Promethea: Book One

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.

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3 thoughts on “Promethea: Book One

  1. Promethea rules! I’m so glad you’ve reviewed this. I really feel like it’s one of the best examples of comic art and writing working together, and of giant ideas being given life, ever. Moore’s one of my heros.

    Not sure I noticed the “Sophie is schlubbish” thing, but I could have been dazzled by Promethea. ;) Also, I’ve read the whole series several times, so it’s hard to separate out book 1.

    Kudos!

    • Oh! And I forgot – JH Williams III was the starting (and possibly still is) artist on Batwoman (which I guess is technically is still Detective Comics). The way he does the two different art styles for Kane’s two different lives…soooooo beautiful!

      • Hey Ian! Glad to hear that you like the series, now I have incentive to get the next one! I have a feeling that Promethea will be one of my favourites before long. Haha the whole Sophie thing isn’t a huge deal for me, the ending score was really more like 4.5/5

        Aah that explains it, I love JH Williams III’s work on Batwoman! Ok, now he’s officially a fave artist :)

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