Nice two color cover using only green and brown in different shades.
Benjamin Birdie's weblog March 15, 2003 points out that the cover appears to be inspired by Jordan Crane
Unfortunately JHW3 says he's never heard of Jordan Crane so it was just a bad guess.
The letters ME in Promethea are larger than the rest. This might imply the more 'self centered' focus Sophie has chosen in ignoring her larger role as Promethea.
Sophie is working in a Video store.
John O'Neil writes
I think AM put Sophie here to emphasize why, he believes, we need an "apocalypse." The video store, stinking of loneliness, is a place where people rent derivative dreams and scenarios, rather than living them. It is probably demonstrative of how far Sophie has fallen that she mocks the patron for renting "Jelly Jewelery", participating in the general sexual shame that pervades the issue, ( "as a joke, for a stag night," Trent afraid to admit to watching "dirty" porno, Sexualizing your mother is an insult etc.) and the series as a whole from issue one.
She wears an ID Badge and is browsing through a Tom Strong comic (or a comic with a Tom Strong ad in it). She wears glasses and doesn't look very happy. Also on the desk she is leaning on a cup, a cash register with Sorry, NO CHECKS and VISA signs on it. Some pencils also visible.
To the side of the desk chocolate bars (Milky Way and Hitz) and a comic with Tesla Strong on the cover
Philip Graves writes that
You say 'Tom Strong comic' and 'a comic with Tesla Strong on the cover', neither of which (forgive me!) is accurate... she'll be reading a *magazine*, with a Tom Strong feature - Tom is real in this world, so it's fact not fiction. Likewise, the Tesla picture is merely the cover of a magazine, called 'Entertain Yourself', a pun (presumably) on 'Entertainment Weekly', an American magazine.
but don't forget that even if he is real there can still be comic books about him. Remember that Tom Strong Issue #1 actually began with a brand new Tom Strong comic being delivered to Timmy Turbo so Tom does have comic books dedicated to him in the world of Millenium. To quote Alan Moore
"This was also the decade in which the newspapers first coined the blanket term "Strongmania" to describe the vast amount of licensed Tom Strong merchandise available to an apparently insatiable public. Dhalua dolls, spark-spitting Tom Strong ray-guns and, most sought-after of all, miniature clockwork replicas of the adventurer's mechanical companion Pneuman filled the nation's toy shops, while its magazine racks bulged with first with pulp magazines, then later comic books, in which were detailed adventures of Strong and his friends, both genuine and fictional"
Tesla talks Hero Sex
Only visible on the full page version above, on the cover as published onlu Tesla talks... is visible.
I asked JHW3 about censorship on Promethea in general and his reply was
the censorship issue always crops its ugly head when working on Promethea. We are always doing stuff that the "censors" don't like. I'm actually surprised that video box cover at the beginning of the issue (26) didn't get messed with considering that it was porn. same goes for the "dirty" mag on page 23.
Through the window across the street a liquor store can be seen.
On the wall a poster for Beetle Man now on DVD and underneath it some statues I don't recognize
Beetle Man might be a reference to one of Spiderman's enemies the Beetle and there is also a song with a reference to a Beetle Man called Big Ed's Used Farms [scroll down a bit] but I'm not sure if either of these is the right reference
Stately Wayne Manor points out the obvious reference which I've missed namely
it appears to be a little play on the Beatles since the fellow on the poster is wearing a suit like the Fabs wore about '64-'65.
The wall behind Sophie has a poster announcing All New Rel(eases?) Just 99c and below that
Run Johnny Dead and the store pick is
Lola and her Monkey
Below that can be read (...)umshot
Run Johnny Dead might be a reference to Terry Pratchett's Johnny and the Dead
To me the two titles combined make a reference to the German film Run Lola Run (Australian title) known in the USA as Lola Runs. The original title is Lola rennt. I haven't seen it yet but probably someone reading this has
Here is a list of the video titles on this cover as given to me by JHW3
titles of video movies from the cover to 26 are...
run johnny dead
lola and her monkey
impossible p. i.
david and sex
super jerk off
the only real ones are nathan never (an italian comic) and ghostworld (which everyone should know that one)
the rest are made up.
Apparently Steven Spielberg is setting up a live action film of Nathan Never
John O Neill points out that
Amongst the videos behind sophie on the cover is a copy of "Ghost World." I've thought that this has been a major influence on the series since the first issue, but in this issue the influence comes to a head. The choice of fonts on the cover, the duo-tone coloring style, and the panel layouts all reflect an influence from Dan Clowes's Ghost World, emphasizing the 'spectral' and empty shade of a life that Sophie has chosen.
