Don’t let the fact that this is a comic deceive you; Aphrodite, Goddess of love is one of the most sophisticated and engaging explorations of Greek mythology you’ll ever read. Not only does it give a faithful portrayal of the original Greek myths, but it also elaborates on the characters and explores some of the attitudes behind them.
This story gives an introduction to the myths surrounding the great Goddess Aphrodite, beginning with the creation of the Titans and the Gods, her creation (albeit less clam shells and nudity- this is still a children’s book) and ending with the first seeds of the Trojan war being sown. The first thing we see of her is a pair of eyes in a cloud of pink fog, seductive, mysterious and dangerous. We see that pink fog slither to form a woman’s body; then we see a pair of lips, then a face rising from the water. We see the shock waves being sent across the world of the Gods, as each one is drawn to her and enthralled by her. I love that in this she’s ancient, powerful and terrifying. Sex and desire are older than the human race and has had unparalleled control over us since the dawn of humanity. It’s desire’s ability to overcome their precious reason which played a big part in the ancient greek’s fear and hatred of women, and this is subtlety portrayed throughout this whole book.
I love the artwork throughout, and way the original Greek characters are portrayed. Aphrodite is a gorgeous WOC with dark skin and thick, luscious curly hair. In a culture where white skin, sleek hair (and usually blue eyes and blondness) are the epitome of beauty to the detriment of anything else, having a dark skinned, wavy haired woman standing center stage as the epitome of beauty is wonderful to see. Granted, it was a bit odd seeing a blond, gold eyed boy as her offspring, but considering this is a universe where Zeus managed to carry a child to term in his thigh, this really isn’t much of a suspension of disbelief. I liked that there were other dark skinned characters in the form of Pygmalion and one of the charities, Aglaia. Okay, Aglaia was a narrator whose role was very similar to that of the muses from Disney’s Hercule, but none the less it was still good to see a beautiful black woman in a world that is usually completely white.
Zeus is also looking great. In most portrayals, he is just an old man with a beard, but here he has is also young and muscular. This is a far more faithful portrayal to the original Greek myth, where as king of the Gods he’s handsome and physically powerful. It isn’t just Zeus’ appearance that is perfectly rendered; Zeus’ personality is spot on. As well as being a wiley old womanizer, Zeus is shown to be a cunning and astute politician. When he first sees Aphrodite and the effect she is having on the Gods, he realises what chaos could ensue. It’s a very subtle scene, but we see a close up of the smiles of the competing Gods surrounding Aphrodite turn to grimaces, with beautiful Aphrodite laughing in the centre of all the male attention. This, of course, is foreshadowing to the Trojan war where dozens of men will die because of a fight over a woman.
In a very cunning move, Zeus marries her off to the hideous Hephaestus, so none of the men can fight over her. It’s this consistent cunningness and foresight which makes Zeus truly believable as King of the Gods.
There’s a lot of subtle humour and clever moments throughout- like Hera pointing out that Athena competing in a beauty pageant is very out of character for the androgynous virgin- a plot hole in the myth that was first pointed out by Euripides in Women of Troy.
Everything about this book is perfect and if you’re interested in Greek mythology or have a kid who would like to learn about it (the comic is rated 9 and above), then get this. This is one of the best things I’ve read, and you won’t be disappointed.
5 golden apples / 5