cover image The Mighty 12: Superheroes of Greek Myth

The Mighty 12: Superheroes of Greek Myth

Charles R. Smith, , illus. by P. Craig Russell. . Little, Brown, $16.99 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-316-01043-6

Future students of Homer get a handy checklist of muscle-bound Greek gods in this combo of mythology, comics and loose rhyme. Like a contemporary troubadour riffing on the ancients, Smith (Twelve Rounds to Glory ) furnishes poems on 12 immortals, including Zeus, Apollo, Artemis and Athena. (A concluding “Who's Who” indexes the characters and explains why the Gorgon Medusa is included rather than, say, underworld goddess Persephone.) An uppercase comics typeface, peppered with bolds and italics, emphasizes Smith's parallel between jealous Greek gods and American mythic figures in the Superman mold. Graphic novel illustrator Russell, working in the relatively muted palette of his Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde series, pictures the heroes and villains with flowing hair, ripped bods and strategically draped togas—or, in Zeus's case, a well-placed eagle's wing. The characters' dramatic, pouty-lipped poses are undeniably mannered, and the loquacious rhymes can overstretch. Even with the excesses, however, Smith and Russell make the pairing of classical material and a comics-like format look completely natural, with a gee-why-didn't-we-think-of-that simplicity. Ages 8–12. (Apr.)