Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Some Greek Myths and Legends

I have reviewed a few titles from The Graphic Universe imprint before, and they make nice, affordable products that are available both in sturdy hardcover and economical softcover. They also offer e-versions of these books. This week, I am going to look at a few more of their offerings.

The writers for today's books are Justine and Ron Fontes, a wife and husband who have written more than 500 books together.  

Demeter and Persephone: Spring Held Hostage tells the oft-told tale of Persephone and how she was abducted by Hades. In the meanwhile, her mother Demeter pines away until a compromise is made, and voila, the concept of the seasons is born. This is a good retelling, with a little more personality injected than usual. I thought it was a brisk, interesting narrative. Also, the story acts as a great tour of the Greek mythological underworld, as one of the ways Persephone tries to stall is to ask Hades to show her around the realm. She sees all the various territories, including Tartarus and the Elysian Fields, and meets diverse characters like Cerberus and the Furies (or Kindly Ones, if you prefer).
In particular, I liked the characterizations and also the feminist flourishes added to this traditionally sexist story. As in George O'Connor's similarly focused Hades: Lord of the Dead, Persephone is given more of a role in the story, with her thought processes made visible about how she ended up marrying the King of the Underworld.

The art here is by Steve Kurth, a veteran artist known for his work on various Iron Man and GI Joe comic book series.

Today's second offering is The Trojan Horse: The Fall of Troy. The source material for this version of the story is Virgil's Aeneid and Quintus of Smyrna's The War at Troy, which gives it a different slant on the tale, more from the Trojan's point of view. I liked these small character moments that drew attention to particular characters' plights, like Cassandra's curse, Paris's pride, and Priam's bravery in the face of defeat. Otherwise, this is a pretty straight-forward version of the tale, with a couple of visuals I particularly enjoyed, such as this page laying out the gods who are major players and their motivations for the events:

Gordon Purcell's art is sort of 1990s Image Comics-flavored, in its way faces and clothing are rendered, but without so many excesses, like excessive cross-hatching. I liked his dynamic layouts and action scenes especially.

My opinion about these books follows much of what I have thought about other Graphic Universe offerings. In general, I have found these titles well-written and colorfully illustrated, and they seem great for upper elementary grades readers.

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