On the basis of the one dollar price tag for 40 pages of story, “Greek Street” #1 deserves a look. In that regard, I cannot recommend this issue highly enough, because you would be a fool to not check it out. If my review were simply of the format/price, the book would warrant five stars, because Vertigo’s new initiative to provide low-cost first issues is a brilliant move, but this is a review of the content of this excellently priced comic and that’s where things get a little bit murky.
The concept for “Greek Street” is one that we’ve seen before: a reimagining of Greek myths in a modern context. Peter Milligan does score points here by using Greek tragedies and the characters from those as inspiration instead of simply using the Greek pantheon, an overdone idea. By drawing his inspiration from the mortals in Ancient Greek drama, Milligan breathes a bit of new life into the concept.
However, this issue never really gets going, stuck trying to get that concept across to the readers, walking the line between being too obvious about where each character draws its inspiration and being too vague. Some cases, like that of the book’s protagonist, Eddie, are obvious without actually referencing the point of inspiration directly, while others use the Greek name explicitly to get the point across. Milligan obviously hasn’t found the right balance yet, trapped between the influence of the Greeks and where he wants to go on his own.
That said, Milligan throws a lot at the readers here, laying all of his cards on the table right away, which should make future issues much less cumbersome with explanations. And, his twists on some of these Greek myths are interesting: while Eddie is obviously a modern Oedipus, he is one that purposefully seeks out the mother who abandoned him, he’s not royalty, and, most shockingly, his eyes aren’t the body part he tries to get rid of.
Vertigo fans know artist Davide Gianfelice from his work on “Northlanders” and he seems perfectly at home in contemporary London. His line work is clean, a nice balance between cartoony and realistic elements. His character designs are also strong, each character looking unique and different. Too often in books like this, characters blend together visually, especially visual minorities, but Gianfelice sidesteps that problem ably. Although most of the issue is very down to Earth, some scenes also call for more fantastic visuals, and Gianfelice nails them -— and given Milligan’s track record, more surreal and otherworldly images will pop up in each issue, so Gianfelice’s ability to shift between the real world and that of fantasy/nightmare will be put to good use.
While “Greek Street” #1 never goes beyond setting up the concept and introducing characters, it does show potential as it seems to play to the strengths of both Milligan and Gianfelice. That and it’s 40 pages for a dollar! Go buy it already!
(You can check out CBR’s preview of the issue, but the comic is only a buck, so just go buy it instead!)