Being a big Alan Moore fan, I’ve wanted to read Promethea for a while now. At the same time, I’ve known that reading Moore requires a reader’s full attention. The attention to detail, the density of the art—it all plays such a crucial role in the reading experience. To sweeten the deal, J. H. Williams III’s art on the book elevates the story it portrays. This book hits all of the right notes, and how could it not with such a killer creative team?
Title: Promethea Book 1
Storytellers: Alan Moore & J. H. Williams III
Publisher: America’s Best Comics
Year of Publication: 2000
Page Count: 160
Sophie Bangs was a just an ordinary college student in a weirdly futuristic New York when a simple assignment changed her life forever. While researching Promethea, a mythical warrior woman, Sophie receives a cryptic warning to cease her investigations. Ignoring the cautionary notice, she continues her studies and is almost killed by a shadowy creature when she learns the secret of Promethea. Surviving the encounter, Sophie soon finds herself transformed into Promethea, the living embodiment of the imagination. Her trials have only begun as she must master the secrets of her predecessors before she is destroyed by Promethea's ancient enemy.
SPOILERS FOR PROMETHEA BELOW
What I learned about Comic Book Storytelling in Writing
I don’t need to tell anyone Moore is a mastermind or that for every one thing I learn from a book of his, there are going to be two things I missed. Still, like Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Promethea is a goldmine of craft.
Thinking as a writer while I read this book, it was hard to not try and see the story machinery moving behind the scenes. Almost every line of dialogue appears both throwaway but also integral. This might be a side effect of having read Moore’s work before. The seeds of future stories are sown in here, though, and knowing that I already have a sense of completeness of story before I’ve finished the series. Much like yesterday's amazing Nailbiter volume 1, it reads like there’s a plan.
And as I start planning and writing my own longer-form stories, Moore’s writing is definitely informing how I go about setting up plot points and payoffs.
What I learned about Comic Book Storytelling in Art
Williams III always delivers, and there’s a reason for that—design. He gets it. Like Victor Santos, Jonathan Hickman, but in his own unique way, Williams III both knows how to draw sequential art AND design a page. And while I’m not (usually) the artist on the stories I write, thinking about the design of a page as I write it suddenly feels more important after seeing what it can accomplish.
Moreover, Williams III’s designs repeat patterns and motifs, which enhances and builds upon on the central ideas of Promethea—the idea of legacy and repetition.
Recommendation: B (Entertaining, worth a read)
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