Friday, April 30, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 86 (4/30) -- Zeus: King of the Gods by George O'Connor

Kids love the Greek gods -- maybe because they have great powers, maybe because they're always fighting with their parents and siblings, maybe because they always seem to be able to do whatever they want. But kids love 'em -- from Edith Hamilton to the D'Aulaires to Percy Jackson, they can't seem to get enough thunderbolt-throwing action. (The Norse gods get somewhat less love, possibly because of the increased level of doom, and the relative dearth of family squabbles.)

This year sees the launch of a new series of twelve graphic novels for young readers about the Greek gods, all written and drawn by George O'Connor, and on what looks like a quarterly publication schedule. Zeus was the first of the series, though I've already read the second book (Athena: Grey-Eyed Goddess, which was Book-A-Day # 72).

Zeus is even stronger than Athena was, going the full Hesiod to start with the birth of Gaea from Kaos and run through the appearance of Ouranos and the birth and rebellion of the Titans before even getting to Zeus. He does skim over some of the more gory details, but, in general, this is a very authentic retelling of myth, given energy and excitement by O'Connor's vivid, stunning reimaginings of the characters: the Titans have star-fields for eyes and trailing clouds instead of hair, and their brothers, the Cyclopes and Hekatonchieres, are even stranger. O'Connor shapes Zeus's story to be a classic hero's quest -- as of course it already is, being one of the templates of that form -- with stunning panels and great scenes throughout.

O'Connor also manages to show -- at least to his older readers -- Zeus's wandering eye, which becomes much more important in the later myths. (I wonder if this will come more into play in Hera, the next volume.) His Zeus is cocky and attractive and in love with his own power, not the bearded old man of so many modern retellings, but eternally young and sure of his power and righteousness. And this is a great book for younger readers -- though they'll be even more eager to pick it up if you can manage to hide how educational it is!
Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index
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Listening to: Midnight Spin - In the Air (Revival)
via FoxyTunes

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