If you like comics and archaeology, and you haven’t at least taken a look at Eric Shanower’s epic Age of Bronze, you’re missing out.
Writer/artist Shanower is telling the story of the Trojan War in comic form, and I mean the whole story — the abduction of Helen, Achilles hiding among the women, Troilus and Cressida. Not just the Iliad, but everything that’s anything to do with the story. It’s an entirely human tale — no gods, although the characters certainly believe in them — and it’s compelling reading.
What’s really exciting to me is the amount of research that Shanower does to bring his Troy to life in honest-to-Schliemann Bronze Age glory. Age of Bronze is one of the only comics I love enough to collect it both in trades and in singles, and every time I’m somewhere with a good comics shop, I look around to fill in the gaps in my collection. The most recent time I was in the US, I picked up several back issues, including this special:
This is the special in which Shanower just talks about the research he did to prepare for the book and the decisions he made (such as basing the Trojans on the Hittite culture). There’s pages of great stuff like this:
I have a lot of time for this. Every issue of the comic also contains a section of literary and archaeological discussion — basically footnotes — in which Shanower goes behind the scenes of the book.
I love this comic a lot. So what’s wrong with it?
Well, the most important problem with Age of Bronze is that it comes out … basically every once in a while. I’ve been collecting it since about 2003 or so, and it hasn’t made it to issue 40 yet. The fighting at Troy has really only just started.
Now, if you want to read this book, all that means is that you should pick it up in trade, rather than trying to follow it “monthly.” The first volume deals with the origins of the war, while the second volume is about the buildup to the conflict and the Iphigenia story. After that, you have the third volume, in which the war actually starts. This is split into part one and part two. You can also pick up the first issues for iOS, with colour and annotations and all kinds of stuff.
Seriously you guys, it is pretty good. You can read my copies if you come to my house, but you can’t borrow them. They are mine.