Thursday, 27 August 2015

Prophet Book 2: Brothers (#27-31, #33)

"It's all been going on without us" - Hiyonhoiagn

So here we have the second volume in the reboot of Rob Liefeld's Prophet character where the current writer and artists have mined diamonds out of the unappealing mulch of his Extreme comics stable (although I realise I am still keeping Liefeld in diamond encrusted gold baseball caps by buying his studio's comics, so perhaps I am history's greatest monster, not him?).  The first book pulled an interesting bait-and-switch by following John Prophet as he is awakened from cryogenic sleep and sets off across an earth changed by hundreds of years of alien colonisation to reawaken the millions of cloned John Prophets seeded across the defunct Earth Empire.  It turns out that this John Prophet is not the main protagonist as the Earth Empire, which controls the cloned John Prophets via giant-brained "Empire Brain Mothers" are in fact the bad guys of this series.  The heroic John Prophet, a wild bearded old man who is able to resist the Empire Mother's telepathy via a special helmet and his own strong will only put in an appearence at the end of the first book.  Now this volume follows him as he begins to put together his resistance band against the awakened Empire, having defeated them in the past, in a marvellously imaginative pulp sci-fi storyline.  You might be wondering why the numbering of the issues is so high, that's because the series picked up at issue #21 (long after the first twenty of Liefeld version fell into disuse), but no knowledge of what came prior to that is needed.  Also two issues have been swapped to make the trade paperbacks flow a little better. Hence the missing issue #32 here, will actually be covered in volume three.

Old Man John Prophet sits and remembers his war brothers and his lover Yiala (a reptile woman), while sitting on the back of a giant space worm as it wends it's way through space. He survives the months aboard by eating food caught in it's "digestive web".  He reaches his destination, the "Pod Reefs" and jumps off and into cool water, where he catches something to eat later. Then he begins his search amongst the tree-like roots that make up the pods.

"For a moment he feels older than the ancient Kinniaa whose body he climbs".

He reaches some other aliens living on the pod.  He asks for "Brother Hiyonhoiagn", a small four leggged root like creature from his previous memories.  He is attacked, but it is short lived, a root detaches itself from it's main part and it shows him through the wooden halls, the world "made out of the bodies of their forebears."  Through his protective crown he can hear their minds dreaming.
Friends reunited.
Finally he reaches Hiyonhoiagn, he reaches out with his mind and they touch. Hiyonhoiagn detaches himself from the wall and greets him:

Hiyonhoiagn: "It's you John.  Unchanged by all these seasons."

John asks him what became of their brothers, Hiyonhoiagn says they are "long dead" but his own "roots grow with yours."

They travel deep into the pod and Hiyanhoiogn hands him his sword, but it is broken after so many years of disuse.  He also hands him the cyborg Diehard's arm, and by using this they can locate the rest of him.  Diehard is another Liefeld creation, first as a member of the superteam Youngblood, later Alan Moore gave him some history by making him a member of his pastiche of the JLA in the pages of his run on Supreme.

They walk out to a ship graveyard to find something to travel in.  They are attacked again and the root that first greeted John is killed.  John saves Hiyonhoiagn and takes him on his back, he jumps towards an abandoned Empire "Sanctury Starship" and unlocks the hatch by hurling his Empire Knife (that he picked after killing the Prophets in Book One) and it opens just in time.
Blast off inside a worm.
The ship is swallowed by a giant space worm, but John jump starts the engines and it goes to warp inside the worm, ripping it in half.  John is now properly mobile and it is time to unite Diehard and look for aid in their battle against the Empire.

Some time later, their ship travels through space and John listens with his unguarded mind. Reaching out he feels the millions of John Prophets:

"Tied to the cruel whims of their Empire Brain Mothers.  On a thousand alien worlds, the Empire breathes".

He puts his crown back on and goes through the ship.  They have accrued a store of alien food and drink over the past weeks.  He also feels Hiyonhoiagn's pain.  The root that was killed helping them was his child.  He burns himself with firewater to forget. 
John and Hiyonhoiagn chill out for a while.
They sit together and contemplate how much of Diehard they have collected.  They are only missing his head and extra "warbody" now.  They land on a planet where his head is located as they leave the ship it is through a film of "shipskin".

Narration: "It coats them in a micro-thin layer to bind them to the ship and protect against foreign bodies."

The insect inhabitants are speaking the Empire language and wear the mind controlling blue "dolmantles" of the Empire.  They meet with their leader, a Qid-Pid, who says they have the head but a "trade must be made."

Diehard shows them to his head and they reunite just as Hiyonhoiagn is attacked by a dolmantle.  Diehard releases the crystal energy in his body that hits everything "not grounded".  It kills the dolmantles, and Qid-Pid pathetically drapes it's dead one over his shoulders.

Narration: "Old Man Prophet stares at the creature.  So frightened of it's own free will.  He would sooner die than be like that.... again."
Diehard almost completed.
They hurry back to the shop and pilot it to where Diehard's warbody is.  It is under dolmantle control and maintaining the cage of an "egg" - a weapon of mass destruction.  Diehard uses the combustible firewater to burn the dolmantle off his warbody and takes it back to the ship, while the egg rumbles into wakefulness...

