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Review: Athena and Hera graphic novels

September 12, 2011

Graphic novels by George O’Connor

Athena is the second book and Hera is the third in the Olympians series.  However, I read them in reverse order.  Oopsy.

Hera:  The Goddess and Her Glory

I hated, just hated his treatment of Hera.  The hairstyle he puts on her after her marriage to Zeus is horrible.  She was one of the most beautiful of goddesses and the author (who claims that she is his favorite goddess) does her no service in this area or really in any other.  I will give him this, he was (for the most part) true to the myths and how they portray Hera…which is very disappointing.  I think he could have portrayed her as less of a shrew and still kept to the myths of a vengeful wife.  I mean really?!  “I almost broke a nail?” Ugh.  Though the coversation over Io was pretty amusing.

I like how he took the story of Heracles and made it a triumph for Hera.  The son of Zeus and a mortal woman who bears the name “Glory of Hera” for all time. Heracles became a great hero because of Hera’s trials…which is a pretty good “back at you” to Zeus.  (You may have engendered him by I made him!) I understand the reasons for leaving out Heracles killing his children in a state of Hera caused insanity but that is a pretty big part of the tale to leave out.  The 12 Labors were his atonement for such a deed.

The author’s treatment of Zeus, unlike in the first book, makes me wince as this is not the god I know…but yes this is how Zeus is portrayed in the myths.  I also am displeased over the constant depictions of Zeus standing to Hera sitting on the throne.  This makes him appear subservient to her.  While this did occur, it only occurred in a few select temples of Hera where he was called Zeus Heriaos (of Hera).  The myths also plainly state that he was stronger and mightier than Hera and other gods put together!

My favorite panel in the whole book is the last one…a depiction of  Hera during her yearly bath to restore her maidenhood.

Best picture of her in the WHOLE book.

Athena:  Grey-Eyed Goddess

I enjoyed this graphic novel much more than the one on Hera.  I find this surprising as I’m a bit ambivalent about Athena.  Probably because I associate her with someone in my past who I am very much angry with still.  The frame for this book is especially neat.  The Fates tell the various tales of Athena as the assemble a tapestry that depicts her in her glory.

The book starts with the tale of Metis.  I loved the way that the author depicts Zeus swallowing Metis.  I’ve always wondered about that.  This treatment is perfect.  It goes on to cover  how while she was now living in his head and going through pregnancy, Zeus was merrily going on with his life, getting married etc.  Metis raises their daughter who trains her mind during the day and fights her father’s nightmares at night.  Metis makes her daughter’s armor, pouring her essence within in it.  What derailed the story for me is once Athena is out of Zeus’ head, suddenly she does not remember her mother any more!  Uh WHAT?!  Her mother raised her in the confines of Zeus’ mind until he could hold Athena no longer.  How could Athena forget that?!

This novel also covers the alternate tale, that I only learned recently, of how Athena got her aegis.  I also like how the author incorporated the essence of Medusa into the aegis instead of just slapping the face upon it.  Though I do dislike his story of Medusa…mostly because I like my version the best…and his depiction of her as a gorgon is terrible.  Those are some really fat snakes (the snakes drawn in the Heracles story are fat too…he needs to study his snakes a bit more).  Medusa was a beautiful woman with snaky hair and serpent tail below the waist.  Not this ugly creature.

My other major complaint is the facial expressions on Athene.  I looked for one good panel of her looking at the viewer and couldn’t find one that had a pleasant expression.  She is almost always scowling or grimacing or just looks goofy.  She was depicted as a beautiful warrior and there are some panels of her that show this but none where she is looking out of the panel.

Now the idea that Athena and Hermes hanging out together left me rather amused.  That seems like one unlikely friendship…

Mr. O’Connor sticks pretty closely to the myths.  He has already set Ares  as the scourge of the Pantheon (yet always has him hanging out in Hephastaes’ forge which is pretty odd), which I find disappointing.  I will continue to  purchase his graphic novels but feel a bit of disappointment none the less.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 12, 2011 6:39 PM

    Hmmm interesting. It seems almost worth tracking down and looking at. Or at least these two volumes you have mentioned. I would be interested to see how he places the face of Medusa within the sheild of Athena since I had been told a story of this that the face was there because this sheild has been used by Perseus and the reflection of her face caught there remained for all time. And that is the version I personally prefer 🙂 So I will have to get my hands on these and check them out! Thanks for the review!

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  2. September 12, 2011 6:59 PM

    In this version of the myth, the aegis is a kind of cape which protects the shoulders and some of the upper chest . It started out as Zeus’, gets a giant skin morphed with it then the snakes of Medusa end up as the fringe. No face.

    He uses the shield from Athena to see Medusa’s image so that he knows where she is to remove her head.

    I have reviewed the first volume of this series here

    https://4ofwands.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/review-zeus-king-of-the-gods/

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    • September 12, 2011 7:27 PM

      An interesting aside that I didn’t know until I skimmed (and read many selections) of the Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquity (old volume so out of copyright and available to download for free through googlebooks…compiled by Smith..I forget the first name) is a rather lengthy discussion of the aegis in one part, illustrated used both in peaceful manner (lax and more adorning the figure) and in aggressive war-figures where in the aegis is wrapped from the neck down the forearm over a sheild. It related to another section wherein the cape was often wound about the arm to act as a makeshift sheild…but I think that was another entry. Interesting though, I will have to check out the other review now too! 🙂

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  3. September 13, 2011 12:24 AM

    Graphic design is an art as well as a visible communication. So Graphic design has the potential of enhancing innovation and creativity among us.
    It is very interesting….

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