Betrayal (Age of Bronze #3A)
by Eric Shanower
Image Comics, 2007
High King Agamemnon lusts to conquer the wealthy city of Troy. On the island of Tenedos, just off the coast of Troy, Achilles leads the attack. When the dust settles, Achilles finds himself one step closer to his tragic fate. Meanwhile, the Trojans prepare their defenses and gather allies. Agamemnon’s offer of a peace embassy to King Priam reassures few. War appears inevitable. Even Helen dreads to face what lies ahead for her and everyone she loves or once loved.
This volume is most likely called “Betrayal” because there are various betrayals going on in it. You have the ultimate one, which this whole story is built upon – that of Helen leaving Menelaus for Paris – but there are other, smaller ones that I hadn’t been aware of until reading this. This book starts off with the Greeks landing on a nearby island to Troy, Tenedos, and killing the rulers of the island, a brother and sister who happen to be children of Apollo. This is important because Achilles was supposed to avoid any children of Apollo, because it was prophesied that he would kill one and then Apollo would later get his revenge on Achilles by causing his death. Achilles, in typical hot-headed fashion, however, gets away from the guy who was supposed to protect him from this (since he was able to “see” children of Apollo), and ends up killing not one but both of Apollo’s kids. Oops.
Anyway, betrayal number one happens when Paris decides to try a sneak attack and kill Menelaus on Tenedos; he gets found on the island though, and barely escapes. Prior to this, however, one of the Greek princes gets bit by a snake while they’re trying to sacrifice 100 bulls (Kalchas, the Trojan priest who hooked up with the Greeks for reasons unknown – and has been trying to waylay them with his more and more outrageous prophecies – told Agamemnon that the Greeks needed to do exactly what Hercules did when he initially sacked Troy, which included the sacrifice mentioned above), and ends up devolving into madness which ultimately results in Odysseus putting him on a ship by lying to him, getting him drunk, and depositing him and his men on an island by themselves because they can’t stand anymore of his raving. This is betrayal number two.
The story culminates with an envoy of Greeks going to Troy to try to work out a peace treaty to avoid war, but both sides are aware that this is impossible and isn’t going to work. The third betrayal involves some Trojan men (possibly sent by Paris; this is never really determined) attempting to assassinate the Greek envoy, who have been granted safety by Priam until he can think over their requests (which he knew he was going to deny, but was simply trying to buy time to allow Troy’s allies to get there). The final betrayal involves Laodike, a daughter of Priam, cheating on her new fiance, Helikaon, with a Greek prince named Akamos (he doesn’t realize she’s Priam’s daughter, mind).
My favorite part was probably when Menelaus comes face-to-face with Helen; he’s still so completely in love with her, and she’s starting to feel guilty about what she did to him. I also liked the fact that Andromache, Hector’s fiancee who had just arrived in Troy a couple of days before, stood up to Helen and basically called her out for being an arrogant bitch and not really loving Paris but loving everyone else’s adoration of her beauty. Andromache is fierce! Paris was his usual prickish self – every time Menelaus attempts to remind Helen of what she left behind, he has a stupid rebuttal (like, “remember our daughter” and Paris saying something along the lines of, “why should she care about one child when she has our sons plus the one she’s currently carrying?” Ugh, Paris, I want to slap him pretty much every time he shows up in this story, seriously). I am starting to like Helen’s maidservant more and more because she, like Andromache, lets Helen know exactly what she thinks, especially about Paris, and it makes me LOL.
One other thing I noticed in this volume was the interesting and funny things taking place in the background of each of the pictures. Some of them are downright hysterical, like when Agamemnon is talking to Odysseus about Kalchas’ prophecy of sacrificing 100 bulls. In the background you see two other men walking, and also a goat. In the next frame, the goat has grabbed hold of one of the guy’s cloaks, and the other man is trying to shoo him away. The last frame shows the man holding his cloak up with a huge chunk missing out of it. Meanwhile, the conversation between Agamemnon and Odysseus is going on in the foreground of the picture. There were little things like this throughout and it just made the book all the more fun to read. I am definitely looking forward to the next installment, although I’m betting it’s unfortunately going to be a long wait.