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Sunday, October 16, 2005

The Choice of a New Power Generation

Digital Cable with DVR may actually prove that there is a just and benevolent God. I know this because not ten minutes ago, I was staring in rapturous joy at a Discovery Channel re-enactment of an Egyptian ritual involving human sacrifice that had been dubbed into Spanish. It was beautiful, and I wept.

But there is one thing that I haven't been able to find as I trip the channels fantastic. And that is a comic book starring none other than Prince Rogers Nelson himself.

Fortunately, I already own two.

I've alluded to them before on the ISB, and the fact that they are sheer and unbridled genius, but I feel that the time has finally come to review them in-depth. It's like a Double-Size Dollar Comic Review, but more expensive!

Yep.  Brian Fucking Bolland.
(Click to Purple Rain-size it!)

"Alter Ego" and "Three Chains of Gold"
1991 / 1994
Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Pencils: Denys Cowan / David Williams, Steve Carr, and Deryl Skelton
Covers: Steven Parke ("Three Chains of Gold") and Brian Fucking Bolland ("Alter Ego")

The Plot
Prince returns home from a tour--riding a custom-made purple motorcycle, naturally--only to find that something is wrong in "his city." It gets so bad that he can't even concentrate on producing a new hit record from the greatest band in the world, Morris Day and the Time, so he tracks down the disturbance--heading off a gangwar along the way--and ends up face-to-face with his nemesis, Gemini, who has recently escaped from an asylum. He's essentially Prince's evil twin, but whereas Prince's music is fueled by love, Gemini's is fueled by rage. Also, he stole Prince's girlfriend. That doesn't stop The Artist from knocking boots with her, but as it turns out, she's just a distraction while Gemini uses his hypnotic guitar riffs to take over the New Power Generation and drive Minneapolis into catastrophic riots. Prince swoops in at the last moment to save their mutual girlfriend--Muse--from a deathtrap, and then she seemingly sacrifices herself to save Prince's life.

Then, and I swear this is true, Prince and Gemini have a Rock-Off. Prince wins, Gemini is carted off, and everything turns out okay.

"Three Chains of Gold" is even wierder.

48 Page Giant!"Somewhere in the Middle East," the King of Erech wants to abdicate and pass his power to his hot daughter, Mayte, which cheeses off her evil Uncle. Fortunately for him, the people of Erech will accept just about anybody as their leader as long as they have The Three Chains of Gold, ancient artifacts passed down from Gilgamesh. Unfortunately for him, Prince is in town on tour and Hot Princess Mayte takes a liking to him, giving him her chain for safekeeping as he returns to Minneapolis. Before long, Prince, tired of being targeted by Evil Uncle's assassins, heads back to Erech to help Mayte get the third and final chain, thus cementing her rule of the country.

And what's more, the whole thing's apparently a movie adaptation.

  • Here is, word for word, the opening dialogue of "Alter Ego": "Minneapolis. The long tour is over. Prince is back in town. There is music in everything. Can you hear it? He can." It might suprise you to learn that Dwayne McDuffie didn't take home an Eisner for this issue, which is a frigg'n crime.
  • All told, Prince, who I'm pretty sure stacks up at 4'11" and 94 pounds, beats up like twelve people in both issues--including a team of professional assassins--and he's compared to Batman four times.
  • In the middle of hunting down Gemini, he screeches to a halt at a crowd of people gathered to watch two gangs rumble. A guy named "Raynard" hassles him until he realizes it's Prince, and then offers to watch his tricked out purple and gold motorcycle. Prince then immediately knows that "the two gangs about to bang don't have any beef with each other," and is recognized on sight by the gang leaders, who drop their weapons immediately after 22 words and a stern glare from His Royal Purpleness. Clearly, when he's not busting Middle-Eastern conspiracies and producing unseen documentaries with Kevin Smith, Prince is a pillar of the community.
  • Gemini, who is compared to the Joker, can incite riots and control minds with the power of his rock, takes a shot at Prince with his shotgun, attempts the onstage murder of his girlfriend with a deathtrap, and tries to kill Prince with an electrified guitar before he's finally brought down by Prince and his superior musical superpowers.
  • The New Power Generation? Yeah, those guys are like the fucking A-Team. In "Three Chains Of Gold," we find out that various band members can fly planes, hotwire state-of-the-art security systems, sneak automatic weapons INTO THE MIDDLE EAST, fire said automatic weapons with deadly accuracy, and have deadly aim with throwing knives. Also, much like the X-Men, they enjoy a good game of softball.
  • After crash-landing in Erech, Prince is surrounded by fans who speak no English, but still know to call him "You sexy MF." "Three Chains of Gold" didn't win an Eisner either. Elitist bastards.

