Review: Promethea: Book Three of the Magical New Series

Promethea: Book Three of the Magical New Series (Promethea, #3)Promethea: Book Three of the Magical New Series by Alan Moore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Promethea three keeps up the quality of the two preceding instalments, while entering into whole new realms. First of all, the art work continues to be superb, becoming even more complex than before. Thus we have a double page spread where the narrative takes place around a Moebius band, and can be read starting from any point on the band, and others which are circular and work in either direction. Moreover, reflecting the shifts in the narrative from one realm to another, the style of the art shifts, so we get art nouveau, pop art, impressionism, surrealism and more, plus extremely imaginative use of highly restricted colour palettes.

As for the narrative: Sophie / Promethea explores the tree of the Sephirot, which is a crucial idea from Jewish mysticism, but Moore manages to graft onto it, without any obvious joins, virtually every mythology under the sun, plus (inspired by Crowley, who has a walk-on part) the Tarot, and yet in which it is not jarring to find Christ as the ultimate symbol of sacrificial redemption. Moore has created a wonderfully convincing theological structure, the exploration of which is fascinating, and gives the art free rein. And throughout, his wonderfully odd sense of humour remains.

My only minor criticism is that I spotted a small historical error: classical Greece was not a time of generally enlightened pacifism, but rather saw what is possibly the most brutal war in Europe’s long and bloody history. But I’m sure Moore knows that, and decided to tell a white lie in order to make his point.

So, on to book four!

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