Olympia is a new series by Curt and Tony Pires from Image Comics that likely many will be talking about. One might call it a sleeper hit, since it doesn’t immediately strike you as a heavy seller, but once you start reading its narrative draws you in. Like other recent series such as Paper Girls or Joker: Killer Smile, this is a story weaving a boring teenager’s suburban life with the fantastical. Many can relate to a narrative like this since many of us grew up in the same sort of neighborhoods. Like Stranger Things before it, the Pires’ and artist Alex Diotto reveal how an ordinary life get get quite extraordinary with a little superhero magic.
The book opens with Olympian, a superhero not unlike He-Man meets Thor who is fighting a green suited villain. Cut to the image of Olympian ready to fight, but the image is being held by a boy reading a comic book. Soon after the boy packs up his comic and makes his way back home only to discover a shooting asteroid crashing to Earth. In the rumble is the very same hero he was just reading about. As the book continues we see the boy’s life at school, his family dynamic, and are introduced to a principal who seems to be a good influence on our main character. The story unfolds at a wonderful pace so you’re never bored and all the necessary supporting characters are introduced efficiently.
The boy, Elon Andrews, is a lonely sort of kid and given he reads comics alone in the woods he’s likely dealing with some stuff. The introduction of Olympian into his life changes things however and he’s soon taking care of the superhero who was injured in his fall to Earth. The story picks up with some action and it’s quite clear Olympian needs Elon as much as Elon needs Olympian. How a superhero from the comics is in the real world is yet to be revealed, but the bonding that has already begun is intriguing enough to make that a secondary care.
The art by Diotto with color by Dee Cunniffee and letters by Micah Myers are quite good, all of which come together to give this book a unique feel. It’s a slightly rougher style that gives the book a rustic feel that suits the suburban location. The opening pages are stylized like an old comic, setting the stage for Olympian’s origin. Later, in an action sequence with Olympian and a few baddies the layout is angled down the page highlighting the comic book gutters and panels. It’s a nice way to highlight the superhero and comic nature of Olympian even though he’s in the real world. My one gripe with the art is how facial expressions can be lost due to the art looking muddy. The emotion can sometimes get lost in close ups without the body language expressing what is going on.
This is a great first issue that I suspect many will liken to other media, but stands on its own thanks to the superhero stylings and strong character dynamics in play. The main character feels real and many will easily relate to the lonely child who needs a spark of magic in his life. A compelling look at a lonely kid who has a superhero drop in on his life to mix things up.
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