Page 45 Review by Stephen
The finest modern version of The Trojan War I've come across in any medium, AGE OF BRONZE truly is a labour of love. The detail, both visual and narrative, is meticulous without ever sacrificing clarity or vitality. Indeed his panel composition couldn't be easier on the eye, and his pen line, increasingly beautiful, is a successful mix of Perez/Jimenez for backgrounds and P. Craig Russell on the figures and faces.
That the third book had me engrossed all Sunday morning when it consists overwhelmingly of negotiations, recriminations, lamentations and strategic planning (this is the third of seven volumes; war may be imminent but has yet to break out) is a testament to Shanower' s narrative judgement, his skill with words and the seductive beauty of the finished page. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the source material is crammed full of intrigue seduction, rejection, superstition, betrayal and revolves around the three most potent human emotions: love, anger and grief.
The interconnected threads are numerous, but the central story spins out of the actions of Paris, brother of Hektor and son of King Priam of Troy. Whilst a guest of one of the Achaean kings, Menelaus of Lakedaemon, he stole Menelaus' wife, son and household treasure and returned with them to Troy. That wife was Helen, genuinely in love with Paris, yet still concerned for the wellbeing of her husband whom she knows to be a good man. In retaliation for Menelaus' loss, an army of Achaean soldiers and royalty, led by High King Agamemnon and including Odysseus, Palamedes and Achilles has assembled and, after numerous set-backs, is finally poised on the nearby island of Tenedos to sail across the Aegean Sea. But with prophecy on both sides predicting so much loss and suffering from this seemingly inevitable conflict, the Achaeans embark upon a last-ditch attempt at obtaining restitution peacefully, while King Priam merely plays for time as his own allies assemble...
Shanower's considerable skill with rhetoric does his source material and its characters full justice. That final confrontation by the Achaean embassy of King Priam on his throne, flanked by his sons, is electric. Any chance of reconciliation is scuppered by a goading Paris, gloating in Menelaus' face and pushing his buttons to breaking point by dragging down Helen, his children and Menelaus' own son who's frightened by the father he no longer recognises.
The art of oratory is far from dead. Next: the art of war.