Imagine a strange, futuristic version of our world. Instead of Hello Kitty, the most popular figure for t-shirts and billboards is a weeping gorilla, the mayor of New York has multiple personalities, and a group of superheroes known as the Five Swell Guys serve as a protective back up to the city’s police forces. Amidst all of this is Sophie Bangs a college student that just wants to finish her term paper on the literary figure Promethea. But isn’t that always how these things begin?
Promethea is intense, cracked out, and awesome all at the same time. Created by the fabulous and more than mildly eccentric Alan Moore, this is the story of how Sophie goes from researching Promethea to being another in a long line of individuals that have become her.
Picture something that vibes a little similar to The Invisibles only with even more mysticism, philosophy, feminism, kabbalah, tarot, reincarnation and significantly less appearances of the Marquis de Sade. Volume 1 follows Sophie as she discovers Promethea’s existence, deals with the inevitable attacks upon her person, and attempts to get used to slipping in and out of the human universe and into a realm known as the Immateria.
You might think this sounds a bit like every hero-journey you’ve read already, but it isn’t. Trust me. I’m not even sure how to explain the multiple layers of symbolism, magic, art, religion, philosophy, and plain old wackiness packed into this comic, not to mention the larger story to come. The plot is held together loosely at best, but the incredible art and overall richness to the story carries you through it.
Promethea the comic is beautiful to look at. The artwork is filled with references to art and history from around the world, each page is filled with detail-packed images, and the page and panel layouts are creative and inventive. Reminiscent of comics like The Adventures of Little Nemo, the artists manage to strike a perfect balance between simple fun, richness of detail, and plain old good drawing to keep your eyes interested. Volume 1 doesn’t push the adult content barriers much, but there is some nudity and sexual content to come. For the most part it’s moderately artistic and somewhat restrained, but those of a younger age range should consider themselves warned.
Promethea: Volume 1
by Alan Moore
America’s Best Comics, 1999