On March 12, Vertigo Comics (a DC Comics imprint) will be releasing a new 20th anniversary deluxe edition for book one of the reality bending comic book series “Promethea,” authored by legendary writer Alan Moore.
Moore, known for his deeply imaginative storylines and his self identification as an anarchist and occultist (in 1993, at the age of 40, he declared himself to be a ceremonial magician), is the creative mind behind some of the comic book world’s most infamous stories.
Of these stories include the critically acclaimed “Watchmen” series, the “Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” series, the “V for Vendetta” graphic novel (which was later made into a film in 2005), and his 2016 fiction novel “Jerusalem”.
His most famous work (which happens to be my favorite comic book story) is his 1988 graphic novel “Batman: The Killing Joke,” which introduced a new Joker origin story that many have taken as the Joker’s “true” background prior to becoming The Clown Prince of Crime.
In 1986, Moore’s “Watchmen” was published by DC Comics, which garnered much praise and positive reviews. The comic was later adapted to the big screen in 2009.
Promethea, which was published in 1999 by America’s Best Comics, is possibly Moore’s most ambitious project, with the series being an intricate and complex thirty two issue story that spanned over the course of six years, the final issue being printed in April 2005.
The story involves a college student named Sophie Bangs, living in a futuristic version of New York in 1999.
For the subject of her term paper, Sophie chooses to write about Promethea, a fictional character that has appeared in numerous poems, newspapers, and comics for several decades.
While in the process of working on her paper, Sophie attempts to interview a woman named Barbara Shelley, the widow of the last person to ever write a comic about Promethea, but Barbara promptly shuts her down and gives her a cryptic warning about “looking for folklore.”
Later on as the story progresses, Sophie soon discovers that Promethea is not just a mythological character, but is actually a powerful entity whose aim is to usher in the apocalypse.
She also learns that the mystical being known as “Promethea” was originally born in the 5th century AD as the daughter of a magician and has existed for over a thousand years. For generations, Promethea has merged herself within the consciousness of others, using their bodies as vessels, with Sophie being next in line.
Like many of his other stories, Moore’s “Promethea” is littered throughout with references to the occult, Aleister Crowley, “magick” and if that weren’t enough to make you scratch your head in confusion, each issue that was printed is based on the “tree of life.”
If you look at a diagram of the tree of life, you’ll notice that there are ten nodes along with twenty two lines (known as “paths”). Add ten and twenty two together, you get the number thirty two, which is the number of volumes that “Promethea” consists of.
Diving in further, the final, 32nd issue of the series is made up of thirty two pages, with each individual page expounding upon one of the paths that lead to each node, the nodes themselves representing aspects of God, consciousness, existence and the human psyche.
So far, I’ve only read two of Alan Moore’s stories (“Watchmen” and “The Killing Joke”), but after seeing a brief YouTube clip about “Promethea” during Spring Break, I’ve already reserved my copy from the public library in anticipation to have my mind blown.