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Age Of Bronze #28
posted April 7, 2009
Image, comic book, 32 pages, March 2009, $3.50
I've been following Eric Shanower's telling of the story of the Trojan War in comic book form since its first issue. The book collections are lovely, and through the sustained reading experience they offer I'll admit it might become easier to track Shanower's massive cast. I can't resist the comic books, though: it seems like some sort of time-traveling miracle that someone is doing a long-form, action-adventure serial that doesn't involve superheroes or zombies. The consistently strong design work on the comic book covers makes my purchasing decision that much easier.
In issue #28, we see the second half of the initial confrontation between the forces brought to shore by the Achaean fleet and the soldiers of Troy and their various allies that seek to repel them. Shanower's approach to the bloodshed is appropriately horrifying, and he takes special care in showing the physical exertion involved. What stands out is how much humor Shanower wrings from desperate circumstance. Basically, there's a big, messy retreat that builds like a Will Elder sequence, a tidal wave of flesh and fear that force the major personalities to reveal elements of character by how they ride it out or take advantage. This would be fun enough in and of itself, but Shanower overlays the action with the women of Troy standing on the ramparts seeking out their men, painfully oblivious to the full extent of the danger they're in. In the book's most brutal sequence a man is slain in ugly fashion in front of his proud family, including a matriarch that in the immediate aftermath can do little more than wail in pain at what she's just seen.
As much as I enjoy reading this as a serial and as much as I'm grateful for its existence in this format, I think it may be a while before I can figure out exactly what I think of the story entire. For now, though, I'll enjoy my periodic descents into Shanower's depiction of a world where one thing can turn into another so quickly it leave you wondering after the permanence of anyone's conception of civilization.