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September 20, 2010

Comic Review: Mythoi Book I: Birth

Mythoi is an upcoming comic series that follows multiple heroes through various times and places, all on their own quests. Its first book, “Birth,” begins the sixty-issue series the origins of the heroes' journeys. It features, by way of its multiple tales, influences from all over: Eastern, Western, ancient, futuristic, high and low fantasy, and Mother Goose. But should you pick it up?

After a highfalutin introduction that wants to be insightful but isn't grounded enough, I was worried that the subject of the comic (mythos) would exalt itself and thus become unintelligible, melodramatic, and not relatable.

I was surprised, then, to start the story with action, violence, and tragedy, none of it too self-indulgent. The first tale features a combination of biblical characters and Old English personalities from “Beowulf,” all of whom were wrapped up in a quick and bloody origin story for an immortal named Wiglaf. It was told in few words, and was over as quickly as it began. It was exciting, and I was left with a million questions. The brevity of the story, however, left the character and plot development lacking.

The art is impressive. It's curvy, like Disney movies of the 90s, but also descriptive and gory. I think the varied environments and time periods in which these stories occur helps the art remain fresh. Its pictures are often large, giving the reader a good look at the scenes, and making Mythoi an incendiarily fast page-turner.

And, to answer the criticism I had of the first five stories—that they lacked content—writer James Ninness finished Book I with a fairy tale printed in text, and a few primitive pictures. The comic book became a book book! What I loved about this final piece of the puzzle was the depth and description. It highlighted what I enjoyed about Mythoi: readers will find names from myths, religions, and so on, but in entirely different contexts. The new, twisted stories aren't especially original—they all rely on heavy one-liners—but they are far from what you might expect.

Still, like I said earlier, most of the stories wanted more content than they provided. What the creators of Mythoi wanted was a fast-paced, intense, dramatic, in medias res experience. But dropping readers into the middle of an event that ought to be the origin of these characters journeys might prove a little too fast. What I hope to see in later issues is many steps backwards in time. Flashbacks would help immensely.

Ninness says that Mythoi's characters are the rejected ones; they are changing the state of their surroundings by proactively pursuing something new or different. And I agree. And though more depth would help these origin stories, the great thing about “Birth” is that readers see the momentum building fast before their eyes.

Score: 3 out of 5
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