Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Pencils: Ryan Kelly
Colours: Jordie Bellaire
Image Comics Three #2 is another feast for the senses. Visually it is stunning and it has a story to match. In the first issue we were introduced to our eponymous ‘Three’ Helot slaves, and this second issue opens with them resisting the brutal slaughter from their Spartan ‘guests’, necessitating them to go on the run. Whereas the first issue focused on the Helot existence, this second issue gives a taste of what it was to be a member of the Spartan elite, as we are treated to some exposition in the council of Ephors. When word reaches Sparta of this Helot revolt, the Ephor’s instruct the Spartan King Kleomenes II to to pursue the three rebellious slaves. Needless to say, it is a task the Spartan King considers beneath him.
It is in this Spartan political arena that this issue really sings as we witness axes being grinded and knives twisted (metaphorically speaking). The fact that writer Kieron Gillen has called on the services of an expert in this classical period (Prof Stephen Hodgkinson of Nottingham University) bears much fruit in this issue. From the dynamics of Spartan elite society, nods to bisexuality among the Spartan upper classes and reference to the famous battle of Leuktra, we are not only being entertained but educated.
As for the art, the pencils from Ryan Kelly are sublime! Deeply expressive faces coupled with a majesterial ability to depict frighteningly realistic violence serve to bring Gillen’s often brutal tale to life.
Colours by Jordie Bellaire are yet again, magnificent. Her palette of red hues and earth tones evoke the period beautifully. Red guttering the panels depicting horrific slaughter is a lovely touch, as are the flashback sequences coloured gray and blotted with drips of blood. As I always say, Ms. Bellaire is one of the few colourists who’s name encourages me to pick up a book.
Overall Three #2 is a belter with a particularly excellent Q&A featuring Gillen and Prof Hodgkinson at the back. It fleshes out the story and period to wonderful effect, thus enriching the book. Three is an essential pull-list title; make it so.