List sent in by Philip Graves
Next to the Hippo Air Fresheners) 'Love Math' (?) (To the left of her hair) 'Matrek' 'Impossible P.I.' ~gap~ ~gap~ 'David and Sex' (Next Shelf, standing upright) 'Monsterama Like', ~gap~ 'Sex Devils' (Flat on the shelf) 'Apple Sour' 'Lust' 'Learnin Curves' [sic] ~gap~ 'Nathan Never' 'Students Love' 'Bettie' (Next along) ['Shape-' and 'Cumsho-'] 'Tempted Women' ~gap~ 'Ghostworld' 'Subs Jerk Off' (?)
(Further along) 'Shipwreck' 'Peepers Time' ['-consex-'???]
Now.. they read to me like corruptions of existing films:
Matrek/Matrix, Impossible P.I./Mission Impossible?,
Then 'Sex Devils' recalls a (DC?) comic 'Sea Devils'...
The sweets at the bottom are 'Hits', not 'Hitz' by my reckoning..
The two basic colors reflect accurately the majority of the comic inside
There is no title page in this issue so I'm just assuming the title is the caption that appears on Page 1, Panel 1
The shortness of the title seem quite appropriate for the content in that almost half of the 24 pages inside have little or no dialogue and so the story is mostly told via JH Williams images rather than Alan Moore's words. Of course Alan has written the script describing the visuals but when we we read a comic we read the comic itself not the script it is based on.
In the drab almost monochromatic world of Millenium City Sophie Bangs is working in a video store but the world here seems to closely parallel our own present political situation. Agents Ball and Breughel are pressuring Tom Strong to find Promethea for the FBI but he is unsure of how to handle the situation. Using his daughter Tesla and Solomon the talking ape Tom finally manages to corner Sophie on a rooftop
“Hmm. Good Fed, Bad Fed. That’s new.” – Tom Strong (being nicely sarcastic) pg. 6
“That doesn’t sound in any way like the Promethea I knew. Maybe you’ve alienated her, and now you’ve come here to alienate me. I have to say, agents, even this administration has had better ideas” –Tom Strong, pg 6
“Aw, man I don’t wanna watch the news. It just gonna be Bush and some more stuff about Iraq” – Joey’s boyfriend
“ I guess. Man, I can’t believe we elected that guy” – Trent
“Thanks. Well, we didn’t elect him! That last election, I heard even the First American was president for an hour or so.” – Joey’s boyfriend, pg. 11
“Mistress Sophie? We would all soonest you return and shoulder once again your fearsome task” – Promethea (1), pg 12
“Mr. Strong we believe she’s planning to end the world.”
“That includes your world. Millennium, and that island in the West Indies” – Agents Ball and Breughel , pg 15
“I just feel there may be forces involved here that I don’t understand. I feel I could make a wrong move and…I don’t know. Cause some disaster” – Tom Strong, pg 16
“Just ‘cause my Dad wouldn’t hit a girl, don’t think I won’t.” – Tesla Strong, pg 21
“I’m the end of the world. Please get out of my way” – Sophie, pg 21
NOTES & ANNOTATIONS:
First the Barbelith Underground Discussion of this issue
Secondly 4th Rail review giving it 10/10.
And here is the Comic Book Resources Forum of #26
Finally for Alan Moore's view of the current state of the world see Arthur Magazine #5 pgs.14-20 entitled Rolling Commentary: Snooty English liberal Alan Moore reviews our government's recent activities
A note from JHW3 about the coloring used in this issue
I just wanted evoke the same feeling that a lot of those alternative comics (eg. Ghostworld) have. The unusual color was done that way for 2 reasons.
1) to show you how sort of flat sophie's life had become by comparison to who she who used to be, by denying her true calling. thats why when she is forced to face her reality full "rendered" color comes back in.
2) is to emulate some of those other comics styles [of alternate comics such as Ghostworld]
Page 1: TL notes that this page might be a hommage to Grant Morrison's The Filth
The scene from Grant Morrison's/Chris Weston's/Gary Erskine's "The filth" is in issue 1, page 2 and 3. The protagonist Greg Feely buys a package of cat litter, a newspaper ("The Sum") and a magazine called "Young sluts - young, randy & willing". When mocked by two young girls, he quits the shop and forgets his change.
Note that the only color on this page is orange.
