I awaken. The small spark of life grows within my nerdy, fanboy heart as I gain my strength. Sarcasm levels are suddenly off the charts! I clench my fist and shatter my cryogenic sleep chamber! Wiping off my glasses, I place them over my eyes. I then roar to the heavens, “Superman revealed his secret identity?! Who wrote that piece of crap?!”
And, just like that, comic book news brought your Symbifan back to you from many months of slumber, ready to grace you, my loyal fans, with the second installment of my look at Image Comics’ Prophet! But, since I was gone so very long, I’m going to reward you with not one issue review…but two! (Aren’t you special? I really do spoil you.)
I will make you wait no longer. Let the review begin.
When we last left Prophet and Kirby, they were attempting to break into an installation that, once within, would hopefully reestablish Prophet’s link to the satellite, D.O.C.C., therefore bringing the warrior back to full power. What they hadn’t counted on, was the sheer number of robotic soldiers that would resist their entry! (Seriously! You’d think that with the high number of high-tech automatons present, the government had money to literally throw away! Ah, America!)
Prophet and Kirby battle, back to back, against insurmountable odds. Prophet’s strength depletes from the excessive stress to his already-weakened body, until Kirby suddenly spots the chamber they are after! Forcing the outer door closed, he helps his comrade, arm over his shoulder, to the healing platform. (Kirby throwing Prophet’s arm over his shoulder to help him, made me giggle. I admit it! A four-foot man, dragging a man that’s reasonably around seven feet? You do the math!)
Kirby enters a password into the computer console and wham! A beam from the now-active satellite hits John Prophet full force, bathing him in energy!
But before the two can celebrate a mission well done, a government-sponsored super-team, Bloodstrike, bursts in ready to rumble! A gift from the Prophet’s supposed ex in the government. (Remember her? With the god-awful red outfit? Yep. Her.) To be continued…..
In the next issue, we start right off with a superhero showdown. Prophet and Kirby stand ready as Cabbot, field leader of Bloodstrike, orders them to stand down or expect force. Kirby leaves the decision to Prophet. And we, the readers, get what we want, a resounding no. (Now, we’re about to enter an average hero versus hero smackdown. Buckle up your seatbelts and grab your popcorn, because these are so rare in comics. You don’t believe me? Good. That shows great personal growth on your part.)
While the heroes get ready to fight, a helicopter circles the base below. It is inhabited by two people. One, a military pilot. The other? Mrs. “Red Dress” herself, Mary! Meanwhile, in the base, the heroes attack! Prophet makes his way past Cabbot with a well-aimed slice of his blades but immediately finds himself attacked by the clawed member of Bloodstrike, Deadlock!(Look everybody! We found Wolverine’s long lost twin brother! Isn’t he going to be happy?)
As the two battle, Deadlock tries to get under the skin of our hero by speaking ill of the Bible. This is not a smart idea! Prophet puts everything he has into one mighty punch! Say goodbye to Deadlock! But, as Prophet just won his battle, Kirby’s has just begun! The small man faces two highly-trained, super-powered women at the same time!
Using his small size and the force of the rushing women against them, Kirby ducks between Fourplay’s legs as she and Tag smash into one another! He then kicks the two into the computer consoles with enough force to take them out of the fight! (Way to go, Shorty! You won a cat fight! Snicker!) But, he then turns to see the giant, metal behemoth called Shogun ready to fight! Prophet, on the other hand, isn’t just kicking back and relaxing! Nope. Cabbot is far from being out of this scrap yet! The two men put everything they’ve got into this final showdown, but ultimately, Prophet is just too skilled to be defeated.
Good thing too. Because his partner is in need of serious aid as the mechanical monster fires countless bullets at him as it approaches! But with all of the attention on Kirby, Shogun doesn’t notice Prophet leap onto its shoulders! Too late! Prophet twists and pulls the giant metal head free of its body, ending the fight for good! (Daaaaaaamn! That’s all I can say here. Return to the narrative, already in progress….)
