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Promethea Paperback – February 1, 2003

4.4 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews
Book 2 of 5 in the Promethea Series

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Gray is a long-time comics inker.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: WildStorm (February 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1563899574
  • ISBN-13: 978-1563899577
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 0.2 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #218,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is the second collected volume of the series. It's probably best to start with volume one. :-> That said, this continues the story of the living legend Promethea, as currently embodied in an alternative, technologically-advanced 20th Century. The 1999/2000 New Year's Day celebrations take place in this volume, for those wishing to keep score.
Each issue is becoming more jewellike and perfect, it seems to me (though I haven't gone on to the third compendium yet). One entire issue/chapter in this volume is given over to an exploration of humanity's history through the metaphor of a modified tarot deck, as told by the snakes on Promethea's caduceus, Mike and Mack (Micro and Macro - who speak in rhyming quatrains of iambic pentameter, flawlessly, each keeping his recognizable viewpoint towards either the big picture or the minutiae). Along the bottom of each page is both an anagram of Promethea's name that is pertinent to that page's content, and a serialized joke whose phrases again echo and reinforce the other three threads on each page. Another issue is given to an extended tantric sex scene (nothing is explicitly shown but boobies, though MUCH is implied), with a discussion of the theory and practice of magical symbolism and chakras ... which leads to a priceless last-page joke.
It's not a traditional narrative comic book. It's not even as traditionally-narrative as the first volume. It's ... dreamlike, and dense, and strange, in a way that is entirely appropriate for a work purporting to be about the world of imagination, and how that world interacts with our own through its avatar. It's not everyone's cup of tea, no. But if you like Neil Gaiman, you might well enjoy this too.
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Format: Paperback
Alan Moore is perhaps the most groundbreaking and innovative comic book scribe in the history of comics. Sure, the field has provided many groundbreaking and innovative comic book artists (from Windsor McKay to Will Eisner, from Jack Kirby to Frank Miller, from Alex Ross to Steve Ditko, and many many more...), but in my opinion, no other comics writer (emphasis on the term "writer") has brought so much to this often maligned art form. Alan Moore has proven that sequential storytelling can be as interesting, thought provoking, inspiring and imaginative as prose storytelling (and indeed, even more at times, since comics have one advantage over prose alone: imagery).
Alan's best known work is of course "Watchmen", often copied and emulated but still unequaled in depth and richness after more than a decade. However, it must not be forgotten that Alan has provided his avid fan base (and an immense number of casual comic book readers from all walks of life) with many delightful comics works since Watchmen. Of these, Promethea stands apart as a very emotional and personal work from its author.
This series is a vehicle for Alan to explore and expose to the readers many themes presumably dear to him. To be able to do so, he has devised a rather interesting trick for the story, creating a framework in which the primary characters (Promethea and her immediate supporting cast) evolve and convey the message to us readers (at some point, the so called "fourth wall" is even breached, much to the delight of Scott McCloud's fans). This trick consists, in fact, of a gigantic road trip through various realms (that is, places the characters visit during the stories) existing outside of our perceived "real" or physical world.
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Format: Hardcover
When I reviewed the first volume in this series, I described the general idea in the following way: 'Promethea' is an attempt to render the female super hero in an archetypical form. This book has a strong mystical or spiritual theme, with the female lead cast in a pluralistic role: she is both Sophie Bangs, student, and Promethea, imagination personified. Our Promethea is not the first, there is a whole line of Prometheas stretching back to ancient Egypt, and we get to know some of the earlier ones in this book.
This volume collects issues 7 through 12 of the series. If anything, it tops the previous volume.
Alan Moore and JH Williams III are firing on all cylinders here - we get quite a detailed examination of spiritual themes, contrasted and compared to quantum physics; some superheroing; one of the most sensual comics you're likely to see, and a diverse cast of characters.
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The volume where Moore's work begins to slide. The weakest part of this volume is the final issue, the Tarot issue. In it, Promethea is given a lesson in the significance of the Tarot cards -- each one "represents" some moment in the creation of the universe and signifies a step in the path to enlightenment.

Yeah, whatever.

The issue itself is quite well-done, combining multiple levels of visual and verbal narration. There's one thing you can't deny about Promethea as a series and that's that it pushed the limits of graphic story-telling in fabulously inventive ways. But the structural schematics of Moore's cosmology is, at base, crude, over-simplified, and frankly, very juvenile. As with all attempts to map reality onto a human-made conceptual framework, the supposed "discoveries" of the "truths" within the Tarot are, in fact, projections of Moore's own cultural vocabulary. That is to say, he doesn't uncover any meanings in the Tarot, he creates them based on ideologies that organize his thinking.

But besides this one hiccup, the series itself is still quite good at this point. As a meta-fictional tale about the nature of imagination, it's insightful, if not earth-shattering, and Moore's sense of humor and imagination, when he gives it full rein, is wonderful. He should probably get an award for the single greatest creation ever, the Weeping Gorilla. It's a comic-strip within the world of Promethea; each one is just a sad Gorilla crying while thinking about some utterly banal inconvenience of life that is so pathetic as to be tragic. Example: "Everyone said I should upgrade to Windows 95." Love it.
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