With Proof, the Alexander Grecian and Riley Rossmo Bigfoot tale being put out by Image, switching to a series of limited series format, a la Hellboy, I sat down and re-read the initial 28 issues that were intended to be an ongoing monthly series. While I remembered most of the overall structure of the stories therein, I found that details had escaped me. A lot of that had to do with the inability to keep to the hoped for monthly publishing schedule. Sometimes that was obvious even on the re-read because promised next issues actually showed up a couple issues later. But at least they weren’t tied into some other book that was jumping on from a big reveal that hadn’t happened in this book yet, even though the new launch was on the stands. For anyone considering jumping on to proof with the Endangered miniseries, and I recommend doing so, here’s what happened so far.
The first four issues were the arc entitled Goatsucker. The eponymous character of the arc is also known as a chupacabra. Naturally, these issues lay out the groundwork for the characters. We’re introduced to John Prufrock, the Bigfoot hero of the stories, who was discovered by the Lewis and Clark expedition when he was an adolescent. He was brought back to Washington and stayed with Thomas Jefferson for quite some time. His learning of manners from Jefferson lead to his sartorial habits that he still maintains. Nicknamed “Proof”, he’s a far better dresser than his former partner, Wayne, who schlubs around in oversized sweaters.
Proof and Wayne work at the Lodge, a joint US/Canadian venture in Washington state that houses cryptids. Cryptids are mythical creatures, fables and urban legends that are unable to or having difficulty with surviving in the modern world, overrun with humans as it is. The Lodge’s mission isn’t to capture or hunt the cryptids but to provide them shelter. There are malicious gnomes and fairies, a Dover demon, and numerous others. It’s a large, sprawling facility in a rural setting.
The Lodge is headed by Leander, who appears to have run it since its inception. Wayne cares for the cryptids and doesn’t do field work any longer.
Ginger Brown, an FBI agent, is introduced as a new partner for Proof after she’s saved by a golem (named Joe), during a NYC jewelry store robbery gone bad. While everyone else is hailing her the hero of the event, she steadfastly maintains it was the golem who saved the day. Because of her willingness to believe what she saw over what she’s been told is possible, the Lodge recruits her. During the course of Proof and Ginger’s first mission to seek out a chupacabra, also known as a Mexican Bigfoot, Elvis, a Minnesota sheriff is introduced. He’s the sheriff of the town where the chupacabra has arrived and is killing people. That’s what chupacabra’s do. They kill people, skin them, eat the innards, and wear the skin, which doesn’t deteriorate so that, other than an incision where the skin is re-sewn, the person appears to be the same person who was eaten. The primary clue that it’s not the person any longer is a different voice and language skills, but that’s usually not an issue because the chupacabra doesn’t interact with people who knew the deceased.
This chupacabra is seeking out Proof, which explains why she’s in Minnesota and not Mexico. Mi-Chen-Po has sent her on this mission, having her seek out a bigfoot called Gulliver, which is what Proof was called while working in a circus in the late 1800s.
A lot is going on in these four issues. Grecian and Rossmo really make a firm establishment with this opening arc. Personalities are quickly developed. There’s tension between Ginger and Proof because the latter hasn’t had a partner in quite awhile and doesn’t really want one. As a result, he tends to go off and leave Ginger behind. They also bring on Elvis as an agent at the Lodge after his mother dies from a stroke and is consumed by the chupacabra, who then takes on his mother’s skin. The chupacabra ends up residing at the Lodge and going by the name Nadine, which was Elvis’s mother’s name. Of course, Nadine first tries to poison Proof, but he’s immune to most poisons.
His reason for seeking her out was as much personal as a mission from the Lodge. Proof was alone when he was found by the Lewis and Clark expedition. He’s never met any others of his species. Whenever an opportunity presents itself, he seeks out possible family. This was why Mi-Chen-Po used Nadine to draw out Proof.
The next four issues are the single issue Sabbatical (which is technically part of the Goatsucker arc but seems separate to me) and the three issue The Company of Men. The first is really integral to the latter, so I’m considering them all together. Sabbatical really introduces Autumn Song, an employee of the Lodge who hates the cryptids, and Proof especially. She has numerous advanced degrees but doesn’t get to do field work. Instead she’s been doing administrative tasks. She’s also been torturing and experimenting on fairies and other smaller cryptids.
That’s not revealed in this issue, though. This issue address the pregnancy of a fairy, among whom childbirth is a fatal event. The males of the species are few in number, exceedingly large, and immobile, once they reach a certain age. The females are tiny and indiscreetly carnivorous. Because they’re so dangerous they’re hemmed in by iron, to which they are allergic, and the males and females kept separate to keep their numbers down. However, one female escaped and mated with one of the three males on the property. All the males sit immobile under a larger tree.
The Lodge discovers there must be a pregnant fairy when one of the males is found to be hollow. Apparently the mating results in a dead, hollowed out male. Don’t know if Grecian and Rossmo intended any broader metaphor there, but I’m sure some would argue it’s one that’s on point. The gestation is very short, and the female gives birth by being torn asunder by other female fairies and a bunch of gnomes. Not sure why the gnomes are involved, being a different species. Looks like they’re just as voracious as the fairies, though. I’m not entirely sure why the Lodge was worried, though. Most of the young that fly out after the sundering of the mother are eaten by birds. Only a few survive, one of which is male. They all go to live with Nadine.