Panel 1: The birds (crows, hawks?) remind me of Steven King's The Stand. as well as Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds
The Hitchock birds appear on the first and the last page of the book.
Birds seem to have a symbolic significance in this issue
Panel 3: Banana Pam in Jelly Jewelry
Nice joke on the names of pornographic actresses and titles
Panel 4: Cover on the left hand side looks like Clive Barker's Hellraiser.
Killer Flies from Space might be a take on the film Killer Klowns from Outer Space
'Killer Flies..' may also link to 'Killer Moth' the Batman villain.
Panel 5: Millennium City: An apposite place to begin this final book of Promethea if it will deal with the "Apocalypse," called by some the "Millennium."
She's never been seen before, but they mentioned her in the first panel of the Tom Strong story "Electric Ladyland." That story, I remember, was also noteworthy in that it linked the Five Swell Guys to Tom Strong in his discovering Suffragette City.
Quinta sounds like Latin for five.
Thanks for TL for pointing out that there is a "planet Desrault" mentionned in the old Dr. Who comics. The character "special executive" was created by Alan Moore and David Lloyd:
(Dr. Who#57) - Ten years later, the Special Executive (Cobweb, Millenium, Wardog, Zeitgeist) escorted Rema-Du to a negotiations ceremony for Uranium rights to the planet Desrault. These negotiations involved the Gallifreyans, the Sontarans, and an unknown third group.
There is also an interesting homepage about "Millenium city" which is actually the text page from Tom Strong #1 where Quinta Desrault and Lazlo Camphor are mentioned:
"Some commentators have suggested a connection between the immense scale of the city and the somewhat larger-than-life citizens it has produced across the decades. The world-famous operatic diva Quinta Desrault was born as plain Quinta Stevens in the Soupbone district North of Laundry Street, while noted modern "Reality Artist" Lazlo Camphor and heavy weight boxer Johnny Nectarine grew up within just two streets of each other, on Neon Street and Xenon Street respectively. Aside from the great contribution made to culture by Millennium City and its populace, however, it must also be said that the cloud-piercing metropolis has helped produce the greater portion of this century's most colorful and startling criminals. "
Panel 6: Hottest Facial Action
Camphor is An aromatic crystalline compound, C10H16O, obtained naturally from the wood or leaves of the camphor tree or synthesized and used as an insect repellent, in the manufacture of film, plastics, lacquers, and explosives, and in medicine chiefly in external preparations to relieve mild pain and itching.
Dhalua Strong is Tom Strong's wife
Page 2: A few more colors but still very monochromatic effect
Page 3 Panel 1: Dante...Pantr...Distric...49th Level
Was there a 49th level in Dante's trilogy?
Philip Graves writes
I can only find reference to (about) 27 Levels in the Inferno, but presumably the Sign is advertising 'Dante's Pantry', and there are numerous references to similarly named places - perhaps the most memorable might be the 'Devil's Kitchen', which has numerous real places named after it. Also of note would be the synonymous 'Hell's Kitchen' (more easily linked to Dante's Pantry), which is where Matthew ''Daredevil'' Murdock grew up...!
Panel 2 You suck and For a Good time call Beth at another 555 number.
Panel 3: PG writes
The interesting colours here remind me slightly of the film 'Pleasantville', where the background is B/W, while the characters are in colour..
Panel 4: That must be Quinta Desrault's picture on all those TV's
The picture looks not unlike that of "Bianca Castifiore" from 'TinTin' comics
Panel 6: I heart Tes(la) and Level 50 Balloon Boys Rule
Graffiti is slightly reminiscent of graffiti seen in Top Ten. Balloon boys might be a reference to the Zepellin like balloons that navigate the airspace in Millenium City
Page 4 Panel 1: Sophie's boyfriend is reading Aeon Magazine with Tesla on the cover.
AEON is a journal of myth, science, and ancient history specializing in archaeoastronomy and.comparative mythology.
He has a scarab beetle on his left arm and is drinking Fizz Beer
Several people have mentioned that he looks not unlike Sophie when we first saw her and also bears a resemblance to her father seen in Issue #19
Panel 2: He also has a snake tattoo on his right arm
Panel 3: Nice green color rather like Issue #16 Love and the Law set mostly underwater
Panel 4: the advertising in the background ("STRONG Value!") is a first announcement of Tom Strong's presence, we have his name and his symbol, the triangle pointing downwards. The triangle is also the symbol for Binah and the highest female principle (see # 21).
