I’ve been a fan of Eric Shanower’s work for many years now. His in-progress magnum opus “Age of Bronze”
is a detailed retelling of the entire Trojan War. To quote his own web site: “While everything in Age of Bronze is based on existing sources, whether mythological or archaeological, the final product is a version for the 21st century. All the comedy, all the tragedy, all the wide canvas of human drama of the Trojan War unfolds within the pages of Age of Bronze.” It gets a strong recommendation from me.
I just recently read the latest issue in paper form. AoB is one of the few comics I still have to read that way, due to it not coming out in ebook form. But I discovered, in the back matter, that AoB is
, sort of, available digitally. The digital version
is not in the now-standard model, but is a standalone iPad (only) app that (so far) only covers the first four issues. But, balancing these unfortunate restrictions, the digital version adds a LOT.
Firstly, the issues have been colored, very well, by John Dallaire. Shanower’s B&W art was 9and is) excellent on its own, but color is a valuable tool, well-deployed. Personally, I have trouble differentiating faces (the trouble is more in my brain than in Shanower’s art), so having different colored clothes significantly eases my comprehension of the story, especially in scenes involving many characters.
Secondly, there is a “Reader’s Guide” by Thomas Beasley, a mini-essay accompanying (optionally) every page, with a wealth of commentary, questions to consider, and links to the sources that Shanower is drawing upon. These are *very* well done, and it can’t be an easy job. To properly comment on this story, you need an extremely thorough understanding of mythology, literature, archaeology, and the formal concerns of comic book storytelling. Beasley appears to have all these well in hand. I’m 3.5 issues in, and I’ve only had one minor disagreement with what he’s said, while his essays have enhanced my understanding and appreciation of the book from their already high levels. It’s informative and scholarly, while being written in language any layman could understand.
It’s not *perfect*, of course. There are formatting bloopers here and there, and the interface, though serviceable, could stand improvement. But at $0.99 per issue, this is astonishingly underpriced.
If you like comics, or mythology, or ancient history, or just good storytelling, I cannot recommend this app too highly. Buy all four issues – the fourth covers the seduction/abduction of Helen and is an absolute masterwork, not to be missed. Seriously, go buy this
; I want to encourage these folks to continue producing new issues.