I love Greek mythology. I based my Alice Zero series on mashing Greek myths with Alice in Wonderland. I just had the opportunity to finish a great book by the incredible Michael Oden. Michael is a passionate dude that digs his literature and our chat upcoming on the podcast showcases this. But reading this, I had a bit of a chuckle going into this. When Michael talked about it to me, I couldn’t help but wonder if this comic would be a Mortal Kombat riff (and no doubt, there are some things that are similar.) What I got was a surprisingly touching story about Achilles and a glimpse of who he was.
Created and Written by Michael Oden
Illustrated by Marcelo Oliviera Costa
Lettered by Luke Stone
Publisher: 9 Realms Publishing
Elysium Fields begins with Achilles meeting his fate on the battlefield at the hands of an enemy. He finds himself in the Elysium Fields where he finds his beloved comrade, Patroclus, and sought peace and his own happily ever after. It doesn’t last long as very shortly after Achilles is ferried away to the underworld and is forced to fight with Theseus against the titanic duo of Gilgamesh and Enkidu. The different characters from the greatest stories in history are fighting each other, due to something with Hades. The arena is in the underworld, and there is something Hades is gaining with this.
That sounds so simple but the truth is the book is far more complex, and this is a great example of both Oden and penciler Marcelo Oliviera Costa working well together. The openings scenes of Achilles’ final battle before dying show him as just the kind of hero you’d expect from Ancient Greece. He was strong and unstoppable. His end almost seemed like a fluke here, which adds something to how his last moments stood.
We next see Achilles with his love, and that is very short-lived. Very quickly Achilles loses absolutely anything he had. His life, his love, and everything he knew was taken from him. You feel for him, and wish that Hades would leave him the hell alone. It would piss me off too. It explains Achilles’ eagerness to take some of his frustrations out on his opposition without an explanation perfectly. Sometimes, with all that grief and anger, you just need something to hit.
That said, I have a soft spot for Theseus. He feels like a grizzled, wily veteran that has been through many combats. He’s adaptable, filled with dark humor, and feels oddly loveable. I imagine Oden had as much fun writing him as I did reading him.
The art is incredible. Costa does a great job of making everything large and grand. He gets the tone and does a good job of showing some subtle and not so subtle differences between this world and the underworld. Everything feels big, whether it be Achilles’ final battle on earth or the arena in the underworld. Costa makes this book feel like an event and is able to convey the tragic elements of Achilles and make him vulnerable.
Luke Stone is a great letterer and designer. The credits are genius and even if I’m a poor judge of the quality of letters, Luke contributes to what’s presented serviceable and efficiently. This is a great issue one of any series. I can’t recommend it enough. I’m curious who will win the fight, or more specifically, how.
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My first audiobook I narrated is Duatero by Brad C. Anderson. Stay tuned for more details soon. In the meantime, the latest podcast is at the bottom of the page. Give it a click. In the meantime, Check out my book Alice Zero and my novel The Cloud Diver if you like what you read here. Stay inspired until my next column, which will hopefully be soon.