Panel 5: Brink Hinkley could be a reference to famous radio personaltiy Gordon Hinkley unless someone knows of another famous Hinkley in broadcasting
Saveen Technology - Paul Saveen is Tom Strong's arch villain enemy except for Tom Strong 20-22 which tell the story of Tom Stone where they are friends in an alternate timeline
Page 5: Menacing helicopter and a crescent moon in the sky after the sex panel reminds me of something. Perhaps Orwell's 1984 (The John Hurt, Richard Burton film version)
Panel 1: The snakes head looks not unlike Rorschach's face mask from Watchmen...
Panel 4: FBI pilot approaching Tom Strong's Stronghold headquarters
Panels 6 and 8: Lucille seems to have hair shorter while Karen's seems longer. It's been 3 years since the last time we saw them
Panel 7: This is King Solomon the talking ape with the quaint English mannerisms from Tom Strong not to be confused with Weeping Gorilla who fails to make an appearance in this issue of Promethea
Panel 8: The two of them look not unlike Delirium and Desire from Neil Gaiman's Sandman...
Page 6 Panel 1: TL notes that the background in this panel looks like a Jack Kirby design
Behind Tom Strong we can also see Pneuman his mechanical robot helper
Notice also that Pneuman's holding a lightbulb, which is *on*...
Panel 2: '...new anti-terrorism laws..." - sound familiar to all you US residents.
Panel 3: America's Best is not only the name of the supergroup but also the Wildstorm subsiduary which publishes Alan Moore's America's Best Comics or ABC for short
Page 7 panel 2: The childrens abduction being referred to occured on pgs 12-13 of the previous issue #25 and it was the Pied Piper not Promethea who actually abducted them so presumably they aren't dead but somewhere in the Immateria
Panel 5: Tom Strong hasn't seen Promethea since 1963.
Now why does that date sound familiar?
Page 8: Back to the orange color of the first page once again.
Panel 1: In the background a shop called Argento's. Perhaps a reference to horror film director Dario Argento
Walking up the stairs just ahead of Sophie are 4 young members of the Strongmen of America
(Timmy Turbo, the Muntz brothers: Mason and Fortnum, Sue Blue).
They're not drawn in their usual Chris Sprouse Style, but it's undoubtedly them.
Panel 6: Interesting that the blue colouring only arrives when she cries - are the colours reflecting her mood...?
Note the bird that flies off when Sophie makes the call
Page 9 Panel 1: Lone Wolf. There is a 1988 film with this title but it sounds pretty bad.
Lone Wolf & Cub also already exist as films, a series of which were made in the 70s, and it seems there are TV series as well. Kozure Okami
and the comic called 'Lone Wolf and Cub' is being adapted into a film due for release in 2004
(Two more chocolate/candy bares - '-risp' and 'Hots' Poster advertising 'Star Bike(s)'..?
Perhaps a reference to the Speedster racers from Return of the Jedi
Panel 3: Paulie Walnuts is a character from The Sopranos
Panel 4: Michael Imperioli is an actor who has appeared on The Sopranos and Spike Lee's film Summer of Sam
Page 10 panel 3: The First American is a caricature of Superheros who appears in Moore's Tomorrow Stories
Panel 4: 'Blond Chick' would be USAngel, who's the First American's sidekick in Tomorrow Stories.
Panels 6 and 7 Nice segue of Promethea making an appearance that only Sophie can see. She makes a nice change from the shades of blue that dominate these 2 pages
Page 11 Panel 2 : "This is not a drill" - warning given when an alarm goes off to ensure people don't think it's just a practice run but the real thing. Fire, War, Armageddon, whatever
Panel 3: "Someone's going to catch it when Mom gets home" - I'm guessing she's referring to Babalon as Promethea's spiritual mother rather than Sophie's actual mother
John O'Neill writes
Bill wants Sophie to know "When mom comes home...". Sophie (self-interested, justifying the "ME" in the cover title) assumes it's HER mother. In all probability it's the Mother of all of us: the highest female aspect. Note that at the same time Trent and Sophie's boyfriend are exchanging "Mother" insults.
Panel 5 Millenium Mauve. Presumable the drug they've been smoking. Mauve is an important color in magic. See Kenneth's Grant Beyond the Mauve Zone and other titles
Also The Tom Strong #1 Text page beginnings:
"It was in the 'Mauve Nineties' at the end of the last century..."
Panel 6 Doesn't look like Sophie is going to get much sleep but she certainly has vivid dreams as we can see on
Page 12: The first page where regular panel borders are replaced by JH Williams almost trademark irregular border panels.
