Promethea was a real little girl who lived in 5th century Roman Egypt. Her father was a hermetic scholar, sort like a magician. A christian mob killed him. Not uncommon back then but the gods intervened, taking his daughter into their world of myth and fiction, the Immateria.
Promethea became a living story, growing up in the realm that all dreams and stories come from. Sometimes, she'd wander into the imagination of mortals. Charlton Sennet, the poet. Margaret Case, the cartoonist and Grace Brannagh, the illustrator. Comics artist William Woolcott and writer Steve Shelley. They chanelled Promethea!
A Fresh New Promethea
The primary Promethea of the series is Sophie Bangs: a college student who comes to know Promethea through her study of the myths and history around Promethea. Sophie meets with Barbara Shelley to interview her for her term paper and is attacked by a Smee - a shadow-like entity. Barbara becomes Promethea to protect Sophie. She then gives Sophie a pen - the wand - to write out prose and poetry to become Promethea.
"I am Promethea, art's fiercest spark.
I am all inspiration, all desire.
Imagination's blaze in mankind's dark.
I am Promethea. I bring you fire!"
As Sophie writes, her body warps into that of Promethea with Caduceus in hand. She then finishes of the Smee and helps Barbara to the hospital since she took hits from the Smee.
She then flies to meet her best friend Stacia at a concert because she cannot fully understand the new power that has been granted to her. The organization that originally sent the Smee, The Temple, hires Benny Solomon to send in two more demons to kill the new Promethea in her infancy. With the power of the Caduceus, Promethea fights off the attackers until they retreat into the Immateria dragging Stacia back with her.
Promethea returns to Barbara Shelley for help and advice, and Barbara provides Sophie with a way to reach the Immateria or, basically, the imagination. While there, Sophie finds Stacia crying with the Weeping Gorilla from the comic books, and she eventually takes Stacia back with her to the physical world.
While in the Immateria on other occasions, Sophie meets the other Prometheas: Margaret Case, Grace Brannagh, and Bill Woolcott. They each teach her how to control her powers in various different ways with knowledge and skill.
When Sophie returns from the Immateria, she finds herself back in the hospital with Stacia, her mother, and a nurse. At this point, Benny Solomon has sent all of his demons into the fray to kill Promethea. Sophie conjures up the other Prometheas to inhabit the bodies of Stacia, her mother, and the nurse so that they can fight with her. Barbara uses her last strength to become Promethea as well and they all fight off the demons until they retreat into the Mayor who has Multiple Personality Disorder. At the same time, The Painted Doll attacks Benny Solomon exploding the two of them with a grenade.
After the fight with all of the demons, Sophie tracks down The Temple only to find a small group of older people claiming that she will cause the destruction of the world. They say that their heirs - a small group of children celebrating a birthday party - will take her down. They first try to stab Promethea with the shaft that killer the original Promethea's father but to no avail. Promethea warns The Temple to watch themselves and provides the children with some entertainment of visual images of children's tales to prove that she is not meant to destroy the earth and instead brings imagination to the physical plane.
With all of the fights and facing the Temple, Sophie decides that she must learn how to use magic better and enlists the help of Jack Faust. In return, he wants to have sex with Promethea. Sophie eventually consents and they have sex on a metaphysical and spiritual level enlightening the two of them. Afterward, Faust provides Sophie with some books on magic for her to study.
On New Year's Even in 1999 heading into 2000, Promethea helps the Five Science Guys defeat a rogue computer gel substantiating herself as not just the embodiment of imagination but a hero.
Sophie then plans on venturing back into the Immateria and beyond, but first she must learn about magic some more. This involves consulting the snakes on her Caduceus named Micke and Mike. Speaking in rhymes, they go through the entire deck of Tarot cards to follow the trajectory of history and the symbolism of each. Along with this new knowledge and some more studying of the books from Faustus, Sophie heads back to the Immateria bringing Stacia along.
She discusses with the other Prometheas her plan to head in the realm past Immateria leaving her post in reality vacant. She then states that Grace - since she inhabited Stacia during the hospital battle - and Stacia can form a bond so that they can fill her role while she is gone. Her primary plan is to find Barbara and help her move in the After.
A Long Journey Past the Immateria
After crossing the River Styx and relinquishing her coin (the representation of Earthly Awareness), Sophie arrives at The Nancy Nox houseboat. Here she meets her Great Uncle and finds Barbara with the figment of Steven Shelley. Leaving to find the real Steven Shelley, Barbara and Sophie leave to reach the Hod Sun Path: the sphere of writers and magicians. While in the Hod, they find themselves stuck on a Mobius Strip: a figure eight strip that continues on to infinity where time and space are morphed.
