An innocent archaeology excursion in the Aegean Sea takes a haunting turn when a professor and her students make the rarest of discoveries. Will they be able to stop the ancient forces of chaos they have unleashed or will they fall victim?
Olympus starts off very slow, with some really boring and not-so-pertinent character building moments between two sisters as they discuss their future after their current study abroad program is over. Fortunately, the discovery of an ancient Greek box livens up the story and begins a torrid pace that never slows down.
Following the opening of the box, the two girls, their professor, and her assistant, Brent, find themselves boarded by a group of pirates as a massive storm springs up out of nowhere. The boarding of the ship is hectic as the pirates fight amongst themselves all while the boat is being tossed about on the sea. It creates quite a bit of drama as the pirate leader attempts to rein in his men, but, before anyone can come to a decision on anything, the storm ends and they are washed ashore on a mysterious island.
This type of scenario happens multiple times throughout the book. The characters are driven from danger to danger without any time to really assess their situation or make any hard decisions. They are forced to react and survive or die. It makes for a very quick read, but it also makes it difficult for any kind of characterization. Most of the characters are nameless and the ones who do have names are pretty forgettable. The book plays out like a slasher film except the serial killer is an island filled with ancient Greek mythological monsters.
Writers Geoff Johns and Kris Grimminger do inject some humorous dialogue into the story at certain points even at high tension moments. For example, as the party is ambushed by a Minotaur, Brent exclaims, “Jesus!” and York, the pirate captain, replies, “Praying to the wrong Gods—on this island, kid.” However, the torrid pace doesn’t really leave any room for any good dialogue. It is usually short statements such as, “Then we have to move. Now.” or “Only one way up.”
Butch Guice’s artwork is gorgeous to look at, especially the landscape panels depicting the calm waters of the Aegean or the waterfalls, trees, and mountains of the mysterious island. He creates distinct main characters through their clothing and effects. It is the best way to tell who is who when you don’t really get any time to learn about the characters, especially the pirates.
The action sequences usually flow very well and you can make out what is happening from panel to panel. However, there are a few panels where it is difficult to tell what happened. In one panel a pirate’s head inexplicably gets blown off, but it is impossible to tell what caused it. When Johns and Grimminger reveal it is Stymphalian Birds, it is even more confusing because they attack with their beaks and talons.
All of Guice’s monster creations are rather good, whether it is the Minotaur, a couple of gorgons, a giant Cyclops, or a number of other famous mythological creatures. I am surprised I didn’t turn to stone as Guice chose to do some close-ups with the gorgons’ faces.
Dan Brown’s colors highlight Guice’s artwork. The crystal clear blue of the Aegean or the dark gray and at times black of the Minotaur’s labyrinth evoke different feelings whether it is calming and peaceful or dreadful and terrifying. Brown does an excellent job of making sure the characters and villains pop off the page. Their colors are brighter or at least more distinct than their surroundings.
Olympus is a somewhat familiar take on Greek mythology, especially if you have read any of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson novels. However, Johns, Grimminger, Guice, and Brown are able to put it in comic form and add their own nuances such as a race against time that takes on a very slasher-esque feeling and a more mature tone. The adventure and constant threats are exciting, but it limits the character building moments as they are thrust from danger to danger. Guice’s artwork with Brown’s colors was gorgeous to look at. I especially enjoyed their recreation of the Aegean Sea and the Greek island.