Promethea Unbound

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Alan Moore is one of those writers that blows my mind. Reasons? Well he always pushes the boundaries, messes with form and isn’t afraid to delve into areas usually not covered within the mainstream. Promethea, created by Moore, JH Williams III and Mick Gray, is by no means Moore’s most challenging work (I still haven’t read his most challenging work but I will) it is however one of his most philosophical. It deals with spirituality, literature, post-modernity, Eros, erotica, life, death, magic, tarot, Kaballah, Anima and Animus, a few superheroes, Crowley, Egyptian Gods and a large dollop of feminism thrown in for good measure. Moore asks the question: if God has created us and the world, can we then create endless gods and worlds too? Can the act of writing, indeed the act of imagining, create people and worlds that exist just as we exist? It is a metaphysical maze that winds and meanders its way into the consciousness and in effect calls out to the creative subconscious to re-imagine and re-member that dark landscape that is the human mind. You see sometimes a cigar is a phallus and the darkened cave is exactly what you think it is and then sometimes they aren’t!

Sophie Bangs

Sophie Bangs

These dark landscapes are brought to life by the artists. I believe that any great comic book must be built around the twin strands of writing and art and as much as Moore creates with his words he is equally matched by the art and inking of Williams and Gray. The artwork is sublime and words cannot do it true justice so, with that in mind I have left a few samples in the post to give you an idea of its breadth and scope.

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The scope of the art is echoed in the story. It is one that builds around the main character: Sophie Bangs, a college student writing a paper on the supposedly fictitious character of Promethea (a female version of Prometheus). Sophie soon finds out that by writing about Promethea she becomes the character and not only that but there have been others ( one, a woman called Barbara, who acts as a guide to Sophie). The book starts out in a conventional enough fashion and we think that Sophie will learn to become the eponymous superhero. However, it doesn’t pan out like that as Moore explores, in some style, all the themes I have mentioned above. Sophie visits the metaphysical plain called the Immateria and with Barbara, begins her journey on the Tree of Life. There are some classic characters introduced along the way such as Bill Woolcott, a gay comic book artist who was also an earlier version of Promethea. Jack Faust, the magician who makes love to Sophie and whilst doing so explains the female and male energies of the universe (and ensures you will never look at a magician’s wand tapping on a cup in the same way ever again). The Five Swell Guys (an homage to The Fantastic Four) are the superheroes of the city but they never seem to get anything right! Promethea isn’t your conventional comic, a criticism often levelled at the work is that it acts as a mouthpiece for Moore’s views but as the great man said ‘there are 1000 comic books on the shelves that don’t contain a philosophy lecture and one that does. Isn’t there room for that one?” I couldn’t have put it better myself.

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  1. Brilliant!
    Just brilliant!
    Brilliance has now come into existence once more.
    That is all…

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