Proof returns. Will it live up to its subtitle or its pedigree?
Credits & Solicit Info:
Written by Alex Grecian
Art by Riley Rossmo
Colors by Frank Zigarelli
ENDANGERED,' Part One THE CULT HIT SERIES RETURNS! A mysterious organization threatens The Lodge, and John 'Proof' Prufrock is on the run, hunted by the government he once worked for. He has found information that, after 200 years, could finally tell him who he is and where he came from, but he has to turn for help to a teenager who claims to own Proof's body! This is where it begins all over again!
When Proof first hit the stands a little over three years ago, it took me by surprise. What was at first merely a police procedural starring a monster or two, quickly became a character drama with a mythology as rich as Mignola's Hellboy. What made it all the more enjoyable was that unlike Mignola's masterpiece, it didn't feel like you needed a PhD to understand it. I'm not saying it's dumb, by any stretch. I still don't quite get the miniature monkey. Thing is, it's a monkey and small, so... who cares?
Seriously, Proof quickly became one of my favorite reads. Eventually, I even became to understand what a great artist Rossmo was. I found a warm and welcoming online community of fans that even lets me stop by to this day, even if I don't near enough. Well, that's the thing with this book... it feels like home. It takes all those hours of watching Leonard Nimoy narrate mysteries that general science ignores and fascinates while scaring the daylights out of future skeptics and throws in a bit of a crime drama and whips them up into a cocktail of pop culture bliss.
It helps that the book is ably written by Alex Grecian. His attention to detail is evident not only in the cryptids, but in the clues he drops along the way in each story, as well as the world he and Riley have built. Sure, as with any artistic endeavor there are things that hit or miss. Many fans were puzzled by the Thunderbirds arc and Julia received lots of criticism for its decidedly different take on the comic's modus operandi. For me the misses are slight and certainly no worse than grand experiments by Moore or Morrison that fail to capture everyone's imagination.
The first volume ended with revelations aplenty. Here new mysteries are unfolded in what would appear to be a very new reader friendly issue. Of course, it does say #1 on the cover... so it should be expected that new readers would be on board. It's clear that this story relies on what has happened before, but there is great care to show the story here as its own and I think it works. Honestly, that is something only a new reader can tell you. It doesn't seem impenetrable to me and enough information is given in recap style pages and in story writing to make it seem accessible.
And the revelations don't stop at the end of the volume now called Blue Fairies. The last page here is as fine a cliffhanger as the series has ever had, which is saying something coming after the end of volume one. In fact, that ending only makes the end here more exciting and mysterious.
The plot hasn't changed much from the first volume. Proof, a Bigfoot agent for a government service, wants to find his family. The method may be a little different now. No longer chasing urban legends across the globe, he has direct evidence of ancestors and is willing to go see some seedy elements about it. Meanwhile, the kind of crime his agency lives for is going down in Little Tokyo.
On the art side, Rossmo delivers what we expect from him and more. The manic character of his work on Cowboy Ninja Viking can be seen here. There are interesting things happening with panel layout that create a more enriched reading experience. Instead of merely competently telling the story, he has risen to the challenge of accentuating the story... the tension become palatable in his choices. The emotions of characters more visible. The action of the book is better conveyed. He has finished his journeyman work and we see the master artist emerge.
Dave Casey's brilliant colors as first seen in that divisive Julia arc are gone and sorely missed, but Zigarelli seems better suited to the grimy feel that this book has taken on with its new subtitle.
Endangered fires on all cylinders. It would be a shame if it lived up to its title.
Review by: Lee Newman