Here’s where it all starts: the beginning of the everything–the world, the gods, and even humanity. Mighty Kronos, the most terrifying of all the Titans, reigns as the unchallenged tyrant of the cosmos… until his son, the god Zeus, stands up and takes on his own father in a battle intense enough to shatter the universe! Who will emerge triumphant?
By George O’Connor
Publisher: First Second
Age Rating: All Ages
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A recent re-watching of the classic Clash of the Titans has inspired me to write this review. I’ve been in love with mythology since I was first introduced to the Greek myths in the 5th Grade. They were my gateway to other mythologies, such as Norse and Egyptian. Now, the Greek myths are getting a face lift of sorts. They are being retold in the way they were meant to be told; as tales of action and adventure, with monsters to be fought and maidens to be rescued. Zeus: King of the Gods tells the tale of not just Zeus’ beginnings, but also of the world and the Olympian gods themselves.
The Greek gods are like the original superheroes. They possess super powers such as invulnerability and the ability to transform, and yet were just as fallible as the humans they ruled. They suffer from all the same emotions and faults that humans do. When he is first introduced, Zeus is shown to be just as active and full of energy as any youth in his prime would be. He is impatient, reckless and a bit of a rake, as he chases the nymphs that watch over him and flirts with Metias. These are not the traits one would usually associate with their supreme being, but Zeus was all this and more. He was also brave and shows himself to be a born leader as he faced his father and freed his siblings.
There’s plenty of action in this volume, with Titans battling the Olympians, Zeus going on a quest to gain his birthright, and the final battle with Kronos, though most of it’s toward the end. The beginning is just that; the beginnings of the universe and the world. Gaea and Ouranos, and their children, the Titans Kronos and Rhea, and Kronos’ reign all have to be set up so that Zeus and his siblings have some to fight, and something to fight for. It also sets up a cycle of father against son, and warns you don’t anger Mother Earth.
Zeus: King of the Gods is great retelling of the original myth. It emphasizes the action and adventure that makes the myths thrilling, while still imparting it’s lessons. The other gods are introduced, with just the brothers Hades and Poseidon helping Zeus in the battle against Kronos and his brothers. It’s good to see the women show some sense and let the men bash their brains out. I liked how each sibling, when spit out, landed in an area that would become their domain; Poseidon in the sea, Hades under ground, Demeter in a field of grain. I also really enjoyed the small seeds that were planted through out the story, hinting to connections to other myths.
The art was very well done. O’Connor does a great job bringing the creatures of myth to life, especially the Cyclops and the Hekatonchieres, creatures with 50 heads and 100 hands. The Titans are just otherworldly enough to make the transition from Earth and Sky to the human sized Olympians.
If you love Greek mythology or are just a fan a tales of adventure, then this book is definitely for you. It’s definitely safe for a middle school library. Kids will love not just the story, but the extras at the end that give the stats for key characters, like a trading card, and parents and teachers will like the study guide and bibliography. There’s even included reading for younger readers. I highly recommend this title. It’s a great resource, and just plain great reading.
Check out the Good Comics for Kids Book Club for more on this title.
Review copy provided by publisher. Images © First Second