Damn… the Spartans were dicks! I mean the thing about them is that they’ve been romanticized over the years by comics and the History Channel, but we often forget that history is a harsh mistress that never forgets your dirty laundry and that no society is perfect even if their abs were. Three takes a look at Greece and the Spartans after the battle of 300 that everyone is very familiar. It’s gruesome, it’s fierce, but damn it’s good. If you’ve read any of Kieron Gillen’s Uber series then you know that there’s a ton of research that went into that story. There’s a similar vibe here as a Historical Consultant is listed in the credits, but unlike Uber there’s no fantasy element to this story. It begins with information about the Helots. They’re a group of people to be are considered to be lower than slaves. The way I took it they’re owned by the country and support the cities with their production, but not considered free by any means. Once a year the masters declare war on the Helots without their knowledge and the masters’ sons go to the Helot land and kill the strong and do whatever else is needed to keep the people on their knees.
After that history lesson which also sets the status quo for us, we meet three people. Klaros who is a strong silent man that is crippled and thus left to live with the rest of the Herlots, Damar a widow who has some interest in Klaros; and Terpander who is at the top of the food chain for the village. Terpander is probably the smartest there, though he’s an ass so no one seems to like him. After a scene in which we meet all three characters and take inventory of their lives we witness a group of Spartans roll in on the town seeking shelter for the evening… if you were paying attention to the rest of the details you can gather by now that this isn’t a good thing.
Well the name I assume comes from the three main characters we meet, but with this issue it’s a bit unclear as to why they’re our three main characters. I enjoyed the book and the rich historical aspects of the series, but part of me wonders if this wouldn’t have been better as a complete story presented as a graphic novel. Since it’s based on history it’s hard not to believe that there’s an end in sight. The reason I say this is because the spot in which the issue ends is kind of awkward. It might just be my personal opinion, but I feel that an individual issue should be able to stand-alone and have its own beginning, middle and end; even if the larger story is continued. This issue is good, but it does feel like just the beginning to a larger story with no real resolution to anything that’s presented in the issue.
A lot of the structure and paneling reminded me of a Hickman book, which is a complement. It’s not an exact copy or anything, but definitely had hints of it. Ryan Kelly’s style has vastly improved over the years and it’s actually exciting to see him take on this type of project. This is probably as different as you can get from Local, but it still has his style and designs in the character’s faces. If anything I would have liked to have seen more of his artistic style as this came across very refined and stiff at times. There were times that I felt like I was there living history and other times that I was reading a history book. Overall it was still very good, but I can see it teetering on becoming boring due to the setting.
I may come across harsh on this series, but it’s only because it’s brought together so many talented people in the comic industry. When that happens, most readers expect something magical to happen, but it misses the mark here. It’s still a good issue that presents an interesting story, but as I said it’s a very incomplete story in this issue. I feel that I have to read the next issue to figure out the rest of the story, rather than wanting to read it to see what happens next. If you dig Spartans and just that era of time in the world, then definitely check the book out.
Writer: Kieron Gillen Artist: Ryan Kelly Colorist: Jordie Bellaire Historical Consultant: Prof. Stephen Hodgkinson Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 10/9/13