Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Promethea book one

Alan Moore, J.H. Williams III & Mick Gray,
Promethea book one (2000)

Without having really drawn up any formal plans, I was sort of avoiding this one. I first encountered this same collection in my local library about ten years ago. At the time I'd more or less given up on comics, Grant Morrison's excruciating Unreadables having pretty much driven the last nail in the coffin of that sort of thing so far as my dipping toes into any fresh waters was concerned. The odd thing was that, having at last fully converted to reading proper books, I found I lacked the patience to read a comic, which I know doesn't seem to make sense given the art form supposedly being the more immediate, the less demanding in terms of attention span; but the notion that Alan Moore was still at large, so to speak, was of course enough to inspire curiosity, and so I picked out a couple of collections. Top 10 I quite enjoyed, but Promethea I found incomprehensible, although I now have no idea why this should have been. Maybe I was reading a later volume rather than this one, or maybe my attention span really had developed some sort of incompatibility with comics as a medium. Anyway, whatever the case may have been, I didn't warm to the title, and more recently - at least since I rediscovered the form to some extent - I've been warned off Promethea as just the sort of thing I would probably hate. Much as I love Alan Moore, I've sometimes found his work a little more indulgent than I like, and I tend to avoid certain flavours of esoteric wittering because they remind me too much of the sort of hopeless bollocks that has kept Genesis P. Orrible in Franklin Mint monographed Aleister Crowley collector plates and breast implants for the last couple of decades.

Oh yes, you're really into Spare, are you? How interesting.

Still, I'd just popped into my local Android's Dungeon to pick up the first issue of Multiversity out of curiosity and just in case it doesn't turn out to be complete shite, and Nine Lives Books was next door, and I wasn't going to buy anything but oh fuck it...

Assuming this was the same volume I read way back whenever, I'm not entirely sure what it was that I didn't get. Promethea manages to pile on all of the usual layers of self-conscious magickal weirdness whilst remaining a fairly straightforward and engaging supertale; well - straightforward aside from being way above average and introducing a variety of female characters performing functions other than having breasts and being feisty whilst asking some bloke what he thinks should be done. It's not so funny as Moore's Top 10 from the same era and possibly the same mythology, but it's nevertheless decent, pulling some of the same tricks, not least building a retroactive back story so convincing as make one wonder if there really was a P. Craig Russell version of Promethea knocking around back in the seventies. There seems to have been rather a lot of fiction as magic tales doing the rounds of late, unless I've only just noticed it, and this is definitely one of the more entertaining efforts.

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