- Posted by Johanna on May 13, 2010 at 9:02 am
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: written by Steven Grant; art by Scott Bieser
- PUBLISHER: Big Head Press; $12.95 US
Noted comic writer Steven Grant (The Punisher) turns his jaded view of the world on classic mythology, retelling The Odyssey with a distinctly modern air.
This Odysseus just wants to get home, but not out of love or loyalty as much as fatigue. He’s tired of war, of travel, and most of all of the gods. The book starts with his vision of Poseidon, where he calls the god a “self-serving thug”, like his compatriots. He sees through everyone’s illusions to concentrate on reality, which is what makes him so good at outwitting others. He knows how people really behave and what they really want, regardless of what they claim, and that applies to the gods, too.
The art matches the story well, with a slight touch of caricature that exaggerates reaction and concentrates emotional expression in the eyes. It was designed in black and white, so the reproduction is solid, and the stark contrast suits the big emotions and events of the tale.
The book is funny and pointed, especially enjoyable for those who distrust big sources of authority, like kings and gods. At times, the book has the sex and violence of something like CSI or Spartacus, as heirs are threatened or alliances made through who possesses which woman. Odysseus’ philosophy is summed up by what he tells Circe as he leaves her island and bed.
“Tell him I accepted nothing from the gods — no gift or punishment.
Tell him we are more than toys for gods, to break and discard at their whim!
Tell him his father wrote his own story and saw it to the end.”
In response, the gods wish they had killed him, because he is a new generation, the sign of change to come, the portent of their downfall. The end, where he faces up to the results of his reunion with clear eyes, couldn’t happen any other way, but it’s still heart-rending, facing the ravages of time.
You can still read the comic online for free if you’d like to sample it yourself, and I think you should. (The publisher provided a review copy.)