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Comic Book / Prophet

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Prophet is an American comic book series published by Image Comics, written by Brandon Graham (creator of King City and Multiple Warheads) and illustrated mostly by Simon Roy, Farel Dalrymple and Giannis Milonogiannis.

In the distant future, a man awakens on an alien planet. Instinctively, he sets out on a mission, using his inherent warrior skills to face off with strange creatures and cultures. Then it happens again. And again.

John Prophet was the ultimate warrior for The Empire. He was so valued by them that he was cloned. Thousands of times. Now, tens of thousands of years later, after the Empire has fallen into disrepair, sleeper clones are activated to help re-establish this vast interstellar power, carrying out individual missions and sometimes teaming up with other clones to help their Queen. The only thing in the way of their shared mission? An ancient, warrior John Prophet, who is assembling his own Rebel Alliance to fight off the return of the Empire.

The series is a not-quite Continuity Reboot of Rob Liefeld's character of the same name, a 1920's vagrant bio-engineered to be the ultimate soldier for an evil magnate, then secretly reprogrammed by his creator to do good, all while hopping around time and losing his memory. The new series starts at issue 21, and is technically a Revival, but it disregards almost every element of the original run to do something very different.

Prophet contains examples of:

  • All There in the Manual:
    • Subverted – lots of technical info (such as cutaways of structures and labels identifying specific technologies) is inserted directly into the art, without interrupting the actual plot or dialogue. It's largely justified because of just how complex the universe of Prophet is.
    • Additionally, the Prophet Strikefile guide book expands on some elements of the back story but also raises more questions of its own.
  • Amazon Brigade: The Babel-Horolegion, also known as the Woman Armada, a spaceborne migratory war fleet of all-female transhuman cyborgs.
  • Artificial Limbs: One Prophet's lost arm is replaced by his bio-tech harvesting a severed alien arm, another has a tail that he acquired before the main storyline.
  • Battle Trophy: An Alien warrior stalks the main character of the first storyline because his human skull would make a unique addition to his collection.
  • Become a Real Boy: Diehard is a complicated example. He originally was a biological human, but 10000 years spent replacing lost body parts with cyborg implants eventually left him as a full robot, with none of his original human flesh. His angst could be best summed up as "Become A Real Boy Again".
  • Bio Punk: The technology of this future relies heavily on bio-tech and cyborgization. The Earth Empire uses a mixture of mechanical and biological war machines, as well as bio-engineered clone soldiers.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: It's a band of rebels who are perfectly willing to kill and destroy in their quest, going up against a genocidal, xenocidal, brainwash-happy Bio Punk Empire. That said, some of the people on the Earth Empire's side (such as Brother John Ka) are quite grey as well.
  • Boldly Coming: Old Man Prophet's backstory involves a relationship with a Scale called Yilala.
  • Continuity Nod: One of Badrock's (from Youngblood (Image Comics)) kids shows up as a small planet.
    • In the latter half of the series a number of Youngblood (Image Comics) characters have appeared, all in radically different form. Suprema is a being of pure light living inside a seashell planet. Supreme is dead and is used as a power source for the woman army. Troll is an enigmatic mystical figure guiding certain Prophets. Diehard is of course a main character and is at one point given an orb with an image of the original Youngblood team.
  • Continuity Reboot: Looks like one at first glance, but it's technically more of a Revival - the new series is completely different stylistically, and in another genre from, the 90s series but is still within the same continuity, just in the far, far distant future.
  • Cool Helmet: The ubiquitous Crown shields protect ther wearers against telepathy. They look like Happuri.
  • Cool Ship: Plenty, from the biological warships used by the Earth Empire to the Woman Armada's crystal fleet. Special mention goes to Prophet's ship, Insula Tergum, which can morph its outer hull into almost any shape (including giant fists for fighting an enemy Humongous Mecha).
  • Creepy Child: The Arch-Mothers are humans with huge brains and tiny atrophied bodies; the psychic projections that they use to command the Prophet Clones resemble ghostly little girls.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Subverted, Diehard is a recurring character and by this point of time all of his organic components are long gone; he's part of the Rebel Alliance and a sympathetic character. Other robotic and cyborg characters are shown helping the protagonists.
  • Determinator: All of the Prophets, but especially the old man. However, the newer Prophet clones are conditioned to fight to the death for the Earth Empire, while the old man Prophet is a free man with a personal grudge against the Empire.
  • Days of Future Past: A Prophet wandering in a giant abandoned space station finds refuge in a room decorated like baroque 17th century bedroom, A hologram he finds displays evolved humans dressed accordingly.
  • Darker and Edgier: A rare example where a reboot gets away from this. Liefeld's original series was one of his many examples of 90's gritty (and poor) storytelling. While the new series is not lighthearted, it manages to approach serious and large story arcs without wholly relying on violence.
  • Decoy Protagonist: At the end of the first story arc, the wandering John Prophet on Earth is shown to be just one of millions of John clones – and the true protagonist of the story only emerges later, when the the old man John Prophet is released from his slumber on an alien world and begins fighting back against his former Earth masters.