This moment of victory is interrupted by a woman’s voice telling both men to stand down. Turning, Prophet sees the woman he loved so many decades ago, Mary! The mighty warrior is in a state of utter disbelief! She then orders their surrender! Will they do so? Find out next time, loyal Unspoken-ites! This is Symbifan, back and badder than ever, baby! (God, it feels great to write again! Oh, and don’t think Mary’s horrendous choice in dress escaped my notice!)
This article is dedicated to you, the readers, for waiting month after month until I finally get these reviews out. Recently, I was diagnosed with sleep apnea. This causes me to just drop off to sleep whenever and wherever it feels like it. With this going on, I have felt like I have been in a complete coma for about a year. (Hence my comical beginning to this article.) That said, know that I am now on the road to recovery and I couldn’t appreciate your patience more.
Hi. My name’s Symbifan. I’ve spent quite some time gracing you Unspoken Decade fans with my musings over cherished tales from 1990’s Marvel and DC (and one cleverly written Archie Comics epic). But sadly, those times are now through. Thats right, I’m done.
Ha! You really fell for that? I just meant that this particular article won’t be about a Marvel or DC Comics character! No, I’m simply stepping out of my comfort zone to bring you the story of Prophet, an Image Comics character. (Terrified you, huh?) Well, now that I scared the bejesus out of you guys, I should probably just begin….
Jonathan Taylor Prophet was a man possessed. (And I don’t mean possessed like your typical 2010’s “horror” movie. Anyone else miss the good old-fashioned slasher flicks? I know I do!) As he trudged through the barren wasteland, his thoughts turned only to combat. To calm himself, he remembered his favorite Bible passages. The Word kept him controlled, a comfort to a warrior’s mind.
He pauses a moment to reflect, his muscles tense for the coming conflict. He doesn’t have long to wait. Several orb-shaped mechanical attackers arise and prepare. Prophet pulls twin blades and takes an easy breath. They attack. The numbers are definitely on their side, a lesser man would fall easily. But Prophet is no ordinary man. He dispatches the robotic foes with ease. The orbs are replaced by more humanoid metal assailants. Now in full fighting form, the warrior slices through them as if they’re composed of hot butter. (Mmm! Damn! I wants me some toast now! Hmm….out of bread. Ah, the life of a starving artist….)
A rope ladder appears past his oncoming attackers. Seeing the automatons have multiplied in number, he takes a calculated risk and leaps. As his hands grip tough rope, he’s pulled to safety by the flying vehicle it’s attached to. Upon reaching the top and entering the craft, Prophet is shocked by who his saviors are. A man cloaked in shadow and adorned with a long, flowing red cloak and…..Mary, the long-lost love of his life!
The look upon her features is one of obvious and malicious betrayal. The man, though in shadows, looks pleased at the pained look on Prophet’s face. Prophet finds himself at a loss for words. Just then, the hooded man slowly reveals his face. It is one that our hero knows well. It is his own!
He wakes up screaming. Kirby, his trusted friend, lowers his already diminutive form to look upon John Prophet with concern. (“Diminutive.” And you thought it was more fun to hang out with friends than study in English class, huh? Fools! Now, I can say “short” in intelligent sounding ways. Ha!) Kirby listens as John recounts his dream. The small man simply dismisses this as John’s need to reconnect to D.O.C.C., the satellite that is the source of his amazing abilities and a type of “center” for his rage-filled mind.
This calms Prophet somewhat as he sits up in what we now see to be the inside of a moving helicopter. Kirby questions the pilot as to an arrival timeframe. The man replies that they will reach their destination in fifteen minutes. The small man makes his way back to Prophet and the two gear up for whatever mission they’re about to begin. As they do this, Prophet admits that he is in a very confused state of mind. He recounts his origins aloud to his dwarven partner. (Oooooh! An origin story! Sit back and grab some popcorn, kiddies! We’re in for a real treat! After all, we all know just how much superheroes despise recounting their origin stories…..Ha, I barely typed that sentence with a straight face!)
