Saturday, May 5, 2018

Xerxes: The Fall of the House of Darius and the Rise of Alexander #2 Review


Persian Thugs

Written by: Frank Miller
Art by: Frank Miller
Colors by: Alex Sinclair
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Reviewed by: Andrew McAvoy

One thing is for certain; marathons are exhausting. The Battle of Marathon even more so. Last issue we saw how the Athenians scraped an unexpected victory against the Persians at the Battle of Marathon. Little did they know however that while they were engaged there, the bulk of the Persian forces were amassing on the coast of Athens. Let's see how they fare in this second installment in this comic reader's guide to a classical education (much more fun that ancient history class).

Shortly into this issue, we see the courier Pheidippides who has run the 26.2 miles from Marathon to Athens dying after delivering the message of the Greek success. After that good news, however, the mood blackens as the Athenians spy the Persian fleet heading towards them and start to worry. They can't rely on the Spartans either who are too busy tending to their woman (the Athenians picked the one time of the year that the Spartans get to indulge in a little husband-wife time). Desperate, with their forces wounded from battle, Themistokles works out how to pull a military Ponzi scheme on the Persians bluffing off the wounded, women and slaves with gleaming gold armor to fool the opposition into thinking the Greek force on the shore is vast in number. They might just be in with a chance after all.

This book is imbued with Frank Miller's trademark sense of humor, the characters are drawn strongly in terms of both art and writing. There are the usual liberties taken with broad brush strokes of history twisted to suit the story, but who cares when the tales are so entertaining. This issue is very much the tale of the rise of Themistokles in Athens through his ingenuity and bravery, but also the point at which we see Xerxes come to the fore of the Persian force.

Bits and pieces

This is a top quality book and as well as being action packed it is peppered with hilarious little bits of humor, like the scene in which an Athenian hooker is seen negotiating with a potential customer who seems to be about to lose a week's salary for an hour of "entertainment". At the heart of what makes Miller such a well-respected writer is the fact that his books brim with personalities. This series is packed with them and we've had a rich setting laid out so far in the series. I fully expect that with issue 3 things are about to get even more interesting.


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