"When It Blows Its Stacks"
Writer: Alan Moore
Artists: J.H. Williams III (p), Mick Gray (i)
Publisher: America's Best Comics
Prelude, overture, preamble. A fairly scary, doom-laden and engrossing one, but still. Bullets off for frustration. Everything Moore has been hinting at with this current phase of Promethea, everything Sophie/Joey has been running from, that led her to seek the new life in the new town so excellently portrayed last issue, everything the federal agents and Tom Strong fear … still doesn't happen this issue.
I swear, that Alan Moore surely IS a genius. Not only has he gotten DC to give him his own sub-universe to play around with the big concepts to his heart's content, but he's gotten me (with this "Superman/Wonder Woman" crossover of impending epic proportions) to add another of his titles to my pull. Kudos, btw, to the art team for the excellent homage cover; very clever twist on the Ross Andru classic, even down to the lettering. Really funny to put Tom Strong in the Spiderman position, leaving Promethea to fly with Superman's cape.
You've gotta love the mastery of the field Moore evinces here. Not just in storytelling, but in planning the architecture that tie his books/universe together, not to mention all the hints and threads in the main book since it began. This is not amateur hour here, or a succession of creators driven (and wooed away) by market forces after the minimum of issues. Moore has figured out a way to churn out several books of high quality (mostly) per month, and he clearly has future plans as well as elaborate histories worked out for each.
Part of the way he does it, however, is through shorthand like this issue, so reminiscent of the multi-issue journey through the world spheres of the Tree of Life. Here, Tom Strong's pursuit ends Sophie's self-enforced seclusion. Neither he nor the FBI nor the other science heroes nor the other Prometheas nor perhaps anyone or anything at all in all the multi-leveled universes can stop the current manifestation of Promethea (looking quite foxy and butterfly-clad as the legendary prophesied Scarlet Woman of Babylon) from her mysterious Earth-cleansing manifesto of reckoning.
No one except for Alan Moore. Until next issue.
Still, the impending mood of doom is effective. This whole issue is one of those extended sequences of every minor and major power across the universe sensing a "disturbance in the Force." If this were the Avenger's Manhattan, Parker's Spidey Sense would be tingling, Dr. Strange would be scrying into his orb, Jean Grey and Charles would be trying to quell a panic, and Moondragon would be telling everyone how hopelessly doomed they are.
As it's Alan Moore's universe, instead we have the bottled shadow creature babbling in panic; the caged Faust smiling knowingly; Dahlua and Tesla suffering the effects of psychic shock; Sophie's mom drinking bottled water alone; and everyone in New York feeling time displaced and seeing a horrifying glass of water in their dreams.
But all is not lost. Because Tom Strong, having clued in by her crushing dispatch of him that this is NOT the Promethea he knew in the fifties (that would be the self-described "nicest" and longest-running Promethea, alter-ego of artist-writer Bill Woolcott from 1939-1969), makes plans to assemble a team of science heroes. It's time to reconvene America's Best!
Yeah. That'll work.
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