The action then cuts to a chapter about the Prophet with a tail, who was introduced in book one.  He is fully under Empire control and part of a squadron of Prophets escorting an Enmpire Brain Mother through space, clad in pink, protective flying suits.  They find themselves travelling through:

Narration: "A 300-year war, raging between hundreds of different species.  Born into this and dying in this.  Entire lives spent knowing only this gargantuan ship war."

As they fly through, Prophet's suit is punctured and he falls into a star barge where slaves harvest food under the suffocating control of the Over-mind.  Prophet awakens to that control, but the control of the Empire Brain Mother is stronger.
The call of the Brain Mother.
He saves a small alien from being attacked by the slave drivers and the alien takes him to a small band of rebels, one of whom is a mushroom creature who blows spores in Prophet's face which frees him from all mind control.  It says it recognises Prophet from long ago where he saved their people, though the flashback seems to imply it was Old Man Prophet who did it, not this one with a tail. 

Whichever Prophet is was doesn't matter now, his arrival has goaded them into action.  he meets his fellow free minded individuals, a motley band.  And they start to plan.  They go back to slave work while they make ready and slip the anti-mind control spores into the "omni milk" all the workers drink for sustenance to weaken the Over-mind's control.

Finally they spring into action, a huge fight between the freed slaves and slavers ensues as Prophet and his band fight their way to the bridge.  They arrive there, though not without losses and Prophet slays the Over-mind with one blow.  The psychic backlash kills everyone but the rebels on the bridge.
Death of the Over-mind
Narration: "The Earth Empire Mother calls to John, but through the mind freedom of the spores, her words no longer hold him.  Outside the ship, the war continues."

Now we are introduced to a female reptile-person.  An assassin called Rein-East, destined to become one of John's crew.  She is preparing a hit on the leader of a rival clan - The Jinnah.  After making her way into the stronghold she comes to Jinnah-Guttum.  Who is hung and wrapped up to sustain his youth-life.  One of his aunts arranged his death at Rein-East's hands, "small revenge for what they did to her clan."  She kills him with one clean strike, then lashes out again in anger and cuts his head off.  Then the "Bothria" appear and capture her.

Back with the starship Insula Tergum, Diehard is working on his body.  He tries to recreate his once human face, but scratches it out in frustration.  Hiyonhoiagn has rooted into the ship which is sentient and tells him stories of all the wonders it has seen.  John meanwhile is practicing cutting drips in half with his blade to keep his combat skills sharp.
Prophet and Yiala in the past.
Finally they arrive at the "Scale" homeworld. John remembers his time there, how he fell in love with a storyteller called Yiala.  Soon his feelings for her "outweighed any mission."  They went to live in the "tower garden of history" and "this life with her was the best he had ever known."  But the Empire attacked the Scale and he chose to fight them again with Yiala by his side.  Back in the present:

"Centuries ago now  He still reaches for the Yiala's scale he'd worn round his neck.  Gone now."

He and Diehard travel down to the planet and are greeted by the new ruling clan, the Jinnah.  They pass Rein-East, imprisoned in a bubble that will eventually consume her.  John starts to give his warning about the resurgance of the Empire, but then a four-armed man appears with Empire markings and accuses him of being a traitor to the Empire.  They are betrayed by the Scale.

They are surrounded, Rein-East calls to John to free her so she can help fight.  John throws an explosive which bursts the bubble and she joins them.  In the melee, John cuts one of the four-armed man's arms off.  Then Jaxson, the roboty thing from book one who was searching for John arrives on the scene of battle.  His mind touches theirs and he blasts his way through the Empire ship, crippling it and giving the others time to escape back to the Insula Tergum.
The gang's all here.
The ship travels towards the floating dead body of the titanic Ixpolinix, so huge he's been colonised by aliens opposed to the Empire who mine his corpse for the resources of blood, meat and bone.  Curled up amidst the floating remains is a being that is related to another member of Youngblood - Badrock.  John and the others are stopping there for supplies before they go to meet the woman army, the "Babel-Horologian".

Jaxson, Rein-East and Diehard go into the colony to trade. John keeps his distance from Rein-East "she reminds him too much of the life he lost."  As he wanders the ship, a mysterious voice calls his name. 
He follows it's summons out onto the planet and, with Diehard shadowing him, comes across a strange fourlegged being with a mask on.  Prophet calls him "Troll", yet another ex-Youngblood member.  Troll says he's been watching him, and warns him:

Troll: "Now, if you can survive today before Empire destroys the ground you stand on, then we'll need to find Badrock."

Then he vanishes.  Before they go back to the ship, John and Diehard spot an Empire pod nearby.  They mentally call for Jaxson, who rushes to their side, telling Rein-East to take the supplies back to the ship. 

