An ironic and engrossing contemporary revisitation of the myth of Heracles, the prototype of the hero, and of his bloody struggle against fate
by Nicola D’Agostino and Serena Di Virgilio
Greek mythology revised and amplified through the lens of superhero aesthetics: this is Spanish comic creator David Rubìn’s approach for his newest work, The Hero. The first volume of the graphic novel has been published in Italy (as L’eroe) by Tunué and in the USA by Dark Horse as a thick and colorful book of almost 300 pages.
The Hero is a contemporary transposition of the classic epic tale that doesn’t water down the fascination of the original fantastical and mytholo- gical elements. On the contrary, they get freshened up thanks to dynamic and engaging storytelling, with abundant doses of pathos and moments of introspection.
The comic is a loose reinterpretation of the first six labours that Heracles has to face, imposed to him by fate. Rubìn roughly keeps the original elements of the story, such as the tyranny of King Eurystheus, Hera’s ha- tred and his relationship with mentor Chiron and friend Theseus, but the author also takes quite a few liberties.
Hence the pursuit of the Ceryneian Hind is transformed into a tale of love and death, the Erymanthian Boar also serves as a harsh punishment of the King of Arcadia and the Stymphalian Birds are revealed to be horrible bio-mechanical robots.
To add >a more contemporary flavour, Heracles uses a katana, gets around in a red sports car and blasts music in ears with an iPod while cleaning the Augean Stables.
The author goes so far as to show Olympian gods playing with action figures of comic characters and talking on mobile phones as their adven- tures play on giant screens and get discussed in talk shows.
David Rubìn’s drawings, cartoonish and extremely dynamic, are one the greatest assets of the book. His art shines in action scenes and at same times is great at showing characters’ emotions.
His love of Jack Kirby is explicitly stated in the prologue, where a young Rubìn reads a story by the “King” and daydreams about his future as a comic book author. But there’s more: The Hero includes stylistic solutions derived from manga, an excellent use of color, and graphical surprises and metafictional moments which all add up to enrich the reinterpretation of the stories, and the enjoyment of the reader.