This chapter of Prophet swings attention back to our introductory character in the series, now established as New-Father John Prophet, the first prophet of the new age of man, who has assisted in awakening his cloned brothers. It has been 11 months since the call for awakening went out, and New-Father has returned to receive council with other members of the Empire as trouble is brewing with an outside threat that may or may not have something to do with the adventure of Old-Man Prophet last issue.
Graham and Roy continue, with other series collaborators, to unthread a complicated skein with this universe. The clones have been slowly revealed to be apart of a horrific fighting force that shows signs of colonialism—namely to conquer and with little regard to how it is accomplished all in the name of the Empire. The clones are apart of a vast system and are designed in numerous ways to adapt to whatever place they can be shipped off to or find themselves in. I find it interesting that the clones also represent a social hierarchical system, with representations of stereotypes and narrative archetypes to fill certain needs. For example, New-Father John Prophet functions as a leader. He is of medium build but carries presence, intelligence, cunning, and the ability to survive combat. This is in stark contrast to the brutish, over sized Aggressive Magnus, Brother Big John, who is in a way the psychoanalytical ID of New-Father, the clone who will let emotion rather than reason drive choices.
The design of the home world, as much of the design of Prophet, looks to be based on organic matter. Everything lives and breathes, even the spaces or the ships that characters occupy are organic living structures. I cannot help but wonder if the Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg has had a significant influence on Graham & Co, as a large amount of his work has focused upon the relationship between ourselves and are internal organic structures, notably in a funky little movie called Existenz, in which how we plug ourselves into things is explored. One small example of the living organism idea can be found on page eight, where the home base is described and rendered as “The central domus. Engineered from the same genome as the prophets who live and work inside it. Its core artery hall filled with brothers [clones] from across the universe…” Everything feeds upon itself, life meaning nothing from an individual stand point but rather as apart of a collective, or perhaps the illusion of a collective as I mentioned earlier there is a genetic hierarchical ladder of some sorts. I find myself in reading Prophet wondering about will the goal ultimately be the triumph of the individual over the systemic? Or is the Empire really some type of force for good? These marvelous questions are but a few that, in my opinion, keep the series propelling forward along with art work that pushes the limits of the fantastical in the best ways.
And what about the back-up story? I was very excited to see that Expansion creators Matt Sheean and Malachi Ward (whom I have written about in a “Time and…” column for Capeless), have been tapped to tell a tale in this universe. This first part of a story called “Care” drops us in on a Lottery-esque ritual, in which the creatures of a planet must be appeased with a sacrifice. The idea of mysticism and technology , the old and the new, is intriguing because how could a society with such advancements still believe in such non-tangible things? This is the beauty of fantasy writing, that technology never necessarily equals an assumed superior mindset. Superstition can still reign, and in the universe of Prophet, gods, demons, creatures, and the unknown are all still on the table to be explored. It is the unknown that we all fear in the end, and I hope Sheean and Ward’s small story expands on that fear as it is revealed.