“Age of Bronze” is a series that shows up a little erratically these days; it’s been two years since the last installment. But I think every “Age of Bronze” fan out there will agree with me when I say this: if it takes two years to turn out such high-quality comics, then that’s perfectly reasonable. Creator Eric Shanower’s “Age of Bronze” #32 is another top-notch comic and a reminder of the strength of the medium.
If you’ve never read “Age of Bronze,” it’s Eric Shanower’s attempt to create the definitive Trojan War comic. This might not sound like too big of a project, but Shanower isn’t taking the traditional “fast forward from the abduction of Helen to the arrival of the Trojan Horse” method. We’re going step-by-step through the saga, and saga is the best word to describe what results. This new issue involves Cressida being given to the Greeks (where her turncoat father already resides) as part of a hostage exchange, even as Prince Troilus pines for the loss of his love.
What “Age of Bronze” #32 presents is a book dominated by a deliberately disturbing scene in which Cressida is brought into the Greek camp and is promptly beset upon by the leaders of the forces. King Agamemnon is only the first to make physical advances on her, and the way in which she’s passed from one to the next as they attempt to “take the frost off her” as they grope and kiss her is a reminder that neither side is that admirable in the Trojan War. Shanower doesn’t ever take the easy way out in “Age of Bronze” and this issue is no exception.
Shanower’s delicate lines bring the comic that much more to life. Cressida’s forlorn look back at Troilus as she’s being led away is heartbreaking, but even more dramatic is the look of horror on her face when Agamemnon begins to try and make her his own. The wide eyes are drawn in a way that just exudes fear, and her frantic attempts to fight back are both full of energy and desperation. It’s an upsetting sequence to read, and a lot of that is thanks to Shanower’s art. The quieter moments are just as well drawn, though. Troilus visiting Cressida’s empty home is a sad moment, as you see the loss in his face. The backgrounds are beautiful in “Age of Bronze” too; Shanower’s gone to great efforts to make Troy look like a real city, with no generic settings ever being served up.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about “Age of Bronze” #32 is that it’s been two years since the last issue and I never felt lost or confused or out of touch. “Age of Bronze” is an amazing series that every comic book reader should be buying. It’s got drama, adventure, betrayal, humor and everything else that an epic should contain. Even when the book is downright depressing, the level of craft here is so strong that it’s still ultimately a joy to read. Check it out.