Defining Moment

I think we can all agree that the guy who wrote "When Doves Cry" has to have superpowers of some kind. But in "Alter Ego," after Muse sacrifices her own life by grabbing the electrified guitar out of Prince's hands, he is able to resurrect her with the power of his music.

Holy Crap.

That almost makes it seem mundane when it's revealed that the Three Chains of Gold, which, in case you forgot, once belonged to a demigod, form Prince's symbol when they're interlinked.

You know, the one that looks like this: O(+>

And people say ASCII art is dead.

Final Thoughts

Much like Prince himself, these comics are completely insane, but in a way so transcendent as to be great in their own right. It's obvious Dwayne McDuffie's having fun with turning Prince into an analog of Batman, and the stories are just enough over the top to be a heck of a lot of fun. If you can find 'em, pick 'em up.

Besides, it's not like you can argue with that Brian Bolland cover.


Blogger Mon-El said...

I have decided not to kill you for this, the only reason being you (unwittingly?) made a great play on a relatively unknown Prince song (2, actually) with the phrase "channels fantastic".

Also, I quite enjoyed "The New Power Generation? Yeah, those guys are like the fucking A-Team".

And while that comment about Prince being insane should get you a vist from the baseball bat in the trunk of my car, I'll let it pass. Only because I found someone online I can download BOTH Prince and Kylie concerts from, which put me in quite the good mood.

You lucky sack.


10/17/2005 12:52 AM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

You can't see it, but I'm making the talky-talky motion with my hand. Besides, you still owe me The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior, and I think we both know that you're not the kind to leave debts unsettled.

And besides, how much more complimentary could I get, ya frigg'n whiner?

10/17/2005 2:01 AM

Blogger Mon-El said...

*Italian accent* You don' watch it, you gonna lose that fuckin' hand.

I'll bring ya the Warrior DVD tues or weds.


10/17/2005 11:03 AM

Blogger Unknown said...

Man, ego-surfing is fun! I find a reviewer that finally recognizes the sheer brilliance of my, uh, Prince comic books (which not only didn't get the Eisners they deserved, but were mysteriously also overlooked for the National Book Award) but that's not all, I find out that there was a *movie* made from one of the comics? I should type my name into Blogger more often.

Seriously though, thanks for the heads-up on the Three Chains of Gold video. I've already ordered it from Amazon and I can't wait to see if they actually used any of the stuff from the comic.

Dwayne McDuffie

10/17/2005 12:32 PM

Blogger David Campbell said...

That cover kicks all sorts of ass.

10/17/2005 1:14 PM

Blogger Phil Looney said...

Holy Crap! Dwanye McDuffie! That rocks.

10/17/2005 6:55 PM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

It does rock! And thank you, Dwayne, for reading. Prince battling his evil twin and bringing a woman back to life with the power of his rock is easily one of the most fun things I've ever read in a comic. I'd stack it up against the Concrete Earth Day Special (1991 Eisner Award Winner, Best Single Issue) any day... and that's real.

10/18/2005 1:24 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prince's most amazing power is the ability to perform at the Superbowl halftime show and not suck. He rocked the house!!!

2/05/2007 10:37 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL!!! Fun read...


2/25/2007 7:12 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gemini was also the character Prince played in the Batdance video, according to the lyric sheet.

9/03/2007 7:52 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey! What about the interior artwork on "3 Chains of Gold"? It was tough to draw scenarios where Prince looked like he could beat up all those guys....

5/05/2008 3:04 PM

Anonymous Buy Valtrex said...

Prince is a legendary icon, he has not comparison. All what he did should be considerate like the best expression of art never seen before.

10/08/2010 12:41 PM


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