REVIEW: Greek Street #1

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Writer: Peter Milligan

Artist: Davide Gianfelice

Publisher: Vertigo

I have always had a lot of respect for Peter Milligan’s writing – his projects are always interesting and well worth a look. Amongst my favourites: The Extremist was the first ‘mature readers’ comic I ever read, and it really blew me away; his X-Men run laid some intriguing groundwork for new possibilities which were sadly mostly reversed or ignored, and The Depths was a fascinating take on the myth of Namor the Sub-Mariner.

Now Milligan returns to DC Vertigo with artist Davide Gianfelice for Greek Street, a contemporary re-imagining of the ancient Greek tragedies set in London’s Soho district. There are a number of different protagonists explored in this first issue, all with different stories to tell, but it appears as if the central character is Eddie, a young man living on the wrong side of the law and trying to uncover his past, having spent his youth in care homes. His search for his birth mother ends drastically – and yet rather predictably given the source material.

True to form, Milligan has crammed this extra-sized first issue with a whole host of interesting concepts and interpretations, and the multiple story threads are impressively intertwined, creating the impression of a cohesive narrative in only these first few pages of what promises to be a much larger and more complex tapestry of a story.

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I am not at all familiar with Davide Gianfelice’s artwork, but his style is a lovely fit for this book, depicting both the reality and the horror aspects (often one and the same) with flair while maintaining the relatively clean line work which is often synonymous with the look and feel of the Vertigo imprint. The use of darks and shadows captures the tone of the book perfectly, without hindering the storytelling dynamics, while each character is infused with real identity and individuality.

Soho is an interesting choice of location for these multiple stories; on one hand the rather seedy, down-to-earth setting is in stark contrast to the mythological world of ancient Greece, and yet the cosmopolitan variety allows the creators the latitude to explore a range of fantastical ideas.

Greek Street has many of the trappings of a Vertigo book (read sex and violence) but none of it is gratuitous – and indeed these themes are often central to the tragedies on which the inspiration for these stories are drawn. Following Vertigo’s current new book policy (a la Mike Carey and Peter Gross’ The Unwritten), the $1 price tag makes this issue well worth a punt, and I think there is more than enough here to bring open-minded readers back for more. The balance of reality and mythology is pitched perfectly, and as long as the book can maintain some interesting twists on the source material, then Milligan and Gianfelice have the makings of a really exciting project on their hands.

Rating: 8/10