Eventually, they find the Thrice-Great Hermes, Hoth with the Cynocephalus, and Wotan on an eight-legged horse engaged in Mandrake Play - chess. The gods themselves are made out of a substance that is liquid metal or quicksilver. The Thrice-Great Hermes leads Barbara and Sophie to other inhabitants of the Hod: Aleister Crowley, Doctor John Dee, and Austin Spare.
While Grace/Stacia confronts The Howling, Barbara and Sophie find themselves in the Venusian Sephiroth or Netzach. Through this pathway, they learn that they must surrender to their love and pain in order to accept it and grow towards enlightenment. Eventually the pathway leads them to the symbolic Death. In order to move further on, they must let go of their lower personalities and accept death. Death promptly severs their bodies with The Scythe, and they appear on the other side of Death ready to enter the realm of The Sun or Tiphereth.
Tiphereth represents the highest self and is the space where the human self meets the God Eternal creating a timeless golden place. Sophie explains that "This place is beauty, and Einstein said beauty is truth. What people are here, that's the truth, the beautiful reality. Life's a dream we wake from. Here, we're who we are in our hearts." Eventually Barbara and Sophie meet Barbara's guardian angel, her fifteen year old self going by Boo Boo. Upon seeing the crucifixion of Christ, Boo Boo explains that whether or not Christ existed isn't important, but it is what he symbolizes: the love and selflessness.
Sophie, Barbara, and Boo Boo then head off to the Geburah realm of strength and judgment. After falling prey to the realm's adrenaline inducing anger effects, Sophie and Barbara end up in the Qlippoth with Asmodeus. They eventually realize to not be angry at Asmodeus because the place feeds it back into them. Instead, they become respectful and grateful to Asmodeus. At this point, Boo Boo reappears and leads them to the Tarot Path of Lust.
The group then heads into Chesed where Sophia states that the area makes her feel "like we all have to protect everything, because it's all precious. It's all us." They are then greeted by an old man who seems strangely familiar. He reveals himself to be Promethea's father from 400 AD. He then takes Promethea away from Sophie making her transform back into her normal self. They are then greeted by another man who is named Juan Philippe Estrada. He is actually Sophie's real father who was murdered by his associates after he quit dealing coke. The reunion is brief as they head toward the abyss where Boo Boo and Juan leave Barbara and Sophie to continue on.
In the abyss, the two of them continue to fall occasionally landing in the desert or ocean only to fall again. Finally, they reach solid ground and begin walking past a broken statue of The Beggar within the realm of Daath. Along the way they meet Aleister Crowley again as a woman named Alice. They also meet Austin Spare again near a crooked tower. He drones on as if possessed about the realm acting as the knowledge of the absence of knowledge. Crowley makes another appearance, this time back to his male form, with his former lover Victor Neuberg. The scene of the two of them attempting to raise the demon Choronzon is reenacted in this realm which causes their bodies to tear apart while going through a downwards spiral.
Upon entering the third sphere of Binah, Sophie and Barbara are met by garments hanging in a cave surrounded by moths. Sophie changes into these new garments to once again become Promethea. The clothing is now based upon the Promethea Saturnaides moth with browns and oranges making up the color scheme. Sophie also dons a third eye set in a triangle on her forehead. After traveling through the cave some more, they meet with Dr. John Dee who represents The Illuminati. They had last seen John Dee in Hod. The third sphere most represents womanhood with the world smelling of Myrrh. They eventually meet the embodiment of womanhood and Promethea who states "Virgin I am to they that know me not, and Whore am I to they that know me." Towards the end of the sphere, they enter the path of the empress, endless fertility. Barbara also changes from her older self to her younger Boo Boo self since they have now merged.
Sophie and Barbara enter the realm of wisdom, Chokmah, and the Zodiac where it smells like hashish. Barbara feels instantly compelled to remove her clothes because the place gives the overwhelming desire for sex, but sex on a higher level that she names as "godsex". The place acts as both the beginning and the end - the birthplace of everything. It is also the beginning of the word "I". Once again, they run into Aleister Crowley who is dressed up as a fool sitting on the steps of the great stairs that lead to the highest sphere. Barbara and Sophie feel compelled yet frightened to follow the stairs up to the "irrational leap into the unknown".
The two heroes reach heaven after climbing the stairway where something is nothing and nothing is something. A perfect moment for an instant and for ever. They are in the Kether, the crown. The two of them phase in and out of being fused with God where they see everything and hear prayers in every language. "God is everything, everything is God." After they stop fusing with God, the two of them find Steve Shelley standing and naked. They begin to walk out of the Kether to look down at all of the spheres and realms that they entered. Steve explains the snake and the dove and how the dove falls back to the living. All three of them jump off the edge of the Kether, and, along the way, Steve and Barbara fade away to be reincarnated as twins back in the reality of Earth. Sophie continues to fall back into her body that she left in the park.
