It’s hard to know what to expect regarding reboots because I think the general definition of the term for comic books is more fuzzy than it is for comic book-based movies. With movies, it seems to mean that when the creative team wholly changes (mostly meaning just actors and directors), and the new flick is not based upon previously filmed continuity, then it’s a reboot. This is what happened with Batman Begins, sort of what happened with X-Men: First Class, and is arguably happening with the upcoming The Amazing Spider-Man (and, please god, be the case for Transformers). Creative teams in comics, however, change guard all the time, and it is expected that whatever comes next respects what was published before. So, when timelines get too convoluted or marketing brains believe that the comics on the stands are impenetrable to new readers, the bigwigs announce via an unsubtle press release that a certain book or line of books is getting rebooted. In fact, continuity seems to be such a majority shareholder in comic books that a title that keeps the same creative team but abolishes all previous story ties could classify as a reboot, too.
|A page from Prophet #21, art by Simon Roy|
If a character or brand is honestly outdated, simply starting over again from issue #1 isn’t going to do the job, and neither is increasing the contrast in the art, adding curse words, filling pages with more violence, interspersing a new adjective into the title, or merely updating the popular culture references. That’s just a new coat of paint on a car that can’t pass a smog check. Though it may not meet well with die hard fans or core audiences, it seems generally beneficial that the term “reboot” should be a more severe action. Instead of just being a challenging of the previous continuity, a reboot should challenge the very concept of the character. What if the title of the main Batman book were to remain the same, but the very idea of Batman and how the character is represented within were completely and utterly new? What if Bruce Wayne, the Joker, Gotham City, and the gadgets were all gone?
While rebuilding from the ground up a property like Batman would undoubtedly bring mutiny, I am quite impressed with how Image Comics has truly “rebooted” one of their properties that had lapsed into complete obscurity.
|Prophet #1, from 1994, on the left; Prophet #21, from 2012, on the right|
|Thankfully, tastes change|
It has been twelve years since the last solo Prophet book hit the shelves (with its third #1 issue, no less, though it didn’t last any issues beyond that), and at the end of last year I was as surprised as anyone to hear that it was going to be “rebooted” for 2012, the 20th anniversary of Image Comics. My expectations were low not only because I was slightly familiar with the original property, but also because of a familiarity with how comic book reboots work. All I could see was another #1 and a creator banking on a surge of mid-90s nostalgia. However, the John Prophet found in Prophet #21––released to stands in January––is unrecognizable. By my estimation––aside from the numbering (which is actually new, none of the previous iterations lasted beyond issue #10, they just combined them all) and the book’s logo, Prophet is a reboot in every sense of the word.
|Two Prophet 2-page spreads, 1995 and 2012|
|Plus, sex with gross aliens is awesome|