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Promethea by Alan Moore

Promethea (original 2000; edition 2000)

by Alan Moore, III. J. H. Williams, Mick Gray

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1,006None8,515 (4.06)16
Authors:Alan Moore
Other authors:III. J. H. Williams, Mick Gray
Info:La Jolla, CA : America's Best Comics, c2000-
Collections:Your library

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Promethea, Volume 1 by Alan Moore (2000)


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As it turns out I've read this before. However, I liked it a lot better this time--perhaps because I was paying more attention? Or got used to how Alan Moore writes from making my way through Watchmen? Whatever the reason, this was quite enjoyable and I'm looking forward to picking up the next one. ( )
  Krumbs | Mar 31, 2013 |
I am in love with this series. It's a spectacular blend of rich, wacky worldbuilding and an excitingly metatextual meditation on the nature of storytelling and imagination. The complex and convincing literary history that Alan Moore invents for Promethea is sure to make literature nerds happy, but meanwhile he entertains readers with a colorful world that is really rather Joss Whedon-y in its sense of humor and sensibilities.

Lest Alan Moore receive all the praise, the art is also fantastic. Too many comics have mediocre or merely decent art; every page in this comic really is a work of art, and evokes emotions that comic books usually can't touch.

If I have any complaint, it's that the main characters are college students but act like high school students - not that college-age kids are a particularly mature bunch, but Sophia and Stacia feel like sixteen-year-olds. However, since this is an alternate world, and it's unclear how old they're supposed to be, I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. ( )
  raschneid | Mar 31, 2013 |
Moore's original tale of a girl who is transformed into an ideal of truth and righteousness is exquisitely drawn in a style that evokes the flowing beauty of Mucha and the intricate designs of Tiffany. Each era brings a new woman to wear the mantle and embody the ideal of Promethea--if she can bear the weight. ( )
  kivarson | Apr 16, 2011 |
Sophie Bangs is a college student researching a character that has appeared independently in a variety of forms throughout arts and literature since the eighteen hundreds. However, Promethea is no mere story character – she is actually a mythological being that becomes manifest when an author depicts Promethea in a variety of literature – poetry, comic strips, pictures, and so forth.

In the first volume of Promethea, Sophie meets the wife of the last writer of the Promethea character, Barbara Shelley, and gets far more than what she bargains for when Barbara and herself are attacked by a mythical creature. It turns out that Barbara was actually a physical manifestation of Promethea, and that Sophie needs to become the next Promethea, fighting against a variety of mythological and fictional creatures that seek to take advantage of her initial weakness.

The Promethea series is quite an interesting graphic novel series. Alan Moore is doing quite a few experimental things in the graphic novel medium in this series of books, and whether you like what Moore is attempting or not, it does maintain interest. Some of the experimentation works, and works quite well. Some of it does not work so well, or, what I suspect is more likely, I am not able to appreciate what Moore is trying to achieve. But, in both cases, does make for interesting reading. Although that sounds somewhat confusing, I’ll elaborate on this in a moment.

The plot of Promethea itself, is of a fictional character (Promethea, titular character) that becomes manifest in the real world, is interesting and engaging, and done well, but with that said, it is sometimes (well, more than sometimes) difficult to follow. Moore depicts quite a complex theology, and the resulting ideas that are associated with it, and while his main points are put across quite clearly, such as the basics of the theology, and how fiction can be real in a particular sense, the more complex aspects of the theology are quite hard to grasp. It’s not that Moore does a bad job of it, quite the opposite, but it’s quite a complex subject and the somewhat experimental style of story-telling here.

Moore also employs multiple styles of writing and story-telling methods, too. He uses multiple types of literature forms to tell the story of Promethea. There is the graphic novel form (obviously), poetry, and fictional narratives, for example. Moore also employs other literary devices, such as showing multiple story threads as text at once, and knocking against the fourth wall in several places in the comics grabs attention, too. It’s interesting, it’s unique, but it can be quite hard to follow at times.

The art work and colouring deserve discussion, too. The experimentation is not merely limited to the method Moore employs to tell his story, but also in the artwork and presentation. The panel layout, for example, rarely sticks to the traditional rectangular movement, the layout and the flow of panels often changing. However, this inventiveness is both its strongest point and its largest weakness. Occasionally, the colour schemes make the story somewhat difficult to follow. The variety in panel layouts can be confusing, because the flow of the panels is not always clear, and this has a tendancy to disrupt the flow of the story.

