Posted on August 13, 2009 by Flames
Written by Daniel Corey
Art by Anthony Diecidue
Can violence solve every problem in the world when applied correctly? Is a quick hand and a quicker trigger finger going to save the world when it really counts? And what about the morality of the common action hero…they look cool as they smoke cigars and fire their guns John Wu style, but are their methods the solution or the problem?
The Prophet is a crime noir comic from Dangerkatt Creative Studios. Set in Mexico, the main character is an underworld assassin by the name of the Prophet. After a series of disturbing dreams, where a black devil keeps offering him deals that would make him the most powerful man on the planet, he has decided he will quit after one last job. Well, a couple of last jobs, it seems. If he can score the Frontera Shipment, which is the largest shipment of drugs across the border into the US, then he believes he and the team he recruits will be able to retire.
In the background of this story, the upcoming Presidential election has everyone on edge. Everyone, from DEA agents from the US to other crime cartels are trying to get their candidate in office, and the Prophet slowly deals with his own sins as he commits more of them.
The supernatural aspect of this story comes from how the Prophet sees the world. Cleverly written into the story is the aspect of his visions. While it is clear that something supernatural is going on, at first you have to question whether the Prophet has gone mad from years of killing for profit or if he is actually earning a chance at redemption. Besides being the best gun in Mexico, the Prophet can also see what sins a man has committed, or instinctively know if someone is good or bad.
The characters shine through in this graphic novel. Not only does the Prophet make me nostalgic for William Money from Unforgiven, but the side characters really expand the universe that the story is set in. From his competitor-turned-ally Maria, who is almost as skilled as him and also interested in getting a take from the Frontera Shipment. The Preacher, who gives the Prophet his missions and gives him spiritual advice adds mystery to the Prophet’s origins. The villains add cruelty and brutality to the mix, with Mr. Cheshire being the Prophet’s evil counterpart who takes joy in what he does.
The art is well done, with my only complaint being that some faces appear too angular to properly fit on a human being. The dark pencil work blends in nicely with the story, and in the particularly dark scenes throughout the story the artwork helps the creators’ intent shine through. One such moment occurs in the Well of the Soldado sequence. The ghostly figure of the Soldado legend combined with the Prophet’s descent through water.
One aspect that is interesting about the story is how the narration shows the Prophet’s thought processes in a fight. Several factors that keep coming up are either what you would expect a hired gun to think of or what you would expect a human being to think of. While the artwork portrays swift gunfights and bloody fist fights, the narrator keeps you thinking while you watch it go on.
Case in point: A reoccurring question that comes up in the Prophet’s mind when he charges into battle is whether he’s become too old for fighting. Each wound he takes is a blow to his ego as it is his body; he feels he’s slower and his aim is not as it once was. He wonders if he should keep going and accept the devil’s offer or if he should quit his life.
Other thoughts are whether the committing of a sin is justified if it leads to justice. The Prophet defeats a major drug kingpin and his supernaturally enhanced nemesis Mr. Cheshire, but in the process he has to go through all the underlings and people who work for him. He knows that some only work for the drug cartels in order to feed their families, but they are an obstacle to him, and an obstacle that is trying to kill him. As he wards off the devil’s offers, the haunting dreams, and the mystical advice that the Preacher gives him, he has to keep killing until he reaches the end of his journey.
Sometimes, however, the Prophet seems to nail the point with a pretty broad hammer. Some of the villains are almost too malicious, and some of the narration can seem a little corny. Towards the end, the Prophet is built up to be almost unstoppable while his foes fall a little too easily. The fight between Maria and her counterpart was too short, and the nationalistic commentary about the United States and Mexico seemed a little dry, although if you are a reader who prefers more adventure than political commentary in their story than you will enjoy this story.
It was a thrilling ride from the beginning to end, with a combination of crime noir and holy vision which held my attention. Part of me wondered if the Prophet was delusional at first but as the story built up I began to wonder how it would end. While this story might not appeal to those who hate gritty crime dramas or lots of gun battles, the story has its moments where it makes the reader combines conflict with ethics. While a little long and the combat scenes could be shortened in some places, it is a perfect example of a modern spaghetti western and horror film combined.
Review by John D Kennedy