Review: Olympus

Interview with Ace Masters


Book Released: 18 May 2005
Review posted: 21 May 2005

Writer: Geoff Johns, Kris Grimminger
Artist: Butch Guice
Letters: Moscow Eye
Publisher: Humanoids Publishing

 3.00 out of 5 Stars

Reviewed by Louis Vitela

Olympus is something we don't see all that often in comicdom these days: a stand-alone story with unique characters in a non-superpowered universe. In an industry that thrives on infinite prequels and sequels, it's nice to see a story that's outside of everything else and just fun. Olympus feels like it was meant to be that summer easy-reading novella that even in prose would be digested fairly quickly.

While the characters are fully-formed and have depth of their own, the story is simplistic, keeping with the summer-reading feel. It's a fairly simple yarn about present-day archeology students who stumble across the genuine Pandora's Box, but — whoops — flip open the lid before reading the label on the outside that reads,

At times I had the unsettling sense that this book was destined to become one of the mediocre monster movies that plague the Sci-Fi Channel on weekends.

“Caution: contains end of the world. Not safe to consume with alcohol.” The next thing they know they've been washed up on a mysterious island and are being chased down by a giant cyclops. Once they evade One Eye, they eventually get to meet all the heavy-hitting monsters from Greek mythology. Oh, and let's not forget the pirates who boarded the students' fishing boat before they were all transported to the island. The pirates and students end up working together to overcome the monsters: the students have mythology savvy and the pirates brought guns. At times I had the unsettling sense that this book was destined to become one of the mediocre monster movies that plague the Sci-Fi Channel on weekends. In addition to the monsters and pirates, it has pretty girls, one of whom spends the entire story in a string bikini. If that's not fodder for a “B” movie, I don't know what is.

The art in Olympus defies easy description. The colors have a chalky quality and the lines a thin, sketchy feel. Taken together, these features initially put me off. Yet after only a few pages I was completely sold — the art was perfect. The characters' expressions and postures were expertly rendered and were as much a part of the storytelling as the dialogue. Of note is the art in the storm scene near the beginning, the one that shows up minutes after Pandora's Box is opened. Some might consider the coloring too dark, but I could almost smell the coming rain under that black stormy sky, and the coloring foreshadowed the coming dark times as well.

Olympus' weak points are small but consistent. For example, I didn't like the lettering all that much. I thought it was small for the size of the balloons and that the inflections (indicated by bold words) were sometimes ill-placed. It didn't prove a huge distraction, but certainly noticeable. Also, some of the dialogue simply didn't work for me. Specifically, it was the swearing. Now, I'm not a prude. In fact I'm an expert at swearing. It comes so naturally to me that my baby daughter's first words are bound to be something rather unsavory. As such I feel qualified to say that the swearing in Olympus just didn't fit. It felt as though it was forced in to give the book a PG-13 rating. The surrounding dialogue was good enough to communicate the characters' anger and frustration without the foul language. (But then, maybe I am a prude.)

Overall, Olympus is what it claimed to be: an action-adventure story meant for a fun, casual read, though casual shoppers may be put off by the $14.95 price tag. (3 stars, strong language warning)