I've always hated Rob Liefeld. When I was growing up, his comics were everywhere; he was celebrated in a way that comics artists aren't celebrated any more, with mindless raves and sales in the hundreds of thousands. And he was the very definition of what a comics artist shouldn't be: His anatomy was terrible, his continuity was nonexistent, he couldn't draw backgrounds or feet. As soon as he left Marvel to go out on his own, he immediately set to work creating thinly veiled analogs for popular properties, basically recreating the worlds of Marvel and DC so that he could profit from them. It was unimaginative crap, and it eventually failed. A couple of his books had some good stretches once he hired other people to take over—Alan Moore and Rick Veitch's run on Supreme was a fun, self-referential take on Superman—but Liefeld's a marginal figure now, doing work-for-hire dreck for DC and coasting on what's left of his fame.
Except, not: A couple of weeks ago, two Rob Liefeld properties, Glory and Prophet were dusted off and re-presented in an interesting new light. Glory, written by Joe Keatinge and drawn by Ross Campbell, doesn't stray very far from Liefeld's idea for the character—her origin, in short: what if Rob Liefeld got all the royalties for Wonder Woman?—but the execution is what matters here. This is a comic written and drawn by two people who know how to make comics. Keatinge's script is solid, but slightly derivative of these kinds of comics; a young reporter tries to find the truth behind the superheroic legend of Glory. As far as introductions go, it's a decent one, but it leaves you hoping he's got loftier goals than intellectual property maintenance in upcoming issues. The art by Campbell is the star here: Hyper-detailed, kinetic, and imaginative. He gets bonus points for making Glory more muscular than Liefeld's Barbie doll character. It's a solid first issue that promises some thrills and—hopefully—some surprises.
From Prophet #21, art by Simon Roy.
But Prophet is good enough to make you grateful for the existence of Rob Liefeld. Writer Brandon Graham and artist Simon Roy leave Liefeld's concept—a big muscle-y guy who screams a lot and uses huge guns, like every other Liefeld concept—far behind and embark on a truly strange sci-fi adventure. John Prophet wanders through an alien world, where monkeys are kept in farms by strange quadrupedal monsters and vomitous biological changes occur on every other page. Not everything is clear (this is a first chapter, after all) but it's utterly unlike every other comic on the stands right now, an imaginative, adventurous story with weird moral choices and its own unique visual language. If you like the sci-fi comics of Moebius, or just sci-fi in general, you owe it to yourself to pick up Prophet. It leaves the past entirely behind.