The artwork and colouring shown in these graphic novels is excellent, particularly in the later volumes. The colour schemes and art styles change quite often too, sometimes multiple times in a single comic strip. These changes signify different time periods, different areas of the non-physical worlds which Promethea visits in her travels, and so forth. A lot of effort has been put in here, but some of the colour schemes and art styles work better than others.

In regards to my opinions of the first volume of the Promethea series in particular… the first book is the most accessible of all five. There are some interesting ideas present (which I will not spoil), and Promethea fighting against an assortment of demons does make for quite exciting reading. That said, some of the theology and symbology is lost upon me, so I find myself unable to fully appreciate what is occurring. Again, my rating is not of how good the book is, but how well I was able to appreciate it.

Overall, the Promethea graphic novel series is quite an interesting one, not only in regards to how it succeeds both as a story and graphic novel, but also in regards to how it does not. The rankings I give to the various volumes within the Promethea series are not a reflection of the quality of the books, rather, how well I am able to appreciate them, because I can admit that much of the theology Moore outlines is beyond me. ( )
1 vote rojse | Oct 20, 2009 |
I am an admirer of Alan Moore, from Watchmen, V, and From Hell, and also being very interested in Moore's own series about Magic, Story and Mythology, I was excited to pick up the first 4 collections. Now, having made it 3/5 of the way through the series, I know a few things about this story, that finishing it is not going to change. . .

Promethea is a Narrative about the nature of existence and narrative, told mainly through a Mystical Superheroine's journey through realm where Western Magic's symbols demons, and deities are manifest as physical, living things. Alan Moore makes a very strong case for his interpretation of mythology as an aspect of our reality as living information.

Promethea is a book I couldn't recommend more to someone who has an interest in reading about magic or practicing the real thing,
But if one has already studied it, or absorbed Moore's views via the dvd about is work "The Mindscape of Alan Moore" for example, there isn't much else here worth your time.

It's a little sad because Moore explicitly states at the very begining of the film, that no matter how fantastic the story you may be telling is, it must always have an emotional resonance. And while I can think of every reason why the story being told here matters, I can't bring myself to get invested at all in the characters for more than a few seconds. B.E. Ellis's Patrick Bateman is more sympathetic than the characters given here.

I think the main flaw of the work here is that Moore spent so much time trying to get his cosmology together, trying to imagine it as a journey through a story, but didn't take much time at all to develop his characters, almost all of the development is gained through realizations about the higher order of reality, none of it is really related in a human way. The dialogue between the characters on the magical journey is almost totally pat, maybe it couldn't be put any other way.

as a percievable whole, is a story about humans, that this author ultimately failed to put a human face on.

note: the themes and concepts in here are universal, but Moore's main field of study has been in western magick, not to the detriment of the east, just that that is what works for him.

For people interested in comics about Magic, and humanity, I'd reccomend Grant Morrison's "The Invisibles" it's much more down to earth, better paced, and has characters that more than ciphers the author uses to take us from one page to the next. ( )
1 vote Ain_Sophist | Feb 28, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Promethea is perhaps the most pure expression of some of the key themes of writer Alan Moore’s work.

» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alan Mooreprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Williams, J. H., IIIIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Williams, J. H., IIIIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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A small voice pleads in the desert,
A dread shadow laughs in the city,
A desperate student writes the truth.
To Leah, Amber, and Melinda;

To all my family, all my friends.
To my wife, Wendy, for all her everloving support, inspiration and insightful help in the design of Promethea. The art and my life wouldn't be as good without her. Oh, and for her cookies, I must not forget the cookies! Also to Mick Gray, my friend and colleague, and to the power of the imagination.
The ink that I slapped around on this book is dedicated to all the people who made it possible for me to slap around ink on comic books: J.H. Williams III, Mark McKenna, Dan Vado, Chuck Austen, Frank Cirocco, and the rest of you... [sic.] you know who you are. To my favorite comic book writer, Alan Moore -- THANK YOU! Also, I can't forget my wonderful wife, and assistant, Holly...[sic.] the greatest gal in the world.
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Alexandria, 411 A.D.
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University student Sophie Bangs finds herself in a struggle for her life when her investigation of the myths and stories of the mystic warrior woman Prometha lead her into a world of deadly spirits, desperate heroics, and the knowledge of power within herself.… (more)

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