Overview

Troy Done Right

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Before I get started, I wanted to reiterate one of the little reviews from last week, Azad’s A Very Sammy Day was one of my favorite reads of last week, and while the price tag may seem a bit steep, it’s a great read, filled with some great jokes, plenty of action, and the work of one of the best young creators in the industry right now.  I can’t recommend jumping on the Azad bandwagon fast enough! Oh, and also, I highly recommend Sean McKeever’s Mary Jane from Marvel.  It’s a wonderful little book, with a pretty unique twist on the world of Spider-Man.  Moving on…

Did you go see Troy?  Did you like it?  Maybe that’s the wrong way of putting it, as most people seemed to be lukewarm on the execution and Brad Pitt flavored plot.  Well, what if I were to tell you that this period of history is probably one of the most interesting, exciting, and rife for storytelling ever?  AND, what if I told you there was a comic book that does one of the most accurate and breathtaking portrayals of this period?

Eric Shanower’s Age of Bronze is a massive retelling of the Trojan War, cobbled together from massive research of all interpretations of the time period, both Homeric and historic, to create the most believable account of what actually happened during the ten years of war. 

To say that a feat like this is unheard of in modern comics is an understatement, but the real achievement is that the book is actually fabulous.  It’s rife with action, romance, politics, suspense, drama, and comedy, gliding the reader through its massive story with more in common with Indiana Jones than a History class.  Yet, there’s an air of factuality about it all, which Shanower talks at length about in the afterword to the first TPB, “A Thousand Ships.”  This week sees the release of the second part entitled “Sacrifice.”

Shanower’s superb handling of the era combined with a unerring sense of forward motion, sometimes jumping forward days and months at a time for the sake of the narrative, create a story that’s equal parts personal drama, epic, and adventure story.  He also manages to deftly handle the politics of the era without diluting the delicate balance between these egomaniacal kings on the verge of (and eventually in the throes of) war.  Best of all, whether you’ve read other works in the period (or sat through Troy), or whether you don’t know Achilles from a hole in the ground the book is wholly enjoyable.  Shanower rephrases things from the Iliad into a non-supernatural bent, yet, still maintains many of the visions and conversations with gods in a much more grounded a unique way.  He uses dream sequences, serendipity, and sheer accidents to “explain away” many of the more fantastical elements of the source material, which again, gives it a nice historic veneer that’s often missing in retellings of the war.

And then there’s the art.  Shanower might just have been put on Earth to draw this book.  His art captures the definitive feel of the era while still being thoroughly modern in terms of composition and structure.  His line work is some of the most lush and express in comics today, each line filled with utter perfection.  It’s books like this that should be setting the standard for modern art.  It’s stylistically wonderful, with precision and detail, but not too much as to muck up the page or interfere with the story telling.  There’s love etched into every single one of these pages and it can be felt in every drop of ink.

The packaging of the trade of the trades is the other big selling point for me.  Beautiful design and a much nicer paper stock than usual for a black and white book, with some really comprehensive notes section, including all of the reference material that Shanower used to build his version of the legend.  It’s really outstanding to see all of the care and thought that went into the tome in your hands.

GUIDING LINE: Forget Troy, Age of Bronze is the definitive look at the Trojan War, with some of the best story-telling and art in all of comic-dom.  Pick up the second trade which is on sale this Wednesday!

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