It is the greatest story ever told, the perfect unity of myth, legend, and history. It is the inexahustible wellspring into which all ancient Greek myth flows or emanates. It is "Crisis on Ancient Earth". It is, in essence, the comic book that created Western Civilization. It is the Trojan War.
As a trained Classicist, I am not inclined to praise modern interpretations and retellings of Ancient lit. That's because so many are dreck; all is dross that is not Helena, after all. Yet I have nothing but the highest praise for Eric Shanower's Age of Bronze, an on-going monthly series that is retelling the story of the Trojan War.
Unlike many adaptations, Shanower's strives for accuracy, in characterization, plot, dress, design, and decor. Even the decorations seen on palace walls in the comic book are extrapolations from the actual remains of murals unearthed at Troy. He's made all the difficult decisions in interpretation, such as how to reconcile textual inconsistencies or in what way to understand the role of the gods in the conflict, with great care, intelligence, and style. The result is most readable version of the war since, well, Homer.
Shanower also takes full advantage of the comic book medium in adapting the tale. For example, when King Priam tells the story of how when he was a boy Herakles sacked his city, the flashback is drawn in a "Popeyesque" style that captures the mythic tone of Herakles in a way a thousand words could not. As, and befits a gifted interpreter, he augments the original stories with logical expansions, such as the inclusion of the dog Argos in the story of the Madness of Odysseus and of Troilus & Cressida in the doings at the Trojan court.
I don't care what else Image has done; they publish "Age of Bronze" and for that they shall always have my respect and gratitude.
Apparently I'm not the only person to praise the series. Age of Bronze has already won two Eisners and is nominated for a third this year. Unfortunately, it's too close to being one of those books everyone praises but no one reads (you know; like Manhunter). While sales of its collected trades remain healthy, too many trade-waiters are dampening sales of the monthly issues. If those fail, there aren't going to be any trades. That would be a crime, so I'd like your help to keep that from happening. Besides, I want to find out how the war ends.
I intend to do my part by posting occasionally on the various characters, stories, and situations in Age of Bronze and how they should appeal to the average comic book reader. For example, how anyone can call himself a Batman fan without knowing the stories of Odysseus, the Batman of Ancient literature, is beyond me.
All I'm asking is that you check out the Age of Bronze website, read some more about it on-line, and consider subscribing to this wonderful series. Age of Bronze belongs in the short boxes of every educated Westerner, right alongside Action Philosophers.