Writer: Eric Shanower
Artist: Eric Shanower
Colors: John Dallaire
Cover: Eric Shanower
Publisher: Image Comics
I collected the first three volumes of this book many years ago; the black and white versions of A Thousand Ships, Sacrifice, and Betrayal. A longtime scholar and fan of Greek mythology and ancient history, I devoured these books and actually used them to help me learn anatomy and drawing clothing when I was younger. Now, I am excited that they are coming back and being published in color.
Let’s start there, then. The hues of the colors work beautifully; they have a very illustrative quality to them. The royal colors do much to bring the scenes in the palaces to life. I do wish there was more shading. It could be very subtle, especially since the drawings indicate shadows by lines, but it would add a little more depth to the pictures, I think. Perhaps I’m just awed by the painted covers that Shanower includes in the book, but as I’m looking through the pages, I feel that it would particularly add a lot to the vast landscapes found in some panels, as would a little bit of texture. However, Eric Shanower explains in his afterward that he originally drew the images to be published in black and white and specifically asked for the colors to be flat to not take away from the original drawings. Thus, I am happy with the colors and applaud the artwork, from its inception to its now full color completion.
Shanower is a diligent researcher and a talented artist. His characters look similar enough to be convincing, and though when I first read the series, I wished for there to be more diversity so it would help to keep the characters straight, the colors help a lot with that, so I am accomplishing the feat much better this time around. Also, if you need help with pronunciation while you read the book, there’s a glossary at the end, or you can head on over to the website, www.age-of-bronze.com for a guide to reference. I find that it makes the reading so much more authentic, if I can get at least close to pronouncing names and places accurately.
Back to the imagery: the visuals are compelling. I love the collage type of pages and wish there were more of them, but then I suppose those few wouldn’t be as impactful. There tends to be a lot of text on many of the pages, but this is a complex story, with many key players and scenes, so don’t let that turn you off. The dialogue is well written, informative, and moves the story along. I never feel that there’s a time when it drags.
Obviously, then, the story of the Trojan War has been entertaining and studied by people for hundreds of years, so the plot is there already. Shanower does an amazing job of sorting out all of the places and the characters and timeline that can be found in a multitude of sources. I admire his willingness to take on such an undertaking and to present the story in such a great medium; in such a thorough and engaging experience.
My only wish is that the typos had been corrected for this version. This book deserves better editing, because it’s that wonderfully great, and it pains me to come across errors after all of the work I know this must have taken.
I really can’t say it better than Tom Beasley, who wrote in the introduction that “Eric Shanower has constructed a vibrant and complex ecosystem out of a millennia of Trojan War stories.” And, he’s done it brilliantly with his meticulous studies of the era, his bold line drawings, and attention to detail. John Dallaire’s colors enhance Shanower’s vision and breathe new life into the ancient story retold by a master storyteller.