Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!
Today we look at the first major story arc in Alan Moore and J.H. Williams’ Promethea.
One of the annoying aspects of Promethea is that the initial story arc is eight issues long. Why is that annoying? The first volume of the collected edition of Promethea collects the first…six issues. Isn’t that a pain in the neck?
Anyhow, the first eight issues of Promethea are a lot different from most of the issues that follow, as the initial storyline was more about literature while the rest of the series was more about Alan Moore’s fascination with mysticism (particularly the Kaballah).
While the later issues were surely interesting, I always have a soft spot for the initial arc, where Moore introduced the concept of Promethea as well as all of the various Prometheas.
Promethea is basically a living story – when someone writes about her with passion, she comes to life – either merging with the artist/writer his/herself or merging with the artist/writer’s inspiration/muse.
We first meet her as a child in the past, over a thousand years ago, where her father is being hounded for worshiping the wrong gods..
We see his daughter saved…
Fast forward to the present, and Sophie Bangs is researching this literary figure Promethea who keeps popping up in various media. She she meets the widow of the last person to write about Promethea, a man who did a comic book featuring Promethea. She does not want to speak to Sophie. Well, on the way back home, Sophie is attacked by some creepy demon-y bad guys. She is then rescued by Promethea! Well, a version of Promethea, at least – an older, out of shape version. This Promethea saves Sophie, but is gravely injured in the process. She takes Sophie to hiding, but they’re pretty much screwed when the demons come back, unless…..
And then, a brilliant callback to Promethea’s origin…
As you can see, Moore was joined by one of the most brilliant artists working in comics today, J.H. Williams, who packs so much detail and meaning into each page that it’s just a beautiful sight to see.
Over the next issues, Sophie learns about all the previous Prometheas as well as the extent of her powers.
One of the most amazing parts of the storyline is when Sophie travels to “Misty Magic Land,” the land of the imagination, where ideas exist without any sort of ironic detachment or the distance that comes from age – so when a big bad wolf shows up, it’s, well, a big bad wolf! And when ironic humor is used – the irony is not present, so you feel the statements as though they are true.
Throughout the first arc, Moore worked in a number of interesting literary ideas such as this. Heck, the other Prometheas themselves are products of various interesting looks at different media (one comes from faerie poetry, one comes from early 20th Century comic strips, one comes from the graphic paintings of pulp novels and two of them come from comic books).
While you “have” to pick up two volumes of Promethea to get the first story arc, it is well worth the purchase (especially as Volume 2 has plenty of cool follow-up stories, including an All-Sex Issue!).
I hope the sample pages alone should give you an idea that this is a comic that is well worth a read, if only to marvel at Williams’ beautiful artwork!