"Eye of All!" - John Prophet
Last year I covered the reboot of one old Rob Liefeld property, the excellent twelve issue Glory series that took a one-dimensional Wonder Woman rip-off and with distictive art and good writing made her an interesting character in her own right and I was sorry she didn't end up getting an ongoing of her own. Proving it was possible to make lemonade out of the lemons that made up the rest of Liefeld's "Extreme" Studio's portfolio of characters, a total overhaul of the character Prophet was initiated giving us a hardcore pulp sci-fi series that has grown to encompass a whole bunch of Liefeld characters from members of Youngblood to guest spots from the likes of Supreme. The original Leifeld!Prophet had no interesting features apart from being a man out of time and having some Christian aspects to his misadventures. Somehow they managed to wring twenty issues out of this before grinding to a halt sometime in the late 90's. This reboot series does not pick-up where the early series left off, but does continue numbering-wise. It goes without saying that the art and writing is a thousand times superior to what went before and this whole volume is a fascinating introduction to an imaginative and alien future.
Summarising this volume has proved a little difficult. The whole thing is narrated in almost dreamlike narrative captions, that refer to places and things with only the art to provide more clues about them as well as references to beings and events that will only be more fleshed out in future volumes. There is barely any dialogue until the sixth issue. It does however do a good job in the first half of the book helping you feel for John Prophet, woken from cryogenic sleep, thrown into an transformed Earth motivated by forces beyond his control as he spends a month working his way towards a mysterious goal in the sky.
|Welcome to Earth.|
Narration: "Earth has changed since he last knew it. The old land is harsher now. Unforgiving. Even the animals he's known have changed."
He keeps heading east, coming across the debris of ancient, man made vehicles. He then comes across a "Oonaka meat farm". Something in his head tells him to go past it, to the Jell City where he will meet his contact.
That night he has a dream where a haggard Prophet says "It's starting again". And he wakes with a start thinking it felt more like an "intrusion". He is now at the Jell City a "smell based caste society". He is mostly ignored as he works his way down. The Jell City was formed from an alien organism that landed on Earth and rotted to allow the inhabitants a base to begin their fermentation from.
His dreams direct him to the bottom, there he finds another pod, which contains a "dolmantle" which lookes like a blue scarf but acts as a living suppport system. It replicates smells to allow him to move freely to his contact who turns out to be a female alien with a vagina head.
|I don't even want to think where he's gonna stick it.|
John Prophet: "The Earth Empire?"
Creature: "Crazy one. Fighting for a cause you don't remember".
She tells him that there is a G.O.D satellite in orbit, he must head east to the "Towers of Thauilu Vah to restart GOD". She then surgically removes an unused organ of his to aid in her reproduction and finish the deal, then Prophet heads quickly up the membrane to the top of Jell City.
After twelve days Prophet comes across another pod. It is burnt out and emptied of cargo which was a "Jump Pax" that he was going to use to cross the desert. He instead joins a "Taxa" caravan and works as a "shoveler" as it works it's way across the deadly wasteland. On the caravan is a Xuix-Guin Blade, a creature covered in trophy skulls of impressive prey and it looks at Prophet's skull with interest.
|Prophet works his passage.|
Later in the evening there is a ceremony to sacrifice the Caravan King and install a new one. Prophet misunderstands and tries to stop them, but realising his mistake he fights his way through the caravan. In it's bowels he faces the creature he upset before but kills it.
He remembers the man made power source at the top of the caravan so fights his way out of there and yanks the large battery out of it. This lowers the shields and allows large flying creatures to attack. In the confusion Prophet drops down out of the caravan.
Narration: "As adaptable as John Prophet to this new Earth he's found himself on. He still clings to the hope in what little remains of human ingenuity."
|Badass walking machine.|
Days later we find John Prophet riding a winged beast he subdued days earlier. It's been over three weeks since he first arrived on this new Earth and finally the Towers of Thauilu Vah are in sight. But before he can fly up there, creatures on the ground fire on him and disable his ride. His dolmantle forms a parachute, but that gets a hole shot through it. Before it can reform Prophet lands hard and his arm is wrenched off at the shoulder. His dolmantle covers the stump to stop him bleeding out.
Now at the bottom of the tower, voices in his head urge him upwards. The tower was orignally an interstellar communications array, and it still attracts aliens wanting to make use of its technology. One lot have perfected a warping device, Prophet jumps through a ring at the bottom of the tower and is teleported a good way up, before shutting the device down so he can't be followed.
|Towers of Thauilu Vah|
He fires a bolt at the hatch poking down out of the clouds and uses the wire attached to climb up and inside the G.O.D Satellite. Before he can go further inside though, he is attacked by the Xiux-Guin Blade. He slashes Prophet eye and starts to overpower him, then it is shot through the head by two soldiers, identical to Prophet, who take him inside the main nerve centre of the satellite.
