By Dustin Cabeal
Save Me, Pythia is 100% what you’d want from a manga set in ancient Greece. The story follows Pythia, a teenager working at the temple for Apollo. Apollo himself has taken to Pythia, and after remembering to move the sun to night, he goes to the temple as a beggar looking for a place to stay the night. He reveals himself, in several different meanings of the word “reveal,” to Pythia and expects to have sex all night long with her. Instead, he gets rocked in the face and gut because Pythia isn’t having any of that shit. Her reward is a curse from Apollo in which she’ll be able to see the future.
At first, Pythia is excited about the curse thinking she can win the lotto and skip going to school anymore, but it doesn’t work out that way. Pythia runs into an old woman that was also cursed by Apollo for rejecting his advances, and she informs her that the curse only allows her to see coming disasters and that no matter who she warns, she’ll be ignored and eventually found crazy. It’s bad news for Pythia indeed. The old woman seems to know more, but since she only shows up to get the characters out of jams, we’ll just have to wait.
Eventually, Pythia goes to help a man she has a vision of being crushed by rocks. The dude turns out to be pretty indestructible as he lives through the rock slide. His name is Xanthos, and he wants to be a great hero… he also has a chicken following him. The chicken reveals to Pythia that he’s actually Zeus and is protecting Xanthos because it’s his kid. Herra has cursed Xanthos to fall victim of Murphy’s Law, that’s not their words by the way, but that’s essentially what it is. Zeus asks Pythia to use her powers to help Xanthos, who can listen to her since he’s only half human and the curse is geared towards 100% humans.
The reason the story works as well as it does is that it’s the classic guy is an idiot, the girl isn’t storyline. After the rough opening in which the story seems a little distracted by setting up the curse and plot, Pythia settles into a well-rounded character that’s short tempered, quick thinking and overall a sweet person. She’s the only reason that Xanthos is succeeding on his heroic missions and she’s not above reminding him. Xanthos is bad at everything. He’s rude, kind of dumb and can’t even figure out that the chicken is talking and his father. They’re a perfect balance. There’s no love story as of yet, but they laid the ground work in this volume. It will likely happen and possibly ruin the story when it does happen, but for now, they remain the best of enemies. Shackled together to achieve their goals, but both would be more than happy to be free of the other.
The opening is a bit rough. There’s a lot of attempts at humor that don’t work out very well. The interaction with Apollo is funny but on the long side. Pythia also takes a decent amount of time starting her journey with Xanthos which is strange considering there’s a character just to give her all the info with exposition and save the story from having to show it. Once it settles in, there’s a great balance of humor and adventure. The character’s needed to be fleshed out more, and a larger narrative would help them grow. They’re currently walking around looking for missions and getting into trouble at every stop. It works for this volume, but another entire volume of that would be a bit dull. Pythia is by far the best character and the perfect leading lady for the story.
The artwork is wonderful. It’s manga-ish, but you can really see the European style coming through. It’s still a great looking book though. The linework is clean and simple. Unlike most manga, it’s inked and with an understanding of black and white. That’s very important to point out because there is a lot of intelligent ink work here. From the way that Pythia’s hair isn’t fully inked in to give it an outline/lighting effect, but also to keep the page from being dominated by black ink. The comedy bits have their own style to them as well. It works for the story, but again, doesn’t scream “manga” to me. Again, I’m not here to debate what’s a manga. You label it a manga; I’ll review it as such. The art is its own style, but a style that works for the story and the world.
Perhaps it’s my affinity for Greek stories or just the fact that this is a mindless story about two cursed adventures and their Zeus chicken, but I found it to be very enjoyable. While the series could just recycle Greek stories, it instead opts to use them sparingly and add its own twist to them. The rest is a new trail it’s blazing which delightfully adds to the Greek Mythos.
Save Me, Pythia vol. 1
Creator: Elsa Brants
Publisher: Europe Comics