Biblical mythology has always fascinated me. I am a big fan of mythology in general, but I feel the Greek and Norse mythos are a tad overexposed in popular culture these days. I would bet the name Hercules/Heracles is much more widely known than Samson, who some historians consider his Hebrew Bible counterpart. Child of the Sun dares to unify these legends by offering as compelling a mythological crossover event as I can imagine. At the end of issue one they are still friends, but I don't care. Heracles vs. Samson: Who ya got?!
Samson gets home team advantage in Child of the Sun as it is set in Ancient Israel around 1300 B.C. This account of Sampson, the Strong Man, sticks pretty close to the source material with one exception: Heracles, Greek demi-god and Son of Zeus is also there. Half of the first issue is a prologue featuring the plight of the blasphemous Israelites as well as Samson's divine birth. We are then treated to a classic Heracles introduction featuring victories in contests of strength, skill and charisma. Juxtaposed against this shirtless, hulking paradigm of masculinity is a lean, cloaked and sober Samson. The two become fast friends and set off to Timnath for a biblical booty-call.
The first half of the issue is pretty cryptic and assumes the reader is familiar with the story of Samson. I, for one, was not and had to do some research to fully appreciate the almost caption-less prologue. Subtlety is among my most cherished qualities, yet I still felt the prologue could have used a few more verbal hints. What I did understand immediately is that Apophis is the bad guy. Good guys typically don't sacrifice children, that much is clear. The second half of the issue features more dialogue and the narration of Heracles. Through Heracles, the author acknowledges the similarities between the two strong men and offers insight into Samson's desires. Without the narration, these similarities would be imperceptible as the hedonistic brute, Heracles, is presented as the antithesis of the innocent Samson. This contrast, though heavy-handed, serves the narrative well.
The art and teases of color in Child of the Sun are crisp and beautiful. However, the issue feels like it is unfinished. Five out of nineteen pages are colored and the rest are aching for it. The stunning Messenger splash left me nostalgic while reading some of the emptier pages. The character designs are very attractive. I did think Apophis and Heracles looked very similar. If that was intentional, the artist definitely hit their mark. The layout is dynamic and interesting. The parchment text boxes are a nice touch as well. Overall this is a very visually pleasing book.
I feel Samson deserves an epic adaptation and Child of the Sun is poised to deliver just that. At the same time I really hope Heracles is not used purely to enhance Samson. Including Heracles in the story solely to demonstrate that Samson is the stronger or more righteous of the two would put this book too far into fanfiction territory for my liking. Some folks may enjoy them, but historical or religious superfights are a pet peeve of mine. To be fair, this is merely conjecture on my part. So far, Child of the Sun has been a novel and capable chronicling of a biblical badass. Let's hope it stays that way.
Child of the Sun #1 Writer: Michael Van Cleve Artist: Mervyn McCoy Color: Jonathan Hunt Letters: Leigh Walls Price: $2.99 Release Date: September 2015 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital Facebook Amazon