Three #2 is the most excited I’ve been about a series since the debut of Zero earlier this year. Now I know that’s not saying much considering Zero was only started two-three months ago, but this just shows the kind of anticipation a series can build for itself on good word-of-mouth alone. Kieron Gillen alone will be forever recognized for Phonogram and Journey into Mystery, and Three is the next stepping stone towards this immediate recognition. Hell, Three #2 will especially be recognized for its brutal subversion of the Frank Miller book 300, which I talked about in my last review of the series.
The Spartans are portrayed in a way where they act like the upper echelon of society but in reality are actually brutal savages that will rape and pillage to their will. For the most part, the opening six pages are silent and instead focus on the visual imagery of the Spartans’ low-class warfare. Nobody gets spared in the wake of the destruction. Yet in the next four pages, the role reversal happens a little bit. The Helots become more animalistic than the Spartans, if only to save their own lives. And what does the one remaining Spartan do? He flees. He flees because he recognizes that he is not as infallible as he once thought he was.
The biggest thing that comes to mind when reading this is class warfare. Class is definitely one of the central thematic plot devices of the series so far, and it expands beyond recognition of poor is poor and rich is rich into class reversal where the poor become rich in a thematic sense that they have demonstrated their abilities to the Spartans and are able to combat them on a small scale. The Spartans become poor in that they lose a battle and begin to understand that they have a weakness that, while not particularly well known, could easily become known if the three Helots are chatty enough about it.
This sounds like a bit of a redux of my last review but this stuff is extremely central towards understanding the story. A lot of this is based in history and academia which Gillen manages to twist into his own clever, part political allegory, part historical fiction that’s just a richly rewarding read, especially with the supplementary information in the back of the book giving a more in-depth look at Sparta.
I can’t say enough great things about Kelly’s art either. It’s realistic enough to keep things serious and central to real world history but he manages to toss in a number of spectacularly gory moments. Hell, the fact that the opening sequence was mostly silent shows just how much Gillen trusts Kelly to carry the book, and I wouldn’t mind seeing a full silent issue in this series at some point and just letting Kelly strut his stuff. Bellaire’s colors also enhance his work, focusing on defining the very real-world aesthetic going on here.
Three #2 is something that I would definitely recommend to anyone looking to get into something completely different than everything else out there. This is comics for history nerds and is certainly one of the smarter books out there.