Jonathan Taylor Prophet began his journey a short time after his father had been brutally murdered by Nazi soldiers. Not wanting to become a hindrance to his mother, and being the eldest of two boys, he tried his hand at many odd jobs. But, it was the work that he did with a man named Dr. Wells that would change the course of the young man’s life forever.
He would endure countless physical and mental tests over the course of several weeks, sending money home to get his family far from Germany as tensions rose in the world. Prophet was assured that, in the end, he was to become superhuman. Wells definitely wasn’t lying! He was even given a brightly-colored uniform and an indestructible shield! (Hahaha! Sorry! That was just too easy! Forget that last sentence. I’ll be good now. Promise.) The warrior-to-be even befriended Dr. Wells’ lab assistant, a young Kirby. But, this was not to last. John was told that Hitler had caught wind of this project and sought to make it his own! Quickly, Prophet was assured that his family and young fiancee, Mary, would be well taken care of, but to keep him from enemy hands, he would need to be put into a type of cryogenic sleep. He would be awakened in the future to be mankind’s savior against an enemy Wells called the Disciples. Prophet agreed, and soon, he slumbered.
Awoken only recently, Prophet was now allied once again with a now much older Kirby and in search of the D.O.C.C. satellite to help clear things up in his confused mind. Meanwhile, as the helicopter nears its snowy destination, we turn our attention to Washington, D.C., the interior of the Pentagon to be precise. There, we look in on a meeting already in progress. A man in glasses speaks to those assembled around a large meeting table about Prophet and his superhuman capabilities and how, given proper funding, his creation process just may be duplicated! He finishes by stating that the subject remains at large at this time, but their new liaison assures them this will be corrected very soon. The liaison enters the room dressed in a crimson jacket and matching skirt. It’s John Prophet’s fiancee, Mary! (Shocking, eh? I mean, a crimson outfit worn at an important government meeting? Tackyyyyyyyyyy!)
We then return our attention to the two heroic figures that now parachute down to the frozen earth below. The two free themselves from their chutes and begin to get their bearings. Kirby admits that this mission may just go awry. They are infiltrating a secret government facility, after all, and technically, John is a wanted man. (Good time for cold feet, Short Stuff! Where were these second thoughts during this entire godforsaken journey?) The smaller man asks the taller for advice. Prophet states that he has already said prayers to the Lord above. Kirby replies that he would appreciate a better battle plan than prayers. They both suddenly find themselves surrounded by heavily armed soldiers that demand the two freeze! Kirby rethinks his earlier statement about prayer. They may just need all the help they can get!
Well, Legions of the Unspoken, that’s the end of issue one of Prophet and this article. If you want more of ol’ Symbifan’s thoughts on later issues of Prophet, leave a comment and I’ll maybe consider making this a ten part series. But, until then, stay classy, comic collectors! Symbifan….out!
The end…..or is it…..?
Dedicated to my mom. Though we are now separated by miles, know that you will always be with me in my heart. I love you.
Hello, Legions of the Unspoken! It’s me, Dean Compton, back again once more! I know it’s been some time since I dropped by here, and believe-you-me, I have missed this place and all of you! Life comes at you fast, and even The Flash himself wouldn’t hit as fast as the way life has hit me over the last year. I’m about to embark upon my second move in 14 months, which will result in the 4th state I have lived in in that same time! It’s enough to make my memories seem like they stretch back to the beginning of time, Mr. Fantastic style!
Of course, my memories don’t really do that. I am blessed to have a good memory (although all that results is in me recalling every time someone was mean to me — I’m looking at you, Mrs. Jeffries, my fourth grade teacher!) ,but I can only remember what I have learned in my decidedly short lifetime. For someone who is eternal, though, having an even average memory means recalling details of thousands of years ago from great historical moments to what it was like to shit next to Woolly Mammoths.