Panel 1: Color and image recall to mind the Daath Issue The Stars are But Thistles
Panel 2: Painted Doll firing at point blank range straight at the viewer (Presumably Promethea)
Panel 3: A strangely neutral image on its' own but given sinister overtones by the preceding panels. Obviously a photograph rather than a JH Williams drawing.
The picture was put together digitally by JH Williams and his wife Wendy.
What can I say about a glass of water that is half full and half empty with a strange yellow orange color
I'm assuming it's water but that's only becasue it's translucent
Panel 5: The two faces of Shakespeare are of course Comedy and Tragedy
Entertain Yourself Magazine - would you buy a copy of this?
Page 13 More birds as Sophie makes another phone call to her mother watched by Tom Strong
Page 14 panel 6: The portraits on the wall are of Tom's parents Sinclair and Susan Strong and his first girlfriend in Millenium City Greta Gabriel. At the far right we can Jonny Future from America's Best
Jonny Future appeared in Tom Strong #14, and they referred to him being a member of America's Best then. Jonny is Jonni's uncle, and left her the house - with the portal into the future - in Tom Strong's Terrific Tales #1.
Page 15 Panel 1: Portrait shows JF, Cobweb, Splash Brannigan, Tom and Promethea. America's Best superhero team
Jonny Future who is male should not to be confused with Jonni Future who is female and appears in Tom Strong's Terrific Tales
The coloring of this issue and especially this portrait of an old Superhero team that doesn't exist anymore reminds me of Watchmen
Panel 5: The Fat Lady. She's going to sing. - It ain't over till the fat lady sings is an old cliche about Operas
John O'Neill writes
One of the most interesting themes in the issue. Ties together Quinta Desrault (an opera singer), The Apocalypse (It ain't over 'till) The Sopranos (taken as 'opera singer'), "She'll be Comin Round The Mountain" (return of the mother goddess at the opening of the 32nd path?). I wouldn't be surprised if AM used the lyrics to "She'll be coming 'round the mountain" to end the series as a whole. That is, in the last issue, when the "Apocalypse" arrives, I'm guessing everyone will be singing "She'll be comin' 'round the mountain" or something.
She'll be comin' 'round the mountain is a famous folk song or nursery rhyme
Page 16: Sophie spies Tesla Strong waiting at her regular phone call phone and doesn't make the usual call
Note that the old lady and man in the wide brimmed whose face cannot be seen were also shown when Sophie made her first phone call. We might be wrong but John O'Neill and I are guessing that this might be the Painted Doll in disguise
Page 17: Solomon awaits at her regular workplace and she starts to panic
Pages 18-19: Tom Strong finally catches up to her but she is still running away even though he says he's trying to help.
Page 20: Tesla make a heroic entrance but...
Page 21: the glass appears even more menacing now with more of its background visible but how does it signify the end of the world. There have been various guesses from numerous readers about it's significance. The most obvious one being that it recalls to mind the glass in Jurassic Park which starts to rattle when the dinosaur comes near. For me that's become a bit of a cliche by now and I don't think that's what Alan is referencing but I could be wrong.
Another reader writes
I couldn't figure out why Sophie (and Tesla) would find a half-filled or -empty glass frightening... it didn't connect to any mythological or archetypal images that I could recall. So I showed it to my wife, who is a Jungian pscyhoanalyst, and a little better at these things. She said, "Eeew -- there's a scary face!" Not quite what I expected, but sure enough, after she pointed it out, I saw it
what I THINK I see (or what I think my wife saw, I'm not sure because now she shrieks in horror and runs to another part of the house whenever I raise the topic) is two round white beady eyes on either side of the top of the band of the reflection, with a long hump between them like a nose. On the bottom of the band of the reflection there seems to be a row of little teeth.
I can't actually see the face myself but maybe I'm not looking hard enough. Will ask JHW about this
Only Alan Moore can tell us what it really means
Panel 5: Chukulteh is the god of Attabar Teru Tom Strong's birthplace.
Page 23 The cleaner is singing the refrain from 'She'll be coming round the mountain when she comes'
Panel 9 At last some color starts to emerge on Sophie's hair
Page 24 Finally a full color page that we've been missing for the previous 23 pages and finally the credits for this issue appear. The birds flying out of the page remind Philip Graves of the drawings of MC Escher.. To me it is more reminiscent of Hitchcock's The Birds
NEXT: When Titans Clash! When Worlds collide! When it Blows its Stacks!