Writer: Nathan Edmonson
Artist: Christian Ward
Publisher: Image Comics
It seems like a long, long time since I last read an Image Comics book. It is obvious though from a perusal of the monthly solicits that the publisher has moved quite significantly from one which initially re-hashed the superhero genre of the leading industry giants into a haven for independent (and often newly emerging) creators looking to produce something in a rather more innovative space. Sam Noir and The Nightly News are two that come to mind. And while not perhaps making the same instant impact on me as the first issues of those titles did, Edmonson & Ward’s Olympus looks like being another success story for Image’s publication strategy.
The concept behind this book is not entirely new: Gods on Earth, escaping Heaven and Hell, being hunted down and all that. Not surprisingly given the title, here we are dealing with what looks like Greek mythology
What does set this book apart is the style, grace and dynamism with which this first issue unfurls. Christian Ward’s art is the most immediately obvious aspect of this, with his highly stylized, fluid character depictions and dramatic background washes creating almost the impression of a mosaic rather than line art. It reminds me of a sedate Bill Sienkiewicz or Chris Bachalo. While perhaps needing to work occasionally on the storytelling elements, Ward infuses this book with a real sense of flair.
But that is to take nothing away from the direction of writer Edmonson, who develops a well-paced plot which creates tension, builds mystery, and develops real empathy for the two leading protagonists, Pollux and Castor. In original mythology the sons of Zeus, these two are immortals living on Earth, hunting down those that flee to the mortal world. Edmonson crafts a believable brotherly relationship which provides a satisfying mix of action and humour.
Whether Olympus’ impressive style alone is enough to carry this book is not certain, and despite this being a tightly written first issue, my only concern is that there is not quite enough depth in the plot to sustain it moving forward. But there is some wonderful talent on display in these pages, and if the creators can deliver on #2, then Olympus can still go on to achieve legendary status.