Frank Miller is an interesting sort of comic creator. He has fans and people who think he’s a hack. You can’t argue with how huge an impact his most famous work, “300,” had on the industry. Frank Miller decided to make a prequel to this comic with “Xerxes: The Fall of the House of Darius and the Rise of Alexander.” The first issue does a fine job of pulling you in.
Taking place ten years before the “Battle of Thermopylae” (490 BC,) the Athenian army is battling the Persian army in the “Battle of Marathon” lead by General Miltiades. The Spartans are absent from this battle due to a religious festival.
As with “300”, this comic is mostly told through narration. While some may be put off by this, this is actually a great storytelling tool for this type of story. Reason for that is, this is supposed to be like a Greek epic with larger than life characters, epic battles and lines that nobody in real life would ever say. If you’ve ever read any epic, such as the famous “Iliad,” this is basically a comic book version of that.
The problem here is this type of storytelling doesn’t lend itself well to a serialized comic because this first issue feels way too short. It’s over before it even starts. While this won’t be a problem when the TPB comes along, for now, it leaves the reader unsatisfied.
Of course, one of the biggest problems some people will have is the historical inaccuracy of the comic. The main ones are the same as “300”: everyone, even the Spartans, wore armor, Xerxes most likely didn’t look like that and the Athenian army was not made up of potters, tailors, blacksmiths and fishermen.
The art is the same as “300.” The characters do look like the people seen on Greek pottery which is a nice touch and the color scheme is fine. That’s where the positives end. The character designs are ugly, the battle scenes tend to look ridiculous and some of the weapons, like the double spear used by Aeskylos, just look goofy.
If you can get past some of the downsides of the comic, “Xerxes: The Fall of the House of Darius and the Rise of Alexander” is a fine follow up to “300” that feels like a Greek epic poem but with pictures and will entertain “300” fans.