Comics and mythology have always made a scorching couple, if an obvious one. Mythological heroes, with their elaborate origin stories and magical characteristics, have built-in story arcs that are imaginative and outlandish enough to build upon and take in a multitude of directions. What better vehicle for such tales than a comic book?
Even in a universe where a Norse god of thunder can team up with a humanoid rage-monster physicist and some other weirdos tbattle evil, Mythic is a complete trip of a comic, a fantastic hodge-podge of the world’s various folk tales. Phil Hester’s story pulls references from every corner of the chimerical realm, from Irish-Gaelic folklore to classical Greek myths, the characteristic devices of metaphor and personification firmly represented. But not, of course, without a sense of humor.
Mythic #2 begins in the north of Ireland where, in his giant form, the fabled Finn McCool emerges from his own Giant’s Causeway, presumably in anticipation of a showdown with a rival giant. A different field team from Mythic Lore Services is on the scene trying to manage the damage, with unexpected results. Meanwhile, picking up where we left off with the home team at the first issue’s end, Waterson’s tooth has successfully been knocked out by new recruit and former cell-phone tech Nate, causing the Apache shaman to release his “twin alter ego”—a huge fire- giant with a removable head known as the Killer of Enemies—in order to literally get it on with a mountain in order to end a drought. The mountain’s boyfriend, a stormcloud, gets jealous, and a spectacular fight breaks out. John McCrea’s dynamic art dominates the page and brings the clash to life, accented by Michael Spicer’s vibrant color work.
This is truly a book for mythology nerds (who would never bat an eye at the prospect of a mountain having a boyfriend, or that boyfriend being a stormcloud), the underlying assumption being that the reader is at least somewhat familiar with many of the mythological references and in-jokes (like the ongoing gag that no one in the comic takes Cassandra’s prophecies seriously). For instance, the legend of Finn McCool and how the Giant’s Causeway came to be, also used in Irish legend to explain the existence of the Isle of Man and the islet of Rockall. The removal of Waterson’s tooth could possibly be a nod to the buggane in the Finn McCool fable (though his tooth was removed and used as a weapon; hence it being a “nod”…and again, bastardizing/expanding upon an existing mythology, perhaps). In addition to the Killer of Enemies, a fiery presence that emerges under strange circumstances could be perceived as an homage to Aillen the “burner,” a feared creature who emerged on Samhain to wreak holy H-E-double-hockey-sticks upon Ireland (and later slain by Finn McCool. No implicit spoilers intended!). Willie Schubert’s expressive lettering—Celtic-style calligraphy for the Killer, the red fire speech of the enflamed creature expounding about how “all things burn”—could also be a clue. Regardless of the plethora of references, one need not be well-versed in the various cultures of verbal history represented here to enjoy Mythic. Even if you didn’t ace your college mythology courses—or even take any—chances are any fantasy-comedy fan will still laugh at and be in awe of its pages, excited for what comes next.