This graphic-novel adaptation of The Odyssey has some beautiful panels and a few problems.
The Odyssey: a Graphic Novel by Gareth Hinds. Candlewick, 2010, 248 pages.
Reading Level: Teen, ages 12-15
Recommended for: ages 16-up
Sing to me, O Muse, of that man of many troubles/ Odysseus . . . who wandered far after he helped sack the great city of Troy.
The muse, however, takes us first to the Island of Ithaca, where Odysseus’s grown son Telemachus is trying to fend off his mother’s 100 arrogant suitors. The goddess Athene appears as an old man to tell Telemachus his father is still alive. Rather than just telling him where, however, she sends him to Menelaus, Agamemnon’s brother and one of the few survivors of Troy, for further news. Meanwhile, 47 pages in, we finally see Odysseus stranded on Calypso’s Island, profoundly discouraged until the messenger god Hermes appears to order his release. Calypso complies, but Poseidon still has it in for our hero. Fortunately (with the help of a mermaid), he swims to the Island of Phaecia where the King and Queen entertain him and hear his story—finally! That’s when we get to the famous tales of the Polyphemus the cyclops, Circe the sorceress, Scylla and Charybdis, and the Lotus Eaters.
Odysseus, after all his men have fallen prey to the furies or fates, eventually reaches home, where only his dying dog Argos recognizes him. It would help if the Gareth Hinds had included a character list at the beginning , as he did for The Iliad, (which was actually published several years later). The suitors are especially hard to sort out. Homer’s timeline is meandering and recursive, and the graphic novel follows the same scheme, but without a little background it’s hard to follow unless one is already somewhat familiar with the story. On the plus side, the artwork is brilliant and the prose above average, some of it borrowed directly from translations of the original work. Odysseus is a flawed hero, however, especially in his love life—see cautions.
Cautions: Sensuality (Odysseus had affairs with both Circe and Calypso; the former is shown nude and the latter in bed with the hero)
Overall rating: 3.75 (out of 5)
- Worldview/moral value: 3
- Artistic value: 4.5