During the course of that story Nadine was also having a confrontation with Elvis, who’s none too happy she’s wearing his mother’s skin. Turns out chupacabra’s have some pretty impressive fighting skills.
The Company of Men introduces Col. Dachshund, a former US military man who now spends his time traveling the world hunting down cryptids so he can eat them. Along with his sidekicks, the bookish Lawrence, and the twins who provide obese muscle, he’s currently in Africa, where he has hunted and killed two dinosaurs and is seeking a third, their offspring. He’s also hosting a party to consume the Dover demon and proof. To accomplish this he’s enlisted Autumn Song to take the Dover demon to Africa on a mission that she, Proof, Elvis and Ginger are sent on to find the colonel.
In a bit of triple agent intrigue, a member of the colonel’s staff calls Leander to let him know about the colonel and his activities. This is at the colonel’s instruction to bring Proof and the Dover demon to him. It’s also known to Leander that it’s at the colonel’s instruction, so Proof is aware that the colonel is seeking him out, though not aware that the Dover demon is being spirited along, too. When they arrive Proof is captured, Autumn goes over to the colonel’s side of the matter, and Ginger and Elvis are lost in the jungle with the baby dinosaur. Autumn’s true colors are eventually revealed to all, but not before some tense moments where she has an opportunity to eradicate one of the other agents who is unaware. The colonel and his crew are captured in the end, but Autumn escapes.
The Dover demon has prophetic abilities and tells Lawrence that he’ll be eaten by fairies. Proof breaks the colonel’s leg. With no law being broken in killing cryptids, the colonel and his fellows are taken to the Lodge to be held captive, surrounded by fairies who are only kept out of their residence by a ring of iron. No iron is anywhere within their residence so that they can’t leave by carrying iron with them, which is sufficient to ward off fairies. Nonetheless, the colonel immediately starts his people to work on trying to devise a means of escape.
Issue nine is a standalone called A Perfect Gentleman. It’s really more a transition than a standalone, actually. Elvis and Ginger embark on dating, which leads to Proof and Wayne taking Elvis into Seattle for a makeover. There’s a good bit of playing around by Rossmo, who gets to draw Proof in various hats and Elvis in several suits. Sort of a paper dolls thing. Proof is well known among the clothier set. Elvis loses his Presley inspired hairstyle, too. It’s also revealed that Wayne is gay when Elvis makes an unfortunate joke.
The issue introduces Isabella Bay, a psychologist for the Lodge who doesn’t live at the Lodge. She’s tasked with treating Ginger for her fear of what happened with the golem. The issue concludes with a leap into the next arc with a setting in rural Illinois, a sick boy in bed and his mother leaning out a window asking God to send angels to take the boy home.
Issues ten through fifteen are Thunderbirds are Go. I didn’t remember this arc being as long as it was and was surprised at its languid pace when re-reading it. While Proof is in Illinois, Ginger and Elvis go to NYC to wrap things up with her apartment and her one time boyfriend, Marc, who’s a police officer. She also intends to visit her former police commander, Belinda, but, at the airport she and Elvis are met by an elderly rabbi, who she’d seen when she’d had the incident with the golem previously.
The long and short of her part of the story is that the five of them end up in the sewers looking for Joe the golem, but Mi-Chen-Po has been seeking out Joe, too. He has some cryptid dog-like creatures with him that he sends off to fight alligators that are living in the sewers. This is a problem for the humans because the alligators were attacking them, but the cryptids are just as indiscriminate in attacking. Mi-Chen-Po wants to convince Joe that humans are only out to harm Joe and to come with him. Joe has been cared for by the rabbi’s family for many, many years, though. In the end he decides to go his own way and not go with either the humans or Mi-Chen-Po.
During the course of all that it’s revealed that Marc is an ass and an albino alligator takes his right hand. Belinda ends up working at the Lodge. Issue ten also has a back-up story that reveals Autumn’s torture of cryptids. Issue twelve has a back-up story that shows Nadine is smuggling nails into Colonel Dachshund’s residence. But the main story is the slow part.
Proof goes to Illinois alone. He rescues the sick boy from a giant bird but succumbs to the illness the boy has. The mother belongs to a sect led by a minister whose eyes are gone. They protect this flock of giant birds, which stay around the area because the mother is ancient and decrepit, living in a nearby cave. Because of Proof’s illness he’s first captured by the boy’s mother, but then escapes and calls for backup, but ends up in the mother bird’s cave, with the mother bird outside at the mouth of the cave and the flock circling overhead. The backup consists of Savage Dragon, Isabella and a couple of human agents, one of whom is torn to pieces. Savage Dragon is also torn in half, and much of the story ends up with Proof and Savage Dragon sitting next to each other in the cave while Proof overcomes the virus and Savage Dragon regenerates a lower half of his body (which makes me wonder if the lower half of his body generated a top half so that there was another one of him wandering around somewhere).
That sitting around really drags the story out. That story ends up with a flare gun being shot at the flock, once Proof and Savage Dragon are healed, which somehow sets the entire flock and the surrounding woods on fire, wiping out the thunderbirds. More interestingly, the rabbi and Mi-Chen-Po run into one another in the sewers and each try to convince Joe to go with him. What’s interesting about that is that the rabbi speaks Mandarin.
More to follow…