Book Review: Promethea #1 by Alan Moore, J.H. Williams III, Mick Gray

Sophie Bangs was a just an ordinary college student in a weirdly futuristic New York when a simple assignment changed her life forever. While researching Promethea, a mythical warrior woman, Sophie receives a cryptic warning to cease her investigations. Ignoring the cautionary notice, she continues her studies and is almost killed by a shadowy creature when she learns the secret of Promethea. Surviving the encounter, Sophie soon finds herself transformed into Promethea, the living

embodiment of the imagination. Her trials have only begun as she must master the secrets of her predecessors before she is destroyed by Promethea’s ancient enemy.

Promethea is a muse (lower-case on purpose) come to life. An incarnation of story itself, maybe? This work is so fascinatingly clever and meta that I could forgive a lot of the things that rubbed me the wrong way — some of what happens is hard to believe even under the rules of this universe (and it’s own universes, really). I found it hard to conceptualize how Promethea would “exist” singularly when more than one person could write about her at the same time — it could get complicated. It already is complicated with her previous “versions” still in existence in the imagination-whatever-realm.

tumblr_nzh4pejv2a1sq26wfo1_500The story potentially falls into all the plot holes you would find in the novel Inkheart, where someone could just write (instead of read) “and she dies” and the come-to-life being is done/the plot undermined. That said, there is still room for this “magical embodiment” to be explained better — fleshed out.

I read this as a spin on Wonder Woman — how there are so many versions of her, some of them sexist or ridiculous, yet all part of the same mythos. Mythos is another interesting point explored in this work — it takes from our culture and myths (mainly Egyptian and Greco-Roman?) like Marvel and DC comics do (i.e. Thor, Wonder Woman), yet doesn’t bastardize them without good reason (as I sometimes think mainstream comics do — do your research, damn it. Loki wasn’t Odin’s son!). Sophie is in a futuristic version of our world — not our exact world. That’s spelled out plainly. This is also why I could forgive a lot of the underlying theology (read: “The gods need prayer badly“) in the plot. The same rules do not apply.

Another review on Goodreads I agree with:

Promethea started with a really interesting concept: “What if there was a mythical being [Promethea] who every once in a while chose a person as her avatar. She would then fight to protect people.” The usual schtick about someone being granted powers and never being told precisely how they work follows. They “discover” what it means to have these powers through instinct and moral lessons. Anywho, overall it laid a decent base for a series even if it went on a few tangents that could have been omitted. 

I’ll be reading the second one, for sure!


This post was updated on 9/8/17


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