  • The Empire: Initially, the Earth Empire seems to be the "good" side, working to reclaim Earth from alien colonists, but it is later shown that it is a brutal and genocidal force that is trying to ensure its hegemony over the entire universe.
  • Expendable Clone: While useful, most Prophet clones are much less important than the success of their mission. Some clone leaders express affection for their troops, but in general the Johns are treated as cannon-fodder.
  • Giant Corpse World: Pretty much everywhere, you take resources where you can get them. There's the Jell coty on earth that is deliberately designed to be this. Then there's massive star giants that are getting mined.
  • Hive Caste System: An alien colony on Earth that live in their crashed spaceship has this structure. The reestablished Earth Empire also seems to be hive-like, despite its apparently human nature – queen-like "mothers" psychically command armies of clone soldiers, while specific clone castes exist for infiltration, spaceflight and even prostitution.
  • Human Popsicle: Stasis and hibernation technology is used extensively, particularly by the Earth Empire.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu / Humans Are the Real Monsters: 10,000 years in the future, the human race as we know it no longer exists – now it is a fanatical empire of warrior clones led by posthuman cyborg-brains, feared across the universe as a threat to all other sentient life. Although the old man John Prophet is depicted as a hero, most of his allies are aliens and robots, not actual humans.
  • Humongous Mecha: Giant semi-organic robots known as Star Prophets are used to support clone troops by the Earth Empire. Purely mechanical war-bots also turn up in various scenes; in a flashback, the cyborg Diehard is shown commanding several giant robots in addition to his own robot body.
  • Mind Rape: One story arc deals with an alien intelligence that projects an agonising psychic field around itself, forcing entire alien species to serve as its slaves. Mind-control and memory manipulation is heavily used by various factions, especially the Earth Empire.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Many of the alien species are multi-limbed; some of the Prophet clones are also enhanced with extra limbs for close combat.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: One of the Earth Empire leaders is known as "The Three-Armed World Raper".
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The John Prophet from the first storyline tries to prevent an alien king from being assassinated, not realizing its a long held tradition for the new king to ritualistically kill the old.
  • Oh, My Gods!: "Eye of All!"
  • Opposite-Sex Clone: A few of the John clones introduced so far have been biologically female, most notably John Ka, a member of the Newfather's arch. However, they still have a similar facial structure to the male clones, and are referred to as "brothers" even though they use female pronouns.
  • Portal Cut: The Prophet from the first arc uses portals to kill a group of Crystal Blessed on the mountain.
  • Portal Network: The Cyclops Rail, a series of man-made wormholes.
  • Pronoun Trouble: All Prophets, regardless of gender, have the first name "John" and are referred to as "brothers". That said, the female Johns are referred to as "she".
  • Recycled IN SPACE!!: The initial inspiration for the new series was Conan the Barbarian IN THE DISTANT FUTURE! The series eventually evolved into something else.
  • Send in the Clones: The Empire's strategy with their thousands of John Prophet sleeper clones. Different types of clone are used for different missions – super-intelligent "Father Johns" lead armies while giant "Magnus Johns" are used as siegebreakers.
  • Sex Slave: The Earth Empire breeds a particular caste of small, delicate clones to provide sex for the soldier Prophets.
  • Shattered World: One image shows Earth's moon has a massive chunk missing from its mass, presumably due to stray Wave-Motion Gun fire.
  • Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: What really cements the Earth Empire as evil in a universe of moral ambiguity is their persistent and continous use of slavery at every level of their society. The entire empire is built on the labor of whole alien races enslaved by the Prophets, who are in turn enslaved (both physically and mentally) by the Arch-Mothers.
  • Space Opera: What seems like the story of one lone warrior quickly evolves into a galactic story of political, military, and technological forces vying for power.
  • Starfish Aliens: All over the place. The world of Prophet is brimming with wonderfully bizarre alien species, such as the Kinniaa (quadrupedal faceless tree-people who grow indefinitely with old age and grow into a vast Hive Mind) or the Qid-pid (centauric hunter-slaver aliens with four eyes, clawed hands and a long skinny "neck" that connects the skull to the beaked face). More or less the only exception are the Men of Scales.
  • That's No Moon: The corpses of humanoid "star giants" killed in ancient wars are covered in cities and even mined for their valuable flesh.
  • Time Abyss: The story is set well over 10,000 years in the future, when Earth has been colonized by aliens and the human race has become a militaristic empire of bioengineered clones. Some issues reveal the backstory of the extremely long-lived characters, showing (for example) how a small boy growing up in 1920s rural America became the immortal cyborg Diehard.
  • Try to Fit That on a Business Card: When the grandfather John Prophet awakes, he is referred to by a variety of impressive names.
    "Friend of the Scale, The Unkillable Knife, The Wave Crester, The Spiral Jumper. The Lord of the Wolf-Rayet Star. The Old Man, Great Grey Grandfather Jonathan Prophet has awoken."