Ante Genesem vol.1: The Prophet (Humanoids, 2002) – Xavier Dorison

2 out of 5

A typical Humanoids book generally sets itself up pretty well with an intriguing premise, then bolsters its profile further via entrancing art, made all the more appealing by the over-sized album printing.

Ante Genesem is a pretty typical Humanoids book.

Jack Stanton is some kind of vaguely defined scientist / explorer guy (you know the archetype – professional initials after his name, random statements proven by preceding it with “the only logical solution is…” and the like, a.k.a. the No Extra Research Necessary, Fill-In-The-Plot-Blanks Smart Guy) who, with some elder science / explore guy, finds a cave… somewhere… with an ancient building that were promised is a momentous discovery.  Elder Guy promptly dies with cryptic warnings on his lips, and Jack goes on to proclaim that their discovery will change everything.

Later, someone else says something cryptic, someone tries to kill Jack, Manhattan begins to burst into flame and crumble, and then a demon chases Jack across an alien landscape.

Woop woop.  Certainly I’m reciting this flightily, but the initial fast-paced setup for the explosions and demons bops along with passable comicy cheekiness, and Matthieu Lauffray’s art has a nice balance between the expressiveness of, say, Duncan Fegredo and the more light-hearted touch of an Image book like Shutter or something.  So it shifts between the grand scale and character work pretty well, and Lauffray’s imagination adds plenty to the other-wordly scenes.

Alas: There’s just no heart.  There’s no character work done to make us care much about Stanton; he’s nowhere near being a convincing scientist, making his revelations awful dumb; and there’s zero sense of build regarding the cataclysm: People freak out one panel then make a yuk the next, and just under-react to things in general.

Cookie cutter sci-fi.