Olympians: Zeus: King of the Gods

Olympians: Zeus: King of the Gods
Olympians: Zeus: King of the Gods By George O’Connor; Read: January 2012

This alone is an affirmation of how much I am a geek for mythology!

I was on a gift-hunt for a friend who’s celebrating her birthday today (BTW, to everyone who’s also celebrating the Chinese New Year like her, “Kiong Hee Huat Tsai!” from us here in the Philippines). And I saw this on the old comics rack. I readily flipped through the pages and I was wowed. Like really!

Here was the creation myth and Titanomachy in brilliant, colored, and new imagery.

Instantly, two questions popped into my head: (1) do I have enough money to buy this plus a book I have yet to find and (2) should I really buy it? Since I couldn’t answer the first one but already had half a mind to get it for myself, I placed it behind the comic version of The Hound of the Baskervilles. Then I went off to find a birthday present.

My default store of choice was unfortunately closed for renovations. So I had to make do with what little my second choice store offered, which isn’t saying that much. But I did find one. For the record, I made sure that the book I bought for my friend was worthy of her time and her shelf—not because I wanted to buy that comic did I decided on buying the nearest tome, mind you.

So, with comics and a book in hand, I went on home. But the second I got on the train, I took my newest treasure out of the bag. I wanted to know if I could finish it in one train ride. Turns out I couldn’t. Or should it be that I didn’t want to? Guess it was more of the second.

O’Connor, from the back of the front cover, made a diagram of the Olympian family tree. I have to say, most of the names there I am familiar with but not the ones that belonged to the Cyclopes and the hundred-handed monsters. And he even has references to back it up. Points for that!

Depicting Chaos as just a white page and Gaea as a small brown circle in the middle of the page is arresting and very unique. Usually, I see artists render Chaos as just a dark force, uncontained, formless, and overwhelming. This depiction was very simple and light, not that is new (to me, at least) but it is good.

Frustration met me at the next page. I thought he’d give Sky and Earth the anthromorphic treatment. I’d understand Chaos as being a concept but Uranus and Gaea have been known to have bodies like that of humans. Because by having so, the later myth of the castration of Uranus would be more dramatic. But I find consolation with how the other Titans found themselves useful in that account: four of them holding up from the four cardinal points. And holding up the actual sky is a very daunting task.

And just when he’s about to spoil a detail that belonged to follow-up comic, he veers away. That alone made me want to collect the sequels.

Now I don’t know if you’ve been a reader of Percy Jackson and the Olympians series but with O’Connor’s images, it puts a lot of things into perspective. How big and imposing the Titans were then. And to say that a Titan’s throne was a mountain now made more sense.

To make the comic more engaging, there had to be more than just narration. There had to be dialogue. And to make dialogue interesting, there had to be interaction of one character to another. Most depictions elsewhere of Zeus mingling with other beings are of an older version of the god. Here in this comic was a very young Olympian who was curious about his world and his abilities. Quite a fresh take albeit he still has the flirtatious and mischievous tendencies, which is quite expected.

What would’ve passed off as minor details in the story really astound me! And that’s because they’re found in most stories. This is the first time I heard of the other Olympians being coughed out of Cronus and most of them landing on what would be their domain. From what most accounts I’ve read, it was like a casting of lots.

And for the first time, a god was put on a quest! No spoilers for that one but I’ll say this much: it is surprising.

Of the many myths, it is the Titanomachy that holds a lot of my curiosity. The elder gods are usually brushed aside, only mentioned as necessary and their last show of power reduced to mere sentences. Here, they were shown in all their full glory and fury. Also, this war aided in the formation of the world we now know.

You couldn’t go through the Titanomachy without mentioning the Cyclopes and Hundred-handed monsters. Of the two, Cyclopes are more famous in art that’s why it doesn’t take much to imagine them. It’s the Hundred-handed monsters that I don’t know much about nor have seen a lot. Say their name and I just think of monstrous globs with numerous appendages. Here, their main attribute is clearly emphasized. And, compared with my own imagination, O’Connor’s makes more sense.

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