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Age of Bronze, Vol. 1: A Thousand Ships Paperback – April 1, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
Shanower won 2001's Will Eisner Comics Industry Award for Best Writer/Artist for this extraordinary project: the first part of a seven-volume graphic novel about the Trojan War. He has researched every imaginable source about the war, from ancient legends to medieval romances to contemporary scholarship, and synthesized them into a fantastically rich narrative. He's also delved deep into the architectural history of Mycenaean Greece, so that the dress and settings in the book look like Bronze Age artifacts, rather than the Classical Greek styles normally associated with the story. The book begins with the story of Paris, the milk-white bull and the kidnapping of Helen, and goes up to the start of the war Shanower still has a ways to travel before touching the material of the Iliad. He treats the material as historical fiction rather than mythology, as a tale of people, not of gods, though the supernatural aspects of the story are worked in through dreams and visions. Shanower subtly alters his visual style for every flashback sequence: when Priam relates the story of Herakles, the images are cartoonish and the characters larger than life. His dialogue is formal but not florid, and the narrative flow is clear and simple. But the story also has many amazing scenes for an artist the erotic entanglement of Achilles and Deidamia, the feigned madness of Odysseus, the launching of the thousand ships to rescue Helen and lay waste to Troy and Shanower makes the most of them, with a fine-lined style in black and white drawings evoking woodcuts and classical paintings.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 9-12. Shanower's graphic novel rendition of the Trojan War, the first volume in the projected seven-volume Age of Bronze series, is a feast for those new to Homeric tradition and modern archaeology as well as those who simply love mythology. The story begins with Paris' reconnection with his royal family and the subsequent kidnapping of Helen, with nuances of the legend roving through the viewpoints of various characters, including Paris and a youthful Achilles. Shading, texture, and Shanower's use of a single image across several panels give depth to the black-and-white cartoon artwork that carries the story. Students in search of an alternative telling will be delighted to have this resource: there's a tremendous amount of appended material--an extensive bibliography, genealogy charts, a glossary, even explanation of variant spellings. Sacrifice, the next volume in the series, is currently being serialized and is available in comic book stores. Francisca Goldsmith
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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This is the 1st volume in the series. It starts with Paris coming home to Troy and his abduction of Helen, and then Agamemnon who calls on the Achaean kings, bound by their oaths, to get her back. A lot about Achilles too. It ends with them setting off from Aulis to begin the epic war.
This is a must for Trojan War enthusiasts. From homer to Shakespeare, you have a single story of Troy and Shanover also draws on archeology to present the Achaean and Trojan cultures as they really were. Parents might want to preview it for the kids as there is some nudity.
Highly recommended for fans of graphic novels and aficionados of the ancient world alike -- as well as for those who just love a gripping story!
The plot is extremely intricate. It all comes from mythology, and there's a lot there to pull from. Doing the Illiad in seven comics makes sense. One book would only have allowed for the outline of the story. By breaking it into more books, the story is more complete and here the Illiad has been adapted well to the medium.
Graphically the book is well drawn. I'm guessing that the big challenge here was to keep faces consistent so that all the characters can be told apart. There are many, many characters and they are recognizable from frame to frame, if that helps to tell you the level of detail. The storytelling and how layouts play into that is good too. Layouts help to blend in and reveal characters's backstories (and everyone has a back story in mythology) and to communicate oracles and messages from the various gods.
This is a good read as a comic book. Being a modern take on the Illiad, which concievably someone might someday make you read, is an added bonus. Libraries should definitely stock this series. For individuals and families this is a good buy for a comic book, and a pretty good read. You should already know this, but if you don't then here goes, many of the classics have a lot of sex and violence. So, don't buy this for your four year old if you don't want them to see naked people and drawings of smeared entrails.
I had always thought that the Iliad was a too-lengthy poem story and really, there was nothing more to it than Helen of Troy, the Trojan Horse, Achilles etc.
Having finished this first volume, I can't say that it blew me away, BUT, as a stand-alone comic, it is excellent! It is obvious that this was a labour of love for Shanower and probably is his masterpiece work. The script is excellent, interwoven with interesting personalities and given some context in this rambling story. The drawings are very precise, with terrific perspectives and a thoughtful depiction of how the Greeks/Trojans would have looked like, given the wealth of recent archaelogical evidence.
In summary, this is an excellent comic (would have looked better in colour), and totally outclasses all other indie comics and most major mainstream comics as well.