All this month I'll be reviewing different comic books with LGBT themes (LGBT standing for "Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender"), based on submissions from the actual creators of the comic books themselves. Here is an archive of the comics featured so far!
Today we take a look at issues #4-7 of Pam Harrison's historical epic, House of the Muses.
Two years ago, I reviewed the first three issues of this series. You can check that review out here. Looking at that review, it is funny to me that I can basically just cut and paste the first complaint I had into this review, as well. So that's exactly what I am going to do! But I don't want to lead with a complaint, so I'm going to leave it for the end of the piece!
House of the Muses is about a young woman from Sparta who ends up on Lesbos, where she studies with the legendary Sappho. The series details the life of this young woman, Dika, as she deals with her burgeoning powers as an oracle. Her story is set against the various inter-relations of the people on the island, as well as the interactions with the politics of the other city-states of Greece.
Harrison packs each issue with TONS of story - we're talking about roughly 46 pages of story in EACH issue. That's 180 pages of story in four comics! They're $6.50 each, but still - that's a ton of story!
Meanwhile, she weaves an impressive tale of political intrigue mixed with just inter-personal intrigue. Dika is a compelling heroine.
In issue #4, we see her with her instructor, Hero, who has more than a little crush on Dika...
Dika's heart is reserved for another, however. The romance between Dika and Timas is definitely a highlight of the series. Harrison handles it with a beautiful tenderness that really makes you feel the bond and the connection between the two characters.
Pretty charged stuff, eh?
It gets a lot trickier when Dika gets a vision of Timas' demise. She then pushes Timas away to protect her. It's quite heartbreaking stuff.
In #5, a major new player is introduced - Gorgo of the House of Penthilos, who opