"There are 1,000 comic books on the shelves that don't contain a philosophy lecture and one that does. Isn't there room for that one?"
Promethea (1999-2005) was an award-winning comic book series by Alan Moore, published by Americas Best Comics. Sorry, we're probably going to have to be more specific, huh?The protagonist, student Sophie Bangs, while researching a college paper, discovers several references to a character named Promethea. These references are in a variety of literary works including epic poetry and comic books. Curious Sophie investigates and eventually finds Barbara Shelley, the wife of the now-deceased author of the latest incarnation of the character. Her attempt to interview Ms. Shelley is unsuccessful.Her investigation has been noticed, and she is warned by Barbara Shelley. On her way home she's attacked by a Living Shadow, but is rescued by a curious figure - Barbara, dressed as the latest incarnation of the Promethea character.After they escape, Barbara tells Sophie how her husband's imagination made it possible for her to become Promethea. She explains to Sophie that in ancient Egypt a magician tried to save his daughter from the religious persecution that would kill him by getting his gods to preserve her forever as a story. Barbara further explains that some authors including her husband enabled her to cross back into the material world through the power of imagination as the superhero Promethea. Barbara warns Sophie that they have only managed to slow the Living Shadow down. She suggests that Sophie try and use her creativity to summon Promethea or they are both doomed. Sophie retreats and writes about the character, imagining herself as Promethea, and succeeds in fully embodying her. She manages to fight back the creature as it returns, but her troubles have only just begun.Now Sophie has to figure out how to be Promethea and herself. She has to learn to identify and deal with Promethea's enemies, and for that she seeks guidance from the former incarnations of Promethea. This involves journeys into the Immateria, where individual imagination and a more universal plane of ideas meet.The series has a heavy focus on the occult, and its related spiritual and psychological questions.
Action Girl: Most, but not all, incarnations of Promethea.
The Painted Doll is fond of addressing the reader, particularly after a murder.
As The End of the World as We Know It approaches, the series writer and artist make cameo appearances, as does the reader, when Promethea, in her final revelation to humankind, acknowledges the story she's a part of, while emphasizing it's not just a story.
Cliché Storm: The entire point of the Weeping Gorilla, an in-universe comic book character whose only function is to spout such maudlin, commonplace sayings as "Why do pets have to die?" and "I hate my body."invoked
Ethnic Scrappy: The Little Margie strips spoof this with Chinky, a ridiculously racist Chinese caricature. The Little Margie comic started in 1901; realistically, it probably could have been much worse.invoked
Although within Promethea itself Chinky only appears in Moore's prose prologue to the series, Steve Moore (no relation to Alan), in Tomorrow Stories, included him in two Spin-OffLittle Margie tales in the form of Little Nemo-style Newspaper Comics. The first tale plays the trope straight; the second subverts it by having Chinky reveal himself in his true form as a non-stereotypical Chinese prince, Ching-Ki.
Gender Bender: While Promethea is always female, one of the incarnations was male, and transformed when needed - the fact that he was a gay man was a factor in some unfortunate circumstances. There's also one of the Five Swell Guys, who seems to have suffered a permanent one-way transformation to female
The Ghost: the Night Queen is referenced repeatedly, but never actually appears.
Higher Self: Promethea herself is a higher self to the various people who embody her. The Angel Boo-Boo definitely is, being the guardian angel and divine expression of the previous Promethea, Barbara Shelley.
The Scrappy: Little Margie is an in-universe example. As the fictional creation of Margaret, she's stuck hanging around for eternity in the Immateria with her and the other deceased Promethea hosts, and her Little Nemo-like exclamations get on their nerves.invoked
Shout-Out: Every cover pays a homage to a certain artistic style, from Andy Warhol to Van Gogh's, including a simile of mid-20th century monster movies.