It’s one of the oldest story types: A young hero discovers his heroic destiny, slays the evil monster, and gets the girl and a crown to go along with her. Here we see it in one of its older forms, adapted for a modern medium. Actually, we get it as a story within a story, as a woman recounts the story to a boy in Ancient Greece for the sake of its moral lesson, thus justifying the narration bubbles being there, acting as the voice of an actual narrator.
The story starts with Perseus’s mother being imprisoned so she can’t have children in order to thwart the prophecy that her son will someday kill her father, the King of Argos. Of course, you can’t fight fate – Zeus, appearing as a shower of golden rain, impregnates her, and she gives birth all of one day later. So, the King decides to kill his daughter by dropping her and her son in the middle of the sea. This doesn’t work and they end up living with the fisherman who saves them, who, coincidentally, is the brother of the King of Seriphos.
The King of Seriphos desires Perseus’s mother, who rejects him. Finally announcing that he will marry another woman, the King tricks Perseus into promising him the head of the Gorgon, Medusa, as a wedding gift. Despite the impossibility of the task, Perseus pulls it off with some literal gifts from the gods. He slays both Medusa and, while he’s at it, a sea serpent that had been menacing the kingdom of Joppa, thus winning the hand of their princess, Andromeda. He returns home to find that the deceitful King has married his mother after all. So, using Medusa’s head, he petrifies the King and his corrupt court and takes over the throne. To celebrate he holds a sports tournament and when his turn to throw the discus comes he accidentally decapitates one of the invited royals, the King of Argos who is his grandfather. So his mother goes to rule Argos and he and Andromeda get to rule Seriphos. And they all lived happily ever after. Hooray!
The art here is fine. It’s bright enough to look mildly unrealistic, which suits such a tale. The humans look like they all were carved out of marble, emphasizing the Greek ideal of physical perfection. The monsters look suitably hideous: they horrify, but don’t terrify.
My main problem with this book is that all the gods we see here act like they’re one big happy family who love to help just mortals and arrange fate so the wicked ones are punished. Anyone who’s read even a smattering of real Greek mythology will know that they were about as dysfunctional and petty as your average reality TV contestant. But that change is necessary, because otherwise this book would be a older teen/adult book and this is aimed at younger readers who don’t already know the story.
Still, it’s a reasonable introduction to the story and to Greek myths as a whole. Pick it up if you’re so inclined.
Perseus: Destiny’s Call
by Ryan Foley
Art by Naresh Kumar
Campfire Graphic Novels, 2012