Book Review : Rage of Poseidon

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ā€œStill, you think to yourself, with gritted teeth, you’d do the same thing over again. In the end, things have not turned out so well, but there was a look in that creature’s eye all those many years ago. And as for the gods who chained you here, the gods are forgotten. And that is the sweetest revenge.ā€

Have you ever wondered what happened to the Greek gods after people ceased to believe in them? Maybe they look on. Maybe they wonder.

Prometheus. The Rage of Poseidon.

Prometheus. The Rage of Poseidon.

Anders Nilsen’s Rage of Poseidon takes a darkly humorous look at gods both pagan and Christian coexisting with today’s humans and the absurdity of transposing some of the well-known Biblical stories into the modern age. There are seven tales of varying lengths: Poseidon, Isaac, Leda and the Swan, Prometheus, the tale of what went on behind the scenes during the great flood and Noah’s Ark, a story about Athena, and a short story on Jesus and Aphrodite. Each tale is enjoyable, but the one I found the most interesting is “The Girl and the Lion”, about Athena who tries to do what Christians believe that Jesus did: a god becomes a human and lives on Earth. However, Athena is inspired by a tale that one of her fellow Greek gods tells her: that of a girl who martyred herself, refusing to renounce her Christian beliefs. Each story has its own element of past gods being able to follow around gods that religious people believe in, but this story seemed to address it the most.

The simplicity of the sentences, usually only a few sentences per page, combined with the artwork (which fills up most of the page), make this book seem deceptively simple at first glance. The book itself is interesting to look at: it is a sturdy board binding that houses between its covers an accordion of thick paper that comprises the book. If you’re not careful, the accordion can just unfold onto the floor. (Not fun.) For those who aren’t familiar with reading things in second person, the prose may seem difficult to ease into at first, but it is well worth the adjustment time: it flows well and reads like poetry, almost prophetic in its tone. The only nitpick that appears in the book is that Nilsen uses both Greek and Roman terms to discuss the pagan gods, sometimes in the same story, which is a bit annoying (for instance, Poseidon/Jupiter). Still, this book is more than well worth a read.

Rage of Poseidon
Anders Nilsen
Drawn and Quarterly, 2013