Proof Vs. Big

By | Saturday, March 08, 2008 Leave a Comment
Well, a good chunk of the state was hit with a snowstorm last night and today, leaving the roads pretty treacherous. Which meant that my original plans for the day went out the window. On the plus side, I was able to put a dent on some of the reading that's been piling up and that included the first five issues of Proof and the first trade paperback of Perhapanauts. Both titles follow vaguely along behind Hellboy with the notion of the paranormal investigating the paranormal.

The lead character of Proof is a Bigfoot that goes by the assumed name of John "Proof" Prufrock. He's joined up with these paranormal investigators in the hopes that he'll stumble across more of his own kind. His partner, Ginger Brown, is a former FBI agent and their first case is tackling a Chupacabra that disguises itself in the skins of its victims. The latest recruit to the team is Elvis Chesnut, a former sheriff whose mother was killed by said Chupacabra.

Perhapanauts concerns a team consisting of a telepath, a ghost, a Bigfoot, a Chupacabra, and a man who evidently can slip between dimensions at will. Their first mission concerns a Chimera that seems to have popped up in a Massachusetts factory. Both the Bigfoot (called simply "Big") and the Chupacabra ("Choopie") have been zapped with an evolvo-ray, and are pretty savvy to new-fangled technologies.

Superficially, there are few note-worthy differences between the two. Proof himself is the only paranormal creature undertaking missions, while the Perhapanauts crew is primarily supernatural. Further, they also have access to more advanced technologies like jet packs and time machines. Proof and Ginger are limited to technology that you might find in today's FBI.

There's a fundamental divergence in the two series concepts that I think is worth pointing out as well. Perhapanauts seems to take the basis that all of the old legends are essentially true. (That Big and Choopie are team members are only the result of their being hit with the evolvo-ray.) Proof does more to challenge the legends and assumes that some aspects of the myths were taken out of context or exaggerated. Interestingly, it's Perhapanauts with the lighter tone even though it stays more true to the nastiness inherent in the old tales of monsters and blood-suckers. This is also highlighted in the differing artistic styles -- Proof is filled with more solid blacks, heavier lines, and a darker color palette.

I liked the adventure aspect of Perhapanauts. It definitely has a lot of action and visceral excitement that might make it a good segue book if you're looking to move away from traditional superhero fare. That said, I actually liked Proof better because it did more interesting things with the storytelling itself. Several issues actually had different, but intersecting, stories and there's a fair amount done with non-linear storytelling. And where Perhapanauts has more characters with a lot of quick identification, but that quickness is because of some reliance on stereotypes. I expect that those stereotypes will fall to the wayside in further stories, but Proof seems to take a different approach by making the fewer characters more unique up front. I'll continue to read Perhapanauts to see the characters evolve out of their stereotypes, but I'll continue Proof to see who I've already met.

Both books are worth taking a look at. While a quick summary might suggest the two of them are very similar, I think each takes the basic idea in a very different direction and provides very different reading experiences. And that the comic market today can support both books as well as Hellboy (at least so far) is a step in the right direction.
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