Grace and Stacia Make an Impact
While Sophie was away searching for Barbara in the areas past the Immateria, Grace/Stacia make quite the impression on the earthly, reality realm where they defeat all of the new supervillains that have emerged out of The Painted Doll's death. Their style is much more vicious and violent than Sophie's reign of being Promethea on earth. This clearly makes the Five Science Guys very uneasy. Stacia and Grace end up fighting the Five Science Guys because they are preventing them from getting to the Mayor. Upon removing the obstacle of the Science Guys, Grace/Stacia finally confront The Howling with Asmodeus in charge. She eventually realizes that they must accept her sins rather than fight against them. This act of acceptance allows for Grace/Stacia to defeat the demons and rid them from the Mayor. They leave the office just in time before the newly introduced FBI Agents Ball and Breughel interrogate her for information about Dennis Drucker. After the battle, the two of them relax at the end of the Immateria along Route 32 and Grace begins seducing Stacia.
Agents Breughel and Ball continue to follow the trail of Promethea by first interviewing Dennis Drucker who reasserts that he is not gay. They then go to a laboratory to discover the Smee pieced back together in a chamber with the ability to talk. The Smee tells them about The Temple and how it is somehow involved with Promethea. While the agents search for answers and information about Promethea, The Painted Doll returns. He first appears to Bruno Smiliac, the creator of the minor science-villain Jellyhead. Fondling over the jelly mold, The Painted Doll shoots him with his trademark guns. This current death perplexes The Five Science Guys as they try to unravel the possibility of The Painted Doll's Return.
Stacia heads over to Jack Faust's business and becomes Promethea with Grace by unlocking her imagination through drawing a picture. She then demands for Jack Faust to find Sophie in the Immateria to see if she is okay.
Sophie Back on Earth
After Sophie falls back into her earthly body, she returns home to admit the truth to her mother. She tells her that she is Promethea and that she has been gone and went to heaven, and she met her father. She conveys Juan's message that he always loved her. Then, the two of them make amends and hug while crying.
The next day, Sophie heads back to college and greets Stacia. However, Stacia ignores Sophie until she finally confronts her. Stacia admits that her and Grace have been having sex in the Immateria and that she will not relinquish her power as Promethea. The two of them frantically use their pens - wands - to change into Promethea and a battle ensues. The battle is reminiscent of one that happened between two Prometheas in the 1000s where a Christian Promethea met a Middle-Eastern Promethea during the crusades. Like the warring Prometheas before them, Grace/Stacia and Sophie realize the errors of them fighting which ends in a large explosion injuring civilians including Agents Breughel and Ball. The other Prometheas consisting of Margaret, Bill, and Anna, fetch the two other Prometheas and bring them back to the Immateria.
A trial is held to decide who will be the Promethea of Earth. Mr. Philomenus Phrog represents Grace and Stacia while Jack Faust comes in to represent Sophie. After much cross-examination and the judge Solomon being preoccupied with chopping babies in half, it is eventually decided that Sophie will remain the Promethea of Earth. Grace and Stacia tearfully say goodbye with a kiss.
Meanwhile, Agents Breughel and Ball continue to track down the Prometheas. They first go to The Temple to interview them about Promethea. Because The Temple unveils information, the piper comes and takes all of their children away. Breughel and Ball discover at a Limp concert the names of Both Stacia and Sophie. When Stacia and Jack Faust rematerialize back in their homes, they are greeted by the FBI breaking down their doors. Jack Faust goes calmly while Stacia is shot in the shoulder while she reaches for her glasses because Breughel thought that she was going for her sketchpad.
Sophie is next seen a couple of years later hiding in Millennium City under the name Joey Estrada. She works at a movie store and lives a relatively normal life with her boyfriend, Carl. During this time, she has been calling her mother and hanging up the phone. One night, she smokes marijuana and Anna appears to her. Anna reminds Sophie that she has a commitment as Promethea to the world.
Agents Breughel and Ball meet with Tom Strong to ask him to find Sophie Bangs/Promethea who is hiding out in his city. Tom Strong's group confronts Sophie, but Sophie momentarily gets away by hitting Tesla Strong with her bag proclaiming "I'm the end of the world. Please get out of my way." Tom finds Sophie once again on top of a roof and requests just to talk with her. However, a camera crew films her and Strong talking which sets off the FBI. Sophie gets nervous and finally reverts back to being Promethea. The energy expenditure of her transforming back into Promethea sends Tom Strong flying across the building. Promethea flies off and leaves Strong. He decides that he must assemble a team of Science Heroes to stop Promethea from ending the world.
The Coming of the Apocalypse
As Promethea flies closer to New York, everyone's sense of time and place becomes disjointed as various onlookers begin singing "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain". The locked up Smee holds its shape and speaks for the longest it ever has before as it screams out warning everyone that Promethea is coming. Everyone else seems restless, but Jack Faust remains calm knowing that Promethea is soon to arrive. Promethea's arrival is heralded as people exit their homes and take to the streets.
