Saturday, March 30, 2013

Poseidon: Earth Shaker

In this fifth book of his excellent Olympians series, George O'Connor tackles the mercurial god Poseidon. The ruler of the oceans and seas is a complicated figure, which reflects his relationship with humanity. He offers gifts and an avenue for travel, but he also is extremely dangerous and prone to lash out in anger. His children are almost all monstrous (some outwardly like the Cyclops, others in more guileful ways, like Theseus). In many ways the portrait O'Connor paints of him here is very passive aggressive: he appears amenable and friendly until he snaps and becomes vengeful, creating earthquakes and tidal waves for those who offend him.

Like other volumes in the series, this one also makes overtures where the Greek gods are likened to superheroes (or was that vice versa?), and I was impressed by how much continuity creating there is. Multiple myths, such as the stories of Odysseus, Theseus, the revolt against Zeus, and the founding of Athens, are all reconciled to try to create a larger picture and personality for the god. Also, this book makes more direct references (noted in the excellent endnotes) to other books in the series than I have noted in the others, and O'Connor seems more purposeful in creating a vast tapestry with all of these books.

Artist/writer George O'Connor has created a number of graphic novels in addition to the well received Olympians books about Zeus, Athena, Hera, and Hades. His first one was the American history journal account Journey into Mohawk Country. He also has published a number of children's picture books. He speaks more about his work on the Olympians series in this interview with the School Library Journal.

Like other books in the series, this book has been met with praise. The reviewer at Kirkus Reviews wrote that it was perhaps "not the best volume with which to start this first-rate series, but rousing reading for comics fans who like their heroes heavily muscled, unhappy and occasionally splashed with blood." Teacher Mary Lee noted that the Olympians books were very popular in her classroom and extolled this book for "the combination of great art and good storytelling."

A preview and more is available here from the book's publisher, First Second.

Thank you, Gina, for the review copy!

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