Promethea, Book 1

Promethea, Book 1

By Alan Moore, J H Williams III & Mick Gray (America’s Best Comics)
ISBN: 1-4012-0032-X

I wonder if when Alan Moore first conceived this ‘Strong Female Character’ as part of his private superhero universe, he realised quite how far he would take this tale, or just how far he and collaborators J H Williams III and Mick Gray would push the boundaries of Graphic Narrative?

Ignoring the superficial resemblances to Wonder Woman – herself more archetype than property these days, but don’t tell the lawyers I said that – what is on offer in this series (issues 1-6 of which are collected in this first volume)?

Sophie Bangs lives in the big city, in a world of Science Heroes, multi-powered villains and real, scary monsters. She’s a smart kid, if not traditionally pretty, doing teen-age things with her best friend Stacia. She’s also researching a term paper on a name that has cropped up in esoteric poems, art and popular culture since the fifth century AD. She seems inexplicably fascinated by the concept of Promethea.

After interviewing the widow of the writer of a Promethea comic book she is attacked by a shadowy demon and rescued by the widow, who is the comic heroine. Promethea is a little girl who was taken into the Immateria, the Realm of Imagination, and became a concept. Throughout history, she has become real by incarnating in the women – usually – who inspire art and creativity. As the monster returns, Sophia finds her own artistic method of calling the Immateria and becomes the newest incarnation.

Thus begins a journey of metaphysical as well as metahuman adventure. Sophia fights monsters and meets heroes, but the never ending battle is not what this series is about. She wants to know more, and whilst various flamboyant forces array themselves against her, she is seeking deeper answers for questions she never knew she had.

Moore’s sly and subversive scripting, in a superhero universe pushed to its illogical extreme is superbly matched by artists Williams III and Gray, who increasingly raise the bar on graphic creativity and printing technology for a visual experience that is simply staggering to behold.

© 2003 America’s Best Comics, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

2 Replies to “Promethea, Book 1”

  1. I thought Promethea was an astonishing series. I know a lot of people gave up on it after a few issues, but sticking with it was ultimately so rewarding. Challenging and demanding, it’s hardly an easy read, and probably not one to offer a comics newbie, but for a seasoned hand on the lookout for something different, Promthea is difficult to beat.

    And that art… Ooh.

  2. That’s it exactly.

    If we want comics to be taken seriously as an art form, the industry has to provide this kind of quality in art, story and format that challenges and puts off as many people as it captivates. Just as we need the simple old-fashioned all-ages ‘belt and braces’ stuff.

    Like film or TV, we need lowbrow mainstream and avant-garde to inform each other.

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