It’s no secret Marvel Comics produces the most comics every month, which makes it very difficult to read everything. Case in point, the three Prodigal Sun specials, which came out once a month starting in July. They were interesting looking books that all together introduced a new super-powered character named Prah’d’gul. Told across three of the most cosmic of superheroes, Peter David and Francesco Manna may be introducing the next big cosmic powerhouse to the Marvel house of ideas.
This book collects Fantastic Four: Prodigal Sun #1, Silver Surfer: Prodigal Sun #1, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Prodigal Sun #1, focusing on Prah’d’gul, who lands in Savage Land, ends up fighting Galactus, and eventually must come to grips with what has become of his father’s monarchy. Since David and Manna are introducing a new character, they can do whatever they want with him, which makes for exciting turns in the story. The character is some kind of elemental god who can use wind, water, fire, and air to fight. Interestingly, he speaks very casually, which is contrary to the usual super-powered cosmic entities. Over the course of the three issues, we learn a bit about his place, his father, his brother, and a promise for more as his parentage is still a mystery. All in all, this is a clever way to introduce a new character with a lower cost to the reader as it came out.
This reads quite well in the collected format, which makes it hard to believe folks had to wait four weeks between chapters. The branding is also a bit odd since each issue had a title, but the narrative follows a straight line. There are key flashbacks in issue #2, but it follows the same line to the eventual conclusion. Boldly, this book ends in an unconventional way, which says as much about this new character as it does the Guardians who allow Prah’d’gul to do a great injustice. Since the format of this series was so unconventional, I’m actually quite interested in seeing more from this character. Typically in Marvel history, a character like this would pop up in Fantastic Four, drawing some interest and then never seen again for years, so it’s nice to see a burst of a story about this one dude.
The art by Manna, with colors by Espen Grundetjern and letters by Cory Petit, are very clean and quite good at the fight comic motif. True to form, this really is a fight comic, and the art team puts Ka-Zar, the Fantastic Four, Silver Surfer, and the Guardians of the Galaxy to work splendidly. It’s fun, exciting, and clever especially since Prah’d’gul has a different sort of powerset.
While I opined Prah’d’gul’s voice is surprisingly casual, this took me out of the story. As a prince with god-like abilities, it’s somewhat awkward to see him speak so plainly. Maybe this has some kind of tie to his unknown origin, but it might take you out of the book as well. I hate to say it, but Prah’d’gul is also a Mary Sue through and through. The character can’t be defeated, doesn’t even fear a threat like Galactus, and suffers no consequences for his actions throughout the book. Having no discernable background, it’s hard to understand and care about the character.
This is good fight comics, but don’t expect much more out of it. The art is superbly done and capitalizes on the various characters and their powers, but Prah’d’gul could use some healthy back story to give him purpose. As it stands, he’s way too powerful and hasn’t earned a lick of it.
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