By Geoff Johns, Kris Grimminger, and Butch Guice (Humanoids/DC Comics; 2005)
This is kinda fun, a whiz-bang graphic novel about a bunch of goofball college students on a research project in the Aegean Sea. The madness begins when a couple of the students dredge up the mythical Pandora’s Box–actually a vase with striking markings on its side. In quick succession a band of machine gun-wielding terrorists hijack the students’ boat and a freak storm strands them all on an unidentified island.
This island appears deserted but for a bunch of mythological statues. One of those statues, of a giant Cyclops, springs to aggressive life–and most of the rest follow suit! Pandora’s vase is the apparent culprit, and also the key to making things right again. Luckily the students happen to be studying Greek mythology and so are uniquely equipped to deal with this predicament. But they’ve got the trigger-happy terrorists to contend with, in many ways an even greater menace than all the creatures.
No, this tale isn’t especially complex or profound. It appears to have been conceived with a movie sale in mind, what with its action-oriented narrative that never digs too deeply into the folklore it plunders (the set-up recalls Jean Ray’s mythology-based horror classic MALPERTUIS, but I strongly doubt OLYMPUS’ creators have read that novel) and uniformly one-dimensional characterizations.
The colorful, photo-realistic artwork by Bruce Guice is impressive in its rendering of such critters as Medusa the snake-haired gorgon, whose gaze is capable of turning people to stone (which we know because one of the protagonists helpfully intones “He just turned to stone” after this occurs), and the minotaur, who guards a giant maze located inside a cave.
Other fun cameos are provided by a giant sea serpent, an army of skeleton warriors, a gaggle of man-eating birds and a bunch of flying stallions, which actually prove helpful to the heroes. As a bonus, the mayhem is often accompanied by quaint sound effects–“HYSSSS!,” “FOOOMM!,” “SSKKORIIIEEE!”–that give the whole thing a pleasing EC Comics feel.