John has tracked the trail of the Prophet from the pod and has found a patch of earth freshly dug and filled to prevent being followed.  Diehard and Jaxson dig down and find an Empire Prophet there armed with a bomb powerful enough that it would have blown Ixpolinox to pieces.  Diehard kills the Prophet's brain but not the body so he can safely remove the bomb, and Jaxson takes it into space where it explodes harmlessly.
Diehard deals with the exploding Prophet.
All stocked up, they carry on to meet the women army.  In his quarters on the ship, Diehard works with the parts from the slain Prophet:

Narration: "For the first time in thousands of years, a human heart beats within his chest."

While they travel, Rein-East and Jaxson play a game as Hiyanhoiagn spectates.  Then they arrive at the ruins that were once "one of the bright centres of the universe".  A giant tadpole creature accidentally phases through the ship and gets stuck.  Rein-East makes to kill it, but John stops her and calms it telepathically allowing it to disengage without further harm.

They fly their ship into a huge ship of the Babel-Horolegion and are met by a female being called Dion Neien.  She splits herself into two, so Rein-East and Diehard can visit The Lady Probable's body and John and Jaxson can go to her centre.
Supreme, now only a power source.
Dion takes Rein-East and Diehard down to the Lady's core and one of her "power keys" which turns out to be energy generated by the being known as "Supreme".  Supreme was Rob Liefeld's rip-off of Superman who enjoyed his most well thought of run under the pen of Alan Moore.  Diehard remembers his civilian name, "Ethan Crane".

Meanwhile Jaxson and John travel further into the Lady Probable's core.  She speaks to them directly, she tells them they battles one of the Empire's "flesh forms" and captured a piece of it.  It has remained dormant until now, and it is crying "they come!"  Prophet wonders if this is related to Troll's warning that something worse than the Empire is out there...

Then the sister ships are attacked.  John and the others hurry back to the Insula Tergum and blast off out of the main ship which is blasted to pieces causing a huge shockwave that causes the Insula Tergum to crash on the nearby planet.

Narration: "The old man can still feel the psychic wave of pain... in the face of that pain he can do nothing.  He feels the slaughter of the Babel-Horolegion continue."
The Insula Tergum takes a hit.
And that brings the second volume of the Prophet reboot to a close.  Once again I have to praise the imaginative world building, the fascinating reimaginings of once lame characters and the enjoyable team of characters assembled by John to begin taking on the mght of the Empire, plus the hints that there might be something even more troublesome than the Empire out there.  The artwork helps give the alien worlds and their inhabitants atmosphere and the lightly sketched histories give them depth as well. It mixes sweetly inimate scenes of the team bonding with epic ones of space combat easily. Also the choice to mediate much of the story via third person captions helps give the story an "alienated" feel that comes over as quite fresh and really works for the tale being told.  We also get our first glimpse of Old Man Prophet's past and the sadness he carries around with him gives him even more gravitas. Basically this is another slice of superb pulp science fiction storytelling and if that's a genre you're at all interested in, then you need to check this series out pronto.

Obligatory Rob Liefeld Mockery Corner....

If you're curious as to what all these characters looked like originally here are some images to fill you in:

Diehard looks pretty similar to his original form as seen here.

Looks quite different, also this isn't actually a Liefeld drawing but has all the Leifeldian aspects to it.  Ugh, it's pretty embarrassing.
This is a relatively recent Liefeld drawing, see how much he's learned in over 20 years of being a professional comic book artist.

So far all we've seen of Badrock are his relatives, the curled up space giants.  When he was in Youngblood he was a kid who was still growing.  The reboot series seems to be saying he grew to small planet size.


  1. this looks abit too weird for me, but i like the look of the characters :) that Leifled art though, lol!

  2. Ladies, gentlemen, I come not to praise Rob Liefeld but to bury him. Still, twenty years down the line we finally got good comics based on his rip-off characters, so hooray!

  3. You're not history's greatest monster. You're not even in the top ten.

    Buying diamond-encrusted gold baseball caps sounds like exactly the sort of tasteless thing Mr Liefeld would do.

    The Brain Mother looks rather sweet and innocent. Great artwork too. Reminds me of Chris Riddell.

    That 'original' troll looks like some kind of horrible kinky sex worker... Eww.

  4. Thanks Lucy, you always reassure me :D

    I actually have a TPB of a series when DC went insane in 2012 and gave him control of three of their Nu52 series as writer and one as artist and writer. I'm trying to write it up, but it keeps devolving into wails of anguish.

    The artwork is great isn't it? I always champion artists whose style or combined styles I can recognise by eye.

    I post the original versions of the characters basically for comedy purposes, but yeah original Troll is somewhat icky, I agree.

  5. Rob Liefeld's Nu52... you should wait until you're in a good mood and then just mercilessly take the mickey out of it.

  6. I'm writing it a bit at a time and I'll probably post it up in January now. The writing is bad, but the art is just offensive. At least his old stuff had more comedy value, his recent stuff makes me wring my hands and wail "WHHHHHHYYYYY???"

  7. Imagine if you wrung your hands at Rob Liefeld so much you got repetitive strain injury O_O

  8. It's getting close to that! Grounds to sue I feel :P

  9. When he sends you an enormous sum of money as compensation, can you write me a cheque?

  10. Having exposed you to his art, I feel that would be the responsible thing to do.