Written by Alexander Grecian
Art by Riley Rossmo
Collects Proof #1-5
Proof takes a simple and often used idea and turns it on it head. Instead of being the hunted, Bigfoot is actually the one doing the hunting. While more the story ends up being more complicated than that, Grecian and Rossmo manage to create a fantastic story based on that simple concept.
Proof is about a US/Canadian sponsored group that operates out of The Lodge in Washington state. Their mission is to act as ambassadors to "cryptids", otherwise known as cryptozoological animals such as Bigfoot. Instead of hunting down the cryptids, The Lodge's goal to save and preserve them at the Habitat, also located at The Lodge.
One of the agents operating at The Lodge is John "Proof" Prufrock, aka Bigfoot. He is the main character and premiere agent at The Lodge. The other early main characters are Leander Wight, the head of the Lodge, and Ginger Brown, an ex-FBI agent and the newest recruit at the Lodge.
All of the characters Grecian introduces are very well developed and he does a fantastic job of presenting the characters and making sure that the reader can get a good feel for them. Proof, in particular, is well fleshed out and is the most compelling character of the group. There are also several other minor characters, human and otherwise, and most are given enough face time so we can get a feel for them as well. All in all, that Proof gets a well developed and diverse cast in its first five issues is a testament to Grecian's skills as a writer.
As for the plot, the trade involves two connected, albeit separate stories. The first half is about Ginger's arrival at The Lodge and her first field assignment with Proof as they go in search for the Chupacabra in Minnesota. This part of the story does a good job of introducing the book and its concepts and characters while still being interesting in its own right.
The second part of the trade deals with the fallout of the Chupacabra mission and brings in some new characters while setting up some future plot threads. The one thing that Proof lacks is action, but not to its detriment. Proof is very much a character driven book, so a lot of action sequences would hinder the story. Finally, Grecian does a great job with the pacing and manages to put a lot of content into those first five issues without making it feel unnecessarily dense.
Artwise, Rossmo is equally responsible for the success of the book. His art is a perfect fit for the title and helps create the correct tone for it, which really highlights Grecian's story. His art is unrefined and scratchy, but in a controlled and stylistic way. In fact, it's really a great fit for the book, though it does take some getting used to. In contrast, an artist like JG Jones, who has a super refined style, would not be appropriate on a book like Proof. Since the title deals with mythological creatures, the unrefined aesthetic to Rossmo's art helps bring the creatures to life in away that an artist like Jones could not. A highly refined style would take away some of the mystique surrounding these mythical creatures. The distinctive but great art on Proof really does add to the overall flavour of the book, even if it is not something that most comic book readers would be used to.
Another distinctive feature in Proof is the Cryptoids - 'fact boxes' that are found throughout the story. They range from necessary to interesting to annoying. Some give you useful background information and tidbits on the various cryptids that show up throughout the book while others tell you the ingredients of hot dogs. Unfortunately, they sometines interrupt the flow of the narrative and can be rather pointless at times as well. That said, they are still part of what makes Proof Proof and I wouldn't get rid of them; Grecian just needs to work out how to seamlessly use them so as to not disrupt the reader's immersion in the story.
Verdict - Must Read. A refreshingly different title that is unlike anything put out by Marvel or DC. Proof is a series that explores new territory while offering quality writing and art. Although some aspects of the title may be acquired tastes for some readers, there is no reason why you shouldn't give the book a try. And, besides, who doesn't like Bigfoot?
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