Kieron Gillen’s revisionist look at Sparta continues this month in a more compelling issue than its debut. Due to a clarification of the narrative, the muddy exposition is out of the way and the story proper can begin.
“Three” is a historian’s dream. It’s a visual history of a place lost to time. Sparta doesn’t have much of its own memories in tact. The ramblings of those who opposed it fill our history books. So Gillen aims to tell a more robust history of the time and state. He succeeds admirably while also delivering a compelling story about slavery.
I wasn’t too sure of anything after I read the first issue of “Three.” A lot of groundwork was laid out, but there wasn’t a clear protagonist rising above the rest. Gillen treated readers to an interesting snapshot of history and didn’t even attempt to hold their hand. The results were a little disorienting albeit historically accurate.
The narrative becomes much more clear, and the title of the book makes a lot more sense. Gillen aims to tell a story about the reality of Sparta. What’s more is that he’s done an amazing amount of research to bring this area to life.
Ryan Kelly’s artwork shows Sparta at its peak. It was like looking into my classics textbooks from my undergrad. The visualization of the city seems spot on, and the character designs are more interesting and accurate than we’ve ever been treated too.
Kelly seems to really enjoy the pages that are soaked in blood, as he should. Here the book hits its full stride as the messy nature of combat translates through the art. Sword fighting was not elegant at this point in history. The Gladius was meant to tear flesh from bone, and make for quick deaths.
Kelly and Gillen give the reader something special in a book about Spartans. They give us civil dispute. That is to say that the Helots are done serving their masters and we get to see a lot of Spartans meet their end by the hand of less skilled warriors.
This is a fantastic device to show the strong society in a new light. The perspective of the disenfranchised is always more interesting within a powerful nation. Gillen seems to know this, and rides this detail to the bitter end. We’re given a fantastic tease as to where things are headed next, but the issue revels in the class dynamics it so powerfully establishes.
There are not many comics like “Three” it straddles the line between history and historical fiction. The interviews featured in the closing pages show the incredible amount of research that went into the book’s creation. I heartily recommend this series for any lovers of history, especially the classical age, as this is a look at Sparta unlike any other.
Rating: 4/5 Skulls.