Thursday, August 5, 2010

Amaterasu: Return of the Sun

Amaterasu tells an origin story in the Shinto tradition. It tells of how the gods Izanagi and Izanami created Japan and its gods. Amaterasu is one of their children, along with her siblings Tsukiyomi and Susano. They each have their areas to rule, she the day sky and sun, Tsukiyomi the night sky and moon and Susano the seas, storms, and underworld. In this version of the story, Susano feels he has been given a poor position in his father's world and rages in anger, causing his sister to hide. Her absence plunges the world into darkness and misery, and a band of crafty gods hatches a plan to draw her back out into the world.

This graphic adaptation was published under the Graphic Universe imprint of the Lerner Publishing Group. It was written by Paul D. Storrie and drawn by Ron Randall. Storrie is a long time comics writer, specializing in adventure stories based on classical myths and legends, but also dabbling in monster and superhero stories. He is a frequent contributor to Graphic Universe's line of Myth and Legends books. Randall has drawn comics for decades and has worked for all the big companies. He is best known for his work on fantasy and sci-fi books, such as his original series Trekker and licensed Star Wars adventures. Currently he is working on DC Comics' Doom Patrol.

The creators at Graphic Universe are all industry professionals who put out well drawn, sometimes beautiful work, and the reviews have been largely positive. I had a hard time finding reviews for this book, and Good Comics for Kids liked the book well enough, finding it a good alternative to "the dusty old tales" typical of myth books. In all it is a well-told, well-illustrated tale that many US students would be unfamiliar with. Also, I feel it would make for good comparisons with other origin myths from different cultures. The book also contains a few educational features, such as a map of Japan, a small glossary of terms, and a brief explanation of what Shinto is.

A brief preview is available by clicking on the cover image on the book's official page.

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