Which brings us to the Super Blog Team Up theme this go-round: Immortal. Living forever or being eternal has its ups and downs, and between all the topics you’re gonna see around SBTU, we’re gonna hit every one of those highs and lows harder than Armstrong hits the bottle! 90’s comics were chock full of Immortals, but the Valiant Universe’s triad of immortal brothers has always appealed greatly to me. Gilad the Eternal Warrior, Ivar the Timewalker, and Aram…the drunk? They are brothers who are bonded by somehow being immortal. They can be killed, but it would take utter vaporization to keep them from being healed from most other wounds.
To be fair, Aram (whose name has evolved into Armstrong as time goes on) is much more than a drunk, although that is the image he puts forth most prominently. Having seen so many deaths and so much violence, he has seemingly retreated into debauchery. I mean, why not? The path of excess will lead to the palace of wisdom, or so I have been told. And when you this hard to kill, there’s lots of paths that lead to lots of excess that will surely end up in lots of wisdom, correct? Aram seems to think so.
Archer, on the other hand, isn’t immortal, isn’t nearly invulnerable, and isn’t a drunk. His parents were evangelists who engaged in awful torture and molestation of the younger members of their congregation, all without Archer’s knowledge. Archer, you see, believes wholeheartedly in his parents, their beliefs, Jesus, and himself. This belief enables him to sometimes become otherworldly in his ability to accomplish physical feats that would be impossible. After he catches his parents in their gruesome rituals, they attempt to kill him via burning the house down with him in it. He heads for the light, only to realize that someone needs to deal with the evil that is his parents. Archer heads back for reality.
His powers kick in, and he gets away, only to be hospitalized for smoke inhalation. With his parents lingering and waiting to kill him, he escapes from the hospital and somehow makes his way to a monastery in Asia, where he masters martial arts, marksmanship, and everything about their philosophy except for letting go of the pursuit of vengeance. To be fair, if my parents tried to kill me, I’d be all about some fucking Ghost Rider style vengeance too (probably with less flaming skulls, though). Archer leaves the monastery to get his vengeance, only to learn that his parents were arrested about two weeks after he ran away.
I know what you’re thinking: these two fucking belong together. Lucky you, buddy, because Valiant is giving you just that with Archer and Armstrong!
Created by Jim Shooter, Bob Layton, and Barry Windsor-Smith, you’d be hard pressed to find a funnier or more fun buddy comic than Archer & Armstrong. The book is sort of the superhero version of the relationship between Paula Abdul and MC Skat Kat from the “Opposites Attract” video. If you have not seen this video, goddamn, man, what are you waiting for? If you have and you are not smiling at the thought of it, you are a Terminator.
The song highlights a relationship between two people who have little in common. These differences start with the fact that one is a hot choreographer turned pop star and one is a cartoon cat and eventually end up much more mundane, like who makes the bed and who messes up the sheets. Archer and Armstrong, believe or not, have a similar dichotomy. Archer, the ultimate pious man who eschews vices, and Armstrong, who will seemingly live forever and never met a vice he didn’t enjoy twice.
Like many odd couples, these two meet on accident, with both of them living up to their ideals.
Armstrong sees this act of magnanimity as something to celebrate, and Archer has nothing better to do with his purpose gone. Armstrong promises to hear about Archer’s troubles, but instead does nothing but drink and tell what Archer perceives to be tall tales. You’d be hard-pressed to blame him for not believing Armstrong about the stories he tells. He often talks of long dead historical luminaries like Hannibal, and he looks like a cabbie from a 1970’s exploitation film. The only thing that differentiates him from other tellers of tall tales is that his are mostly true.
There’s no way for Archer to know this, though, so he departs from Armstrong, but not before Armstrong convinces him to look for a job as a bar bouncer. Archer’s naïveté disqualifies him from this job, despite his physical ability to perform it. His performance does attract a strange man named Mahmud, who seems to know a lot about Archer. He convinces Archer that there is a great evil that needs to be taken care of. If you guessed that said evil is Armstrong, then you have read a comic book before. Congratulations! They’re fun.
