Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Review: The Titan's Curse (Graphic Novel) By Rick Riordan

     I love the cover image for this graphic novel. It's absolutely my favourite cover image out of all Riordan's books. There's something about Percy looking all powerful--looking like a true son of the sea god--but this image really stands out to me. I love the ghostly images of the Big Three, with Poseidon front and centre above his son. Each god looks ancient, powerful, and a little frightening. Poseidon looks wise and thoughtful, while we see Zeus' power and fury in his dark expression, lit up by a bolt of lightning. My sole complaint about the image is of Hades. He looks so...unappealing; unappealing and maybe a little Voldemort-esque (yes, I just made up that word and used it in a sentence!). The lord of the underworld shouldn't be appealing in the sense that Zeus is often depicted as appealing, but he's certainly not sinister. I do like the dark, celestial background his face appears in. It's alluring and makes me think of the afterlife. The flecks of gold make me think of the fires of Tartarus, though maybe I'm reading too much into the image after reading through HoH. Regardless, his expression and colouring of his face and eyes bothers me. Hades is misinterpreted 98% of the time as being a villain. If you read mythology (or Riordan, for that matter, it is clear that Hades is not evil. He's bitter, but not evil).

      Moving on, the artist has Thalia is on his left, holding Aegis, her terrifying shield and summoning lightning in her typical "daughter of Zeus" style, with Zeus' face above her. On Percy's right is Hades above poor little Nico Di Angelo (someone who I'm really starting to feel sorry for after reading HoH). Nico's skills are depicted with the skeletal zombies crawling out of the ground. 

     I really could go on and on about how much I love this image. Everything from Percy's expression to Nico's frightened, but determined stance in the background fits well with the content of the novel. I also am a fan of depicting Percy as a teenager, though in the book he's only in grade eight.

     This graphic novel is as action-packed as the other two before it, although my overall lower rating comes from my disappointment in one particular area: the representation of Riordan's characters. Aside from Hades, what really bothers me is the depiction of Thalia. I spent several minutes trying to figure out who the dark-haired boy with Percy was. Thalia is supposed to be a little bad-ass, with short, spiky hair, a leather jacket and combat boots, but I quite literally could not figure her out until Apollo showed up and named her as the daughter of Zeus. There were SOME pages where Thalia is shown very close up with thick lashes and feminine features (the cover included), but for the most part, she looks like a scrawny, poorly drawn male. I'm disappointed in the artist here, but also in Riordan failing to ensure that even if the artist wanted to do an interpretation of the characters, that at least the readers would be able to recognize Thalia for who she is.

     I mean, really, we really couldn't make Thalia LOOK like Thalia, when Riordan himself already has included an image of her in his book The Demigod Diaries; an image that also has appeared many times over Facebook?

     I also struggle with the fact that all the faces of the older men in this book look too intense and almost mean, no matter what emotion they are trying to convey. There's one scene where Chiron is comforting Percy, but his expression looks just downright cruel. I'm sad to critique the art of this graphic novel, but it really does bother me that there's a breakdown in the characters, which in turn, affects the narration of the story. Subjective interpretation is always a factor in these graphic novel-spin offs, but Thalia is so undefined and poorly represented that I, as an adult reader with an English degree, who has read the Percy Jackson book multiple times, had a lot of difficulty figuring out who the tall, scrawny boy was.

     The expressions of the characters are just as important. The dialogue is almost secondary to the images in a graphic novel, but in many of the scenes, to take away the dialogue would be to completely alter the story in the reader's interpretation. The book does a good job at capturing the story and it follows a trimmed version of he plot of The Titan's Curse but if you're looking for a more faithful adaptation, the first two graphic novels were far better. Here's to hoping The Battle of the Labyrinth is a bit more on the mark...

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