Friday, September 9, 2011

End of Dazed and Confused



Promethea Book 5, written by Alan Moore, illustrated by J.H. Williams III, Mick Gray and Jose Villarrubia (2003-2005; collected 2006): Promethea, the 1600-year-old demi-goddess whose current host/personality is young college student Sophie Bangs, will end the world if Bangs allows her to manifest again. So Bangs hides from the government and from herself in New York under an assumed name.

But the paranoid, increasingly militaristic U.S. government has recruited science-hero Tom Strong to track Promethea down because Strong knew one of Promethea's previous avatars back in the 1950's. Strong reluctantly agrees, but he doesn't believe that Promethea really means to end the world.

But she does. She has to. That's her job.

And so the end comes to the Earth of Moore's America's Best Comics imprint, ushered in by the unstoppable Promethea despite the best efforts of Tom Strong and the rest of that world's heroes. From the realms of fiction and poetry and magic and gods descends judgment on everything. But what does the end of the world actually look like?

Well, it doesn't look like the end of the world in Moore's Watchmen. Promethea is a much different bringer of catastrophe than Ozymandias. And violence is not a solution or a means to a solution.

Moore's 32-issue exegesis on magic and the nature of reality comes to a stunning end here, beautifully imagined by both Moore and his artistic collaborators J.H. Williams III, Mick Gray and Jose Villarrubia. This may be one of the most visually beautiful comic books ever created, and one of the most visually complex. It's not for everybody -- this is a didactic essay about Moore's actual beliefs ever since he decided to become a practicing magician (!) in the 1990's.

Images and iterations of the Kabbalah, the Tarot Deck, various occultists and pretty much every religion under the sun get combined and recombined within Moore's apocalyptic vision -- with the caveat that 'apocalypse' derives from the Greek word for "revelation" or "lifting of the veil."

Never has Aleister Crowley made so many appearances in a comic-book series not named Aleister Crowley. Hurry down doomsday! Highly recommended.

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