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Promethea

Contributed by Ronald Byrd

In Alexandria, Egypt, 411 C.E., a hermetic scholar is killed by a Christian mob. His young daughter, Promethea, flees into the desert and is ushered into the Immateria, the dimension of myth and fiction, by the god(s) Thoth-Hermes. Transformed into a “living story,” Promethea sometimes enters mortal imagination and is channeled into reality by various creative artists, who project her identity onto either themselves or their loved ones and create her persona according to their own imaginative tastes, i.e. a fairy handmaiden, a warrior angel of the trenches, a ruler of a lost continent, etc. The current vessel for Promethea is college student and poet Sophie Bangs, who manifests her as a heroic warrior to battle the various mystic foes who have dogged Promethea throughout her/their career.

It is known that at least one of Promethea’s mortal identities was gay, comic book writer and artist William Woolcott, who both chronicled the adventures of a super-heroine Promethea from 1939 to 1969 and was active as that heroine until he was killed by Promethea’s lover, FBI agent Dennis Drucker, who learned about Promethea’s male identity and was unable to accept it. (Issue #7) Others include Anna, housemaid of poet Charlton Sennet in the 1770s; cartoonist Margaret Taylor Case; fantasy artist Grace Brannaugh; and Barbara Shelley, wife of Steve, who took over Woolcott’s comic book duties. There may have been others that have yet to be seen. As for the present-day Promethea, Sophie’s best friend Stacia van de Veer frequently teases her about being a lesbian, but whether or not this is true is presently unclear.

Promethea has various magical abilities which were still being defined throughout the series. She appears to possess superhuman strength, and she has been observed to fly and teleport, even into other dimensions which she accesses via imagination She carries a caduceus staff from which she can project mystic energy for a variety of effects. Promethea can perceive demonic entities in their true forms even when they are disguised as mortals.

Promethea is created by Alan Moore, J.H. Williams III and Mick Gray. William Woolcott created by Moore, Williams, Gray, and Jose Villarrubia. Art by Villarrubia and Jeromy Cox.

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