Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Olympians: Hera: The Goddess and Her Glory, by George O'Connor

     Have you ever thought about why the sister and wife of Zeus, Hera, made the choices she made? The eternal enemy to Zeus's mistresses and illegitimate children, this goddess has easily been represented as the jealous and ruthless judge following her husband's scandalous misconduct. George O'Connor literally illustrates a new-found perspective on the method to Hera's madness in his graphic novel, Olympians: Hera: The Goddess and Her Glory.

      This depiction of the goddess of marriage starts with her initial decision to marry Zeus, a story rarely defined, then drops the reader straight into Hera's role in the 12 labors of Heracles (better known by his Roman alias as Hercules).  From the ever popular killing of the Hydra of Lerna, to the cleaning of the stables of Augeas, George O' Connor's graphic novel gives the reader a new perspective on Hera, whether the audience is previously exposed to the infamous goddess or not.

     The intertwining of myth and reality is a trending revolutionary effort in the realm of Young Adult Literature, as exemplified in American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. The use of interesting graphic shots in Yang's comic novel and George O'Connor's Hera help to activate and develop hidden meanings within the audience. This type of engaging narrative and new sense of understanding is to be expected in Olympians: Hera: The Goddess and Her Glory.

     I honestly did not know this novel would accomplish its goal in spurring deep reflection. However, after reading this novel multiple times, I can easily say that I was wrong. There is a positive side to every story. From watching Walt Disney's animated film Hercules, reading mythological books, and even watching the television action series "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys," there have been some contradictions in Hera's character. The television series intro below shows an example of the common perceptions of Hera; however, this is questioned by O'Connor's Olympians: Hera: The Goddess and Her Glory. Yes, the media take on these mythological characters was originally aired in the 90s (an era that many young adults today were not old enough to remember), but the description of Hera was the same: she was a jealous and resourceful wife. 


Nicole Dahl said...

I am a big fan of Greek mythology and this book sounds like it would be something I would really enjoy reading. It seems like it could be a great tool to use in classrooms to introduce students to Greek mythology, or as you indicate, to show students another side to the famous myths that is rarely shown. Students could identify all of the positives in each story, and make connections between each and their own lives or society. I also really liked your comment that "the use of interesting graphic to activate and develop hidden meanings within the audience." What a great observation as to how the graphic novel engages an understanding of the book.

amberK said...

I like how you relate this book to "American Born Chinese"; I thought that was a great example of a graphic novel and the shots/drawings told as much as the words. If "Hera" is anything like that, it must tell a great story. I am also intrigued about the perspective. I am not super familiar with Greek Mythology, but I know that she is usually vaguely portrayed, so this story seems like it would be an interesting insight to her personality and history.

Cessacolypse said...

I love mythology...and I love Hercules. After reading this review I'm pretty damn interested in giving this bok a good read. Connecting it to American Born Chinese also sealed the deal for me. Thanks.