Sophie heads to the holding facility to release Dennis Drucker, Jack Faust, and Stacia along with the Smee. While at the facility, Agent Brueghel goes into a temporal lobe seizure that the doctor thinks is caused by changes in the electromagnetic field. These seizures happen to be affecting hundreds of people within the city. Promethea phases between space with the group being in the holding facility one moment and her mother's apartment the next. Her mother stirs her water with a stick reenacting the cup entering the chalice which causes things to change and get closer to Immateria along Route 32. Stacia actually meets up with Grace again as well as Dennis Drucker meeting up with Bill Woolcott.
In the meantime, the Four Science Guys (since losing a member in 9/11) race back to earth to help stop the apocalypse. However, Marv - the genius of the group - finally deduces that Stan - the mechanic - had actually built The Painted Doll as machines with their own preprogrammed bits and personalities. He then releases all of the Dolls who actually end up destroying themselves except for one. The Painted Doll shoots Stan in the head and then heads off to savor in the apocalypse. The Painted Doll is then greeted by Promethea who greets him.
Thus follows a handful of people who Promethea is waiting for including the Doctor and Agent Ball. In the confusion, Sophie's Dad, Juan, reappears to Trish, her mom; the dead are reappearing. Finally, Promethea greets everyone, every single person as the apocalypse confounds every person as one and then unfolds.
In the aftermath of the Apocalypse, everything seemingly goes back to being the same but not. War and rape do not cease, and some people were confused or did not quite get the message of the event. Nevertheless, the world is a little bit brighter.
Agent Ball left the FBI and since begun a relationship with Stacia. However, Stacia still has an affair with Grace back in the Immateria.
Sophie ceases to be Promethea after already handling the greatest task of any of the Prometheas and being the only one to survive. Her boyfriend Carl moves in with her and her mom, and they watch the twin children Marcus and Cleo - the reincarnated forms of Barbara and Steven Shelley. Carl and Sophie discuss the possibility of marriage. Sophie admits that she rarely goes back to the Immateria because she is happy back on the material world.
The rest of the Prometheas residing in the Immateria discuss how Sophie was brave for bringing on the Apocalypse, but they realize that she will probably never be Promethea again. So, they decide to search for a new one.
Anna was one of the earliest Modern Prometheas who comes from the late 1800s. She was willed into existence by the Poet Charlton Sennet who used his housemaid, Anna, as his muse. Promethea was thus a private affair between Charlton and Anna. Eventually, Anna as Promethea would become pregnant, but she would die in childbirth because her baby was only half-real: part idea, part material.
Margaret Case -
Margaret would don the role of Promethea after writing Promethea into her syndicated comic strip Little Margie in Mystic Magic Land. Her Promethea was primarily known as a figure seen to young men dying in the trenches of WWI. She would help guide the wounded back to where they could get help. After seeing all of the destruction of man against man, Margaret would commit suicide. Margaret teaches Sophie the way of the cup - the way of Compassion.
Grace Brannagh -
Grace began as an illustrator for pulp covers in the 20s. Many different tales were written about Promethea by a variety of writers all going under the pseudonym of Marto Neptura. Grace was also a bisexual during the 20s which explains her later relationship with Stacia. She died after being poisoned by the Night Queen. Grace teaches Sophie the way of The Sword - the way of reason and discrimination.
William "Bill" Woolcott -
Bill would become after writing and drawing a comic book about the superheroine Promethea. Bill would be the only male to ever don the role of Promethea, but it was his imagination that became Promethea not his actual self. Bill's Promethea eventually fell in love with FBI Agent Dennis Drucker who he wrote into his comics as "Dirk Dangerfield". Dennis would eventually shoot Bill in the head after finding out that he was truly Promethea and, essentially, transgendered. Dennis would remain in psychiatric care until Sophie - as Promethea - busts him out. Bill teaches Sophie about The Coin - the material world of spirit, compassion, intellect, and physical existence.
Barbara Shelley -
The current Promethea when Sophie first becomes Promethea, Barbara is the one that has perhaps the closest relationship with Sophie. She first began her tenure as Promethea after her husband, Steven, took over the writing duties on the comic book after Bill died. Similarly to Anna and Charlton Seneet, Steven's writing projects Promethea onto Barbara. Barbara eventually reaches her demise after being cut by the Smee. Before her death, Barbara teaches Sophie the way of The Wand - imagination.
Promethea is the embodiment of imagination, but her powers also extend deeper than that. At least with Sophie's incarnation, Promethea can:
- Has a Caduceus which acts as a siphon for magic
- Communicate with technology through the Caduceus
- Channel Energy
- Utilize Magic
- Exit the Material World into the Immateria