Hercules: The Thracian Wars 1 of 5
By Andy Doan
May 13, 2008 - 5:20
Writer(s): Steve Moore
Penciller(s): Admira Wijaya
Colourist(s): Sunny Gho & Skan Srisuwan
Letterer(s): Todd Klein
Cover Artist(s): Admira Wijava & Darren Tan
22 pages, US $1, CDN $1
I have to admit to being a bit biased about this book. I knew that I was going to enjoy it long before I read it. A few months ago I was wondering why there wasn't more books based on mythical heroes (Hercules being the most obvious). There is aninfinite range of stories that can be told through semi historical figures without copyright or continuity to worry about. A modern retelling for some of these ancient super heroes is long over due.
One of the things I like about this underpopulated genre is the fact that it forces an author to tell a more intelligent story. To put themselves in the minds of the characters writers are forced to move beyond the schlock present in so much of the material set in current times. How do you portray a death obsessed woman who lives thousands of years prior to the invention of the goth culture? Well beyond that is the question of how would these people speak? More importantly, how would they think?
In this issue all of these potential problems are addressed seamlessly. Every character, every speech and every action fits perfectly within the cultural theme of the story. The pace flows like all good comics should, just like a movie. Text is used sparingly throughout adding to the momentum of the story. The ending is abrupt and leaves you begging for more.
Though the narration you are given a glimpse into the mind set of these ancient warriors. Greek people at this time were considered polytheistic meaning that they had many gods. They believed that it was the gods that moved them to do different things. Moods and desires were forced on them by the gods as if they had no control over their personal actions. This belief system seems to be carried by most of the characters in this book and to a degree that it is entirely convincing. This is the most rewarding part of the story to me. I'm tired of modern writers trying to attach contemporary styles of thinking to non-contemporary characters. It's much more interesting to see these people behave as they might have during this era.
The art work is well balanced against the narrative. Hercules is not meant to be an icon and as such he's not displayed as one. In fact for most of the book you never really get to see a clear view of his face. Most panels are darkened and blurry with only light attention being paid to the background scenes and characters. Action scenes are smoothly handled and filled with just enough gore to let you know things are serious. The main characters are designed in such a way as to be easily followed from panel to panel no matter how fast the action gets. I'll have to admit to letting the art take a second seat to the story on the first run through. When I had a little longer to spend I found the use ofsubtlety over style to be integral to my enjoyment of the book.
You'll likely be able to tell that I highly recommend this title. With having read only one of the five in the series I'm yet to assign it "Legendary" status. I'm willing to admit that there is a lot that could go wrong from here on out. Having a great idea alone doesn't provide immunity. I will say that everyone that enjoys a fresh approach and an exciting story will get something out of this book. If nothing else you'll enjoy the $1 cover price on thepremier issue.
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