"The Iliad" is the classic tale of ancient Greek literature, Homer's epic of the siege of Troy by a coalition of Greek city states to recover the famously beautiful Helen, wife of a Greek King. Author Roy Thomas and illustrator Miguel Angel Sepulveda have taken on the daunting task of translating a long story into the graphic novel format for Marvel Comics. The results are impressive.
"The Iliad" takes place in the tenth year of the siege, as the Greeks and the Trojans each begin to waver in their sense of purpose. The quest to recover Helen from Paris, a prince of Troy, becomes entangled in disputes among the Greeks. A quarrel with Menelaus, leader of the Greek expedition, causes the nearly invincible warrior Achilles to sulk in his tent. His absence will have dire consequences for the Greek army on the battlefield in front of Troy. Hector, Troy's own champion, will rally the Trojans to a supreme effort that will threaten not only to end the siege, but to annihilate the Greeks as well. Achilles will be forced to choose between his pride and his companions.
Translating "The Iliad" into graphic novel format is undoubtedly a challenge. Thomas and Sepulveda have succeeded more or less well in refining a long tale about the ancient Greeks and Trojans into a graphic novel of reasonable length, with the best of the story captured in vibrant artwork. That said, the story is tough to follow, with its many characters hardly distinguishable in their helmets, and their lives complicated by the competing interventions of the Olympian gods in the affairs of men.
"The Iliad" as produced by Marvel Comics is highly recommended as an introduction to a classic tale for young adults. This reviewer wishes the graphic novel had been rendered in a larger format for easier viewing of the art, and recommends time and patience in the reading.
While I was required to read a segment of the Iliad in high school, it was not until a few years later that I found the time to read the complete work. Once I completed it my opinion was that no one can claim to be educated without having read the Iliad. So much our western cultural heritage comes from the ancient Greeks and this epic work is one part of their foundation. As a college educator, I do not share the opinion of many of my colleagues regarding how people can be educated. I fully believe that every possible avenue of education should be utilized, including comic books, movies and video games. This series of 8 comics that retells the story of the Trojan War maintains a great deal of the tone of the original poem; the speech retains the structure of how the ancients talked. It also maintains the storyline very well, depicting the internal struggles between the Achaeans (Greeks), the gods themselves as well as the conflicts between the Achaeans and the Trojans. There is great chivalry between the armies interspersed between their hacking each other into segments. The role of Helen is of course featured as the internal politics of Troy serve to keep the conflict active. I enjoyed this series immensely and would even recommend it to high school teachers that want to introduce the Iliad and the Trojan War to their students.
I bought this for my 11yo son, who was interested in the Greek stories from the newer Percy Jackson series. This volume, accompanied by the equally excellent adaptation of the Odyssey, was thoroughly enjoyable and a great introduction to this classic story.