantastic. Different artists tell different characters’ stories, adding their own strange twists but making the clone narratives easy to follow. And the end of each book features a visual “script” by Graham, done in thumbnails with notes for dialogue / words — a fascinating look into a comics writing process completely unlike mine. Of the characters, my favorite is probably Grandfather Prophet’s friend Diehard. Its story starts as its pieces are gathered from across the stars (they call out to each other, and provide a reason for the other characters to tour this weird cosmos). It was once a cyborg, but is now a machine trying to regain a bit of its lost humanity by re-installing organs (including a heart) in itself. There’s a chapter in the middle that is mostly flashbacks to Diehard’s 10,000+ year life, which includes when he had a family, it’s beautifully done.

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