Greek gods are the new vampires.
Or maybe it just seems that way to me, as the mother of a pre-teen with a deep love of all things Percy Jackson. However, I have noticed that the Olympians are becoming a pop-culture trend.
First Second is one with the zeitgeist, with their graphic-novel series Olympians, the first of which is Zeus: King of the Gods.
Zeus is a good starting point for a series about the Olympians, because not only is he their king, he started that whole “war with the Titans” that set up the Greek pantheon as we know it.
George O’Connor starts in the beginning, with Gaea and Ouranos. O’Connor chooses to use the less familiar, more Greek, names of the gods. This scores him points for authenticity, but may confuse readers who are more familiar with the Latinized names. He goes through the creation of the Titans, the birth and subsequent devouring of the Olympians. He moves quickly through Zeus’s childhood and rushes to the part we all want to see – the big war.
Adapting the story of the Greek gods to a graphic novel for kids has some unique challenges. The Olympians liked to get it on, Zeus in particular. O’Connor does a good job of glossing over the more salacious aspects of Zeus’s origin story, while still including some “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” moments.
O’Connor has an angular, realistic style, which reminds me a little of Craig P. Russell. It works fairly well with his subject matter. I wish there was less black in his compositions. The use of stark black for backgrounds and shadowing lessens the impact of some scenes, particularly the large format battles.
All in all, this is a nice re-telling of Zeus’s origin story, in a more palatable format than the tomes of Greek mythology I read as a child. I look forward to future installments in the series.