In Alan Moore’s Promethea, college student Sophie Bangs discovers that the subject of her essay, Promethea, is much more real than she expected. Promethea is a living story, one who can take a human host; she’s an ancient Greek warrior-goddess-legend who guards the world of imagination, and she’s just as cool as Wonder Woman. Who has Promethea chosen as her next host? Sophie, of course, and in this first book Sophie not only realizes her abilities, but meets her predecessors, the last Prometheas, and learns of the evil mystical forces (of course) who are coming after her.
Promethea combines the grittiness of a futuristic New York with the power of imagination and the romantic mystery that is mythology and folktales. This probably rings a bell, because the inspiration from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series literally jumping off the pages. If you love Sandman like I know you should, this will be an instant favorite. And like Sandman, this isn’t your standard comic book fare. Promethea breathes imagination, living fairytales, at once romantic and dangerous. Few will completely understand the plethora of literary and mythological symbols and references, but that isn’t alienating. It’s a book that is to be experienced and enjoyed than totally understood.
With a story so sprawling and imaginative, the art accomplishes no small feat of matching it. The structure of the frames and the colorful, complicated backgrounds have a life of its own, adding another atmosphere to the book; the way the pages themselves become a work of art is quite brilliant. Open it and you’ll see what I mean.
Alan Moore is one of the most highly lauded comic book writers of all time, and Promethea deserves all the praise coming its way. Why not a perfect score then? As much as I enjoy Promethea herself, Sophie is somewhat lacking in personality. Hopefully, after the grandiose introduction and acclimation to Promethea and her world, we can see and appreciate more of Sophie in the next installment.