Over time a group of people have formed The Sect, a cabal dedicated to destroying Armstrong. Over the many years he has been alive, people of varying religious faith have determined that Armstrong is Satan, or at least a Satan. This makes sense. How many times over the years has this large cabbie dude bumbled into a village/town/city, gotten mega drunk, seduced some ladies, beat up a bunch of dudes, and then destroyed heavy property with the strength of a rhino? So, yeah, I bet some people have thought he was the devil, or at least close.
The Sect only manages to get Archer on their side for a bit, until Armstrong points out that he is only trying to get away, compared to The Sect, who is trying to kill him and don’t care who gets caught up in the collateral damage. Finally, our heroes are together and ready to make a stand!
The Sect has to wait, though, since at this very moment, Armstrong’s brother arrives on the scene, using Solar’s hand to find Armstrong to help battle the MotherGod during the events of Unity! (Which I still consider to be the best superhero crossover of all time. It’s mindblowingly amazing and seamless, even if you can’t read every part.)
This is truly the moment where the two are cemented together as partners. Being whisked off on an adventure that they really didn’t choose sets the template for the series. Archer & Armstrong is just one long buddy road trip story, and I mean that in the best possible way. I reckon this is also the moment that they become partners because Archer literally fucking says so.
I’m not going to tell you everything that happens to them during Unity or beyond, but I do want to take a moment to show the encounter between Turok and these two. After A&A botch an assassination attempt on Mothergod in the land of Unity, the would-be God sends Turok after our diametrically opposed duo. Just to see how opposed they are, look at how they differently they handle captivity:
It’s funny to think about, but Turok is almost certainly the most well known Valiant/Gold Key character in mainstream circles, due to his exploits on the N64 after his well-received game came out. I have lost count of the number of times I have manipulated a conversation into the realm of Valiant Comics (yes, this is something I do; don’t act like you don’t too), and the only character non-comics fans know is Turok. Perhaps that will change with the impending Bloodshot movie and all; only time will tell.
Before his N64 conquering days, though, Turok was a badass in the Valiant Universe. Everything he did just seemed and looked cool. and when he decides to take up arms in the service of the Mothergod with his cool fucking bow against Archer and Armstrong, it was must see. Could this Native American with somewhat advanced technology take out the Immortal and Quasi-Invulnerable Armstrong? Could he deal with the martial arts prowess of Archer?
Um, yeah, more or less.
After showing our own dysfunctional duo that he could honestly drop them just about anytime, Turok asks Archer why he shouldn’t.
Archer is able to convince the world’s greatest dinosaur hunter that he and his rotund and immortal pal aren’t the enemies here by appealing to Turok’s innate and devout sense of right and wrong. Archer always tries to appeal to the better nature of humanity. Sometimes, that costs him, but I find it inspiring that no matter how many times he is betrayed or how many times he is let down, Archer refuses to stop believing that there’s a better part of all of us. He insists to Turok that one day, a good man like Turok will realize MotherGod is evil. If Turok has to kill them this day, go ahead, but Archer implores Turok to take up arms against MotherGod on the day he inevitably figures out MotherGod is an evil deity.
In this case, it works out for Archer, as Turok has had a sense of Archer’s righteousness from the start due to his own connection to the Earth. He spares the duo and goes off to do his own soul-searching, but he realizes MotherGod ain’t the way.
That’s the end of the first three issues of Archer and Armstrong. There’s so much more ahead, but that’s for another day. I can’t get enough of the antics between these two. There’s nothing like the polar opposites in your group of pals that seemingly never stop arguing but also never stop getting along. Here we get to see all of that, plus they are involves in the high stakes world of the Valiant Universe. For superhero buddy comics, it just doesn’t get any better.
Make sure and check out the rest of the SBTU gang at the links below, and hopefully, we’ll see you around here again really soon!