Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Ryan Kelly
I love a good historical comic, and have long had an interest in the Ancient World, so I was very excited to learn that one of my favourite comics writers, Kieron Gillen, and one of my favourite comics artists, Ryan Kelly, were collaborating on a new series set in Ancient Sparta, some one hundred years after the famous Battle of Thermopylae.
This comic is very much a response to Frank Miller's classic 300 book. Gillen states as much in the text section of the book, that he was irritated by the way in which Miller removed the slave aspect of Spartan society from his story, and set out to correct the historical record somewhat, and also tell a good story.
Spartan society survived only through the efforts of the Helots, the lower rung of a caste system that viewed them as less than slaves. When the book opens, a group of young Spartan warriors attack some Helots who are gathering fruit. Later, we meet a different group, who are having to listen to one particular Helot, from the city, who has put on some airs over his country cousins.
When a group of travelling Spartans insist that this group quarter them for an evening, this City Helot raises their ire by contradicting one man's accounting of the famous Thermopylae encounter.
This is a very interesting comic, with terrific art by Kelly, who has always been a master of human expression. Gillen doesn't bog the story down with history, and instead provides just the right amount of exposition to make the social arrangements clear.
I'm not sure how long this series is set to run for, but I'm very excited to keep reading it until it ends. Great stuff.