Suffering under King Minos of Crete, young Theseus wishes to save the city of Athens from the tyrant’s rule. With the aid of a stranger, he has a chance. Is it good?
Writer: Chris Pasetto, Christian Cantamessa
Artist: Lukas Ketner
Publisher: Image Comics
From the opening pages, one can tell that the creators of Kill the Minotaur have done their research, as the Athenian and Minoan cultures are presented fairly accurately, with some changes made to heighten the drama (for more on that, you can read our interview with the creators). This is all conveyed through Lukas Ketner’s stunning artwork which captures the majesty of the Greek architecture. Combined with the exaggerated scale of the labyrinth, this helps to highlight one of the book’s greatest strengths: the merger of grit and myth.
The stories of Ancient Greece are often rather brutal affairs, yet the tales have become diluted in most media where they are oft presented as tales for children. If they are given any sort of edge, it is often in some retelling that strays so far from the myth that one wonders whether or not “adaptation” still applies. For the first issue at least, writers Chris Pasetto and Christian Cantamessa hew fairly close to the original myth. Some of Theseus’ backstory is seemingly omitted and there are a few twists that emerge in the book’s final pages, but Kill the Minotaur #1 still feels like the story of Theseus and the Minotaur.
At the same time, Pasetto and Cantamessa add a great amount of characterization to the characters. Theseus is headstrong, but conflicted about Athens’ submission to King Minos and his role in allowing that relationship to continue. Minos is a twisted and cruel ruler, but some of that cruelty stems from the love of his son, who Minos still calls by his given name, Asterion. Make no mistake: Minos is no sympathetic villain here, but Pasetto and Cantamessa do give him enough layers to keep him from being a one-dimensional tyrant. If there is one possible misstep in the presentation of the characters, it’s the use of adult language, however that gives the book a visceral feel that might otherwise be absent.
Lukas Ketner conveys these traits beautifully in his artwork. His Theseus is a handsome but youthful blonde. His father, Aegeus, is by contrast an elderly man suffering from a stroke injury. When compared to the massive King Minos, one understands why Aegeus may have turned over his city to the Cretan ruler. And with his thin frame, readers instantly understand why the brainy architect, Daedalus, would seek out someone else to rid Crete of its monstrous heir to the throne.
Color artist Jean-Francois Beaulieu adds to a lot of this as well, using darker blues and grays and sickly yellows in the backgrounds of his panels when presenting Minos, while using a more natural and healthy palette when showing off Theseus. Beaulieu and Ketner work together to present the story and give added dramatic moments such as the ship that arrives on the shores near Athens. Ketner presents the ship as being utterly massive, and Beaulieu contrasts the black sail with the bright blue of the sky and the reader instantly understands the dread felt by the characters in the moment.
Is It Good?
With an engaging lead, a brutal antagonist, and close attention paid to the myths of Ancient Greece and the cultures from which they sprang, Kill the Minotaur #1 is a superb debut that expertly weaves together legend and real-world grit. Writers Chris Pasetto and Christian Cantamessa create well rounded characters that add a sense of urgency to the classic tale, and artists Lukas Ketner and Jean-Francois Beaulieu give the story the beauty and drama it needs.
Kill the Minotaur #1 is set to be released on June 14, 2017.