Narration: "Ortheia, the G.O.D Satellite command centre. The rebirth of the Earth Empire. It's War Womb".
John Prophet is shown a machine to place his good hand on. As one of the Elite John Prophets, only he can activate the device. He does so and it sends out a signal across the vastness of space and awakens all the sleeping John Prophets across the galaxy.
Narration: "Thousands of John Prophets awake. The Earth Empire is born anew. In his head John hears far away laughter."
|Time to restart an Empire.|
Prophet sees a ghostly young girl who tells him to "save us". The ship crashed into another and fell onto the planet. His goal is to get across am impossibly huge wreck of the ship to where the being calling for him is waiting. The bad news?
Ghost Girl: "The enviroment is contaminated. You are already dying".
|Nice tail dude.|
He carries on, looking more haggard by the day. Then the being following him attacks, it is another Prophet, grotesquely deformed and although Prophet is weak he fights the disfigured Prophet off, though sustains an arm injury. The ghost leads him to a vat full of red goo and he lies in it, it rejuvenates him and forms a covering round him making him look a bit like a jelly baby. He floats outside and carries on across the surface of the wreck until the red goo gives out.
Now he is outside he is free from contamination and can survive properly on the meat out there. He finally reaches his goal, and we see the true for of his guide - "A star fallen mother of the Earth Empire".
It has a huge head, and helmet on, and a small, withered body. These are the beings who have been telepathically manipulating and instructing the John Prophets. "Return us to our sky" she says and this issue ends.
|An Earth Mother. Ew.|
We are transported to a rocky landscape and walking upon it is a robot-like creature, but it has organic needs like eating to repair itself. The Empire's signal woke him up, that is the signal that woke the first John Prophet not the signal he sent out. The creature is called Jaxson and he fought alongside "old man Prophet". He says of the signal:
Jaxson: "You can hear every signal that comes down the cyclops rail on this world. That cold drone that makes unguarded minds jump to serve it. This is what John was worried about".
They then fly up above the planet to a ring that circles the planet, infested with giant worms. There are also several rings hanging in space, they form part of a travel network that can send objects across "billions of light years." Xefferson goes through first, then Jaxson. When Jaxson arrives he finds Xefferson isn't there. He hopes he just overshot or got there early.
Jackson jumps onto a floating rock in space that I think might be Youngblood's Badrock grown to huge size, trying to become a planet. He is called Brainrock here though so it might just be a similar being. Jaxson uses Brainrock to send a signal through the universe - "John.. It's starting again". Which is of course what the Prophet in the first three issues heard one night. Jaxson then contemplates the stars and says to himself:
Jaxson: "Between my fingers I see where John'll show up eventually. I'll be there to meet him".
What this chapter does is set up the notion that there is opposition to the Earth Empire, and that in the past a war was fought with them, with "Old John Prophet" fighting alongside Jaxson. It's now only a matter of time before Old John Prophet shows up...
|Jaxson travels to "Brainrock".|
They are searching the world for a specific "nephilim", giant creatures who reproduce and feed off each other constantly. They come across a dead "pinwheel" warrior, and before they can get away, some live ones attack, mortally wounding Brother John Tektite. The Empire ship blasts the shit out of the pinwheel warriors, but Tektite dies and they burn his body rather than consume him like the ghost girl suggests.
|The Johns dispose of the fallen.|
Narration: "It is too quick a death for one who has lived so long."
The Prophets hook the dead nephilim up to the womb ship and get ready to return to the ship. Suddenly a bearded, wildman bursts up out of the ground and slaughters the two Prophets in quick succession. Then he climbs the wires up to the ship, resisting the intolerable pressure on his mind from the Empire Mother. He rips off her helmet and puts it on, thus allowing him freedom from their telepathy and we are finally introduced to the main protagonist.
Narration: "He's fully awake now. The one man the Earth Empire fears. He knows them. Once he was their hero. Before he learned of the depths of their cruelty. The Friend Of The Scale. The Unkillable Knife. The Wave Crester. The Spiral Jumper. The Lord Of The Wolf-Raget Star. The Old Man, great grandfather Jonathan Prophet has awoken. It has started again".
|Old Man Prophet shows the nasty Empire Mother who's boss.|
Special Bonus Thing!
If you're wondering about Liefled!Prophet well here is the write up he gave when the series started. Bloody awful innit. And following that a drawing by Liefeld of him, which is also bloody awful. Enjoy!
Blech. Also, just to show he hasn't improved in the intervening years, heres a varient cover he drew for one of the first issues in this volume.
Just horrible. Oh Leifeld, why u so shit?