Best Shots Advance Reviews: PROPHET #21, WASTELAND #33
Best Shots Advance Reviews
Written by Brandon Graham
Art by Simon Roy and Richard Ballermann
Lettering by Ed Brisson
Published by Image Comics
Review by Scott Cederlund
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
A massive machine burrows its way out of the ground, into the sunlight for the first time in thousands of years. It dispels its lone passenger John Prophet out onto the dirt ground. He throws up a small packet of a stimulant that should help him wake up from his long sleep and so begins the new life of Extreme's Prophet. Instead of Rob Liefeld and Stephen Platt, this second act for the character is written by Brandon Graham and drawn by Simon Roy in a style that in no way resembles anything that Liefeld or his Extreme Studios put out in the 1990s.
Instead of picking up where the series left off in 1997 (at least that’s the closest I can figure out to when a new Prophet comic book was last published) with its hyper-muscular bodies and headwear out of some medieval sport, Graham and Roy begin a brand new story and a brand new character. He may share a name with the old Prophet but this one looks more like an astronaut in an orange jumpsuit. Imagine more Charleton Heston in Planet of the Apes as a stranger in a strange world and that’s the story that Graham and Roy are telling. Prophet wakes up 10,000 years in the future and has to survive long enough to find out what his mission in this world is. Maybe there will be ties to the old character later on but this issue starts out fresh, like we’re seeing a new character in a new world.
This issue is a world building issue but it does the world building right. Instead of getting caught up in the minutiae of how all of the cogs are put together, the world they create reveals itself to us as it reveals itself to Prophet. We discover the alien creatures and the gelatinous cities the same way that Prophet does-- by turning the page. They get us caught up in this world not by revealing everything all at once but by letting us experience it the same way that Prophet does. There’s little explanation about the sights and wonders in this book. Graham provides just enough to keep us interested in Prophet’s exploits.
Roy takes the wildest things in Graham’s script and makes it real. This series is going to have rotating artists, but starting off with Roy nicely establishes the tone of the book. He can draw a pack of futuristic wolves attacking Prophet and realistically set it in the middle of some woods or he can draw Prophet’s pod-like sleeping quarters where he has to mate with a slug-like creature before getting his mission. Roy lets his marks and his images tell the story. When the mark-making has to be natural, he lets his images look like something you could find in a National Geographic magazine. When he needs to be wild, his pages become alien and mystifying.
Prophet #21 could be the beginning of something great or something that will collapse under its own ambition. But that’s the thing-- it has ambition. Graham and Roy’s revamping of an old Rob Liefeld character has a wild, untamed vibrancy that makes it more of a comic of today and not a rehash of a 15 year old concept that only lasted for under 20+ issues. This is nothing that Liefeld could have or would have ever produced on his own. That in itself isn’t a good or a bad thing, but it should be an invitation to everyone to go into this book with an open mind and enjoy the new worlds and sights that Graham and Roy bring to life.
Written by Antony Johnston
Art by Justin Greenwood
Lettering by Douglas E. Sherwood
Published by Oni Press
Review by Edward Kaye
‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10
After suffering from some pretty serious delays throughout most of 2010 and 2011 Oni Press and series creator Antony Johnston have chosen to relaunch Wasteland with a new creative team, a new story arc, and hopefully a much more regular schedule. To mark to occasion, Oni are kicking off the relaunch with a special $1 issue, which they are promoting as a great jumping-on point for new readers.
Obviously, when it comes to a series that’s on issue #3, there is going to be a lot of continuity for new readers to catch up on. Thankfully, Johnston chooses to open this issue with a very comprehensive one-page guide to the story’s two main storylines, which should be enough to bring most new readers up to date. For those needing more, Oni Press also support the comic with a companion site at http://www.onipress.com/thebigwet/ that features extensive character guides, all of the ‘Walking in the Dust’ back-up features from previous issues, and even a free soundtrack EP composed by Johnston himself. The plot of the issue follows the characters of Michael, Abi, and Gerr as they trek through the wastelands in search of the fabled land of A-Ree-Yass-I. On their journey they happen across a remote “Cross-Chain” town and seek respite there. The “Cross-Chains” are the last remnants of Judeo-Christian religion in this post-apocalyptic world, and have only been referenced rather obliquely in the series thus far. The issue focuses mostly on the differences between the “Cross-Chains” and the “Sunner” religion followed by the protagonists, which makes for some interesting reading for series veterans, as well a great guide for new readers. Along with this, the story also cleverly reveals Abi’s special powers to new readers, and features an appearance from the enigmatic “branded man,” who promises to be a major focus of this new story arc.
Johnston tells the story using very little narration, instead leaving the storytelling up to the artwork, and also imparting some light exposition neatly hidden within the dialog. The dialog in the issue is incredibly well written, as Johnston has created a very rich dialect that is spoken by the people in this post-apocalyptic landscape, and subtle differences seem to exist between pockets of survivors. The story told in the issue is very well paced, and spends just the right proportion of time on character development, action, and seeding the storyline of the next issue. As a long-time reader of the series, I would say that the tale told here is highly accessible to new readers, but also doesn’t spend too much time bringing readers up to date, and advanced the ongoing storyline quite well.
With this new story arc, we welcome a new artist to the series, in the form of Justin Greenwood, who replaces outgoing artist Christopher Mitten, who will now be solely providing covers for the series. Greenwood’s linework is very clean and has a slightly angular/chunky flavor too it, which seems to suit the characters and the landscape rather well. His characters have a great range of expressions, which don’t just stop with their lips, but extend to their eyes and the rest of their face; in addition, they also exhibit some great body language. With his inking, he utilizes a heavy lineweight, which enhances the chunky feel somewhat, and he also seems to favour heavy backs, which makes for some high-contrast visuals that give the book a dark and mysterious look. I particularly like the fact that Greenwood doesn’t just fill blacks, but instead makes things interesting texturally with some great brushwork, some feathering, and some smudging in spots. Overall his inking technique puts me in mind a bit of that of Guy Davis, who is one of my favourite artists. The book isn’t coloured, but Greenwood finishes the artwork in greyscale, which allows him to play around even more with the levels of contrast to make for some really striking final artwork. There are also a few spots where he adds white finishes on top of the greyscale, which looks fantastic.
Wasteland #33 is a great jumping-on point for new readers but is also a highly rewarding issue for long-time followers of the series. Wasteland is one of the very best post apocalyptic stories out there, in comic format or otherwise, and it desperately deserves a place on your pull-list. You should definitely pick this issue up - priced at only $1 what have you got to lose?Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!