Image Comics introduces a new series set in 364 B.C. which honors history and focuses on Spartans after their acclaimed victory at the Battle of Thermopylae. Is it good?
Three #1 (Image Comics)
Right off the bat I noticed there was a historical consultant (Clayton Cowles) working with writer Kieron Gillen (Phonogram, Über, Iron Man) and Ryan Kelly (Saucer County, Local) to produce what might be a series that at the very least gives us a snapshot of how the people lived. That’s exciting, particularly because it’s not just the dramatic story we can enjoy, but the details that’ll transport us back to another time.
Slash a woman when she’s picking fruit, will ya!?
The issue opens in Greece as the peaceful Helots are out and about gathering food whilst the very evil-looking Spartans lurk off in the distance. It appears they’re called Krypteia, but it’s clear they are the sons of the men who fought at Thermopylae. It seems the way they see it, they have every right to pillage, because the masters allow it. The issue then opens on the protagonists and their humble lives as Lakonians.
Face tattoos always equal bad news bears.
If that description sounds complicated it’s because it kind of is, but that’s because the story needs to detail some important aspects in order to understand the complicated relationship between these people. Considering the sons of the Spartan 300 seem to think they deserve respect not for anything they did does seem a little backward from the men who won at Thermopylae, which might be a major element Gillen is toying with. As far as this issue goes, there’s not much beyond the set up of the story and its characters. There does seem to be a ruse at work, but to have the final page end with chaos just erupting does cheapen the end. There’s no telling how the protagonists will react or where they stand. The anticipation for the next issue feels muted due to this choice.
Ryan Kelly does a superb job with backgrounds which set the time and place nicely. The faces of these characters, as worn and lived in as can be, help distinguish the time and place as well. I wasn’t very happy with the layouts, mostly because he uses a square panel to distinguish smaller moments with a yellow white border. This makes the panels look almost like Polaroids or at the very least much more modern than the book is intended to feel. These square panels even turn at times, as if the Polaroid was placed on the page an an uneven manner, which further threw me off. Aside from that though, the drama is incredible in these faces, and you’ll feel their drunkenness, frustration and boredom whenever necessary.
- Excellent backgrounds and characters
- Layouts took me out of the book
- Story may be decompressed as the cliffhanger seems an odd place to end
Is It Good?
It is, as far as setting the mood and capturing the characters that’ll be important in the next issue. I wasn’t sold on what the comic will really be about, which is partly due to the pacing of this issue and its decision to end on a cliffhanger that doesn’t tell us much. Still, the characters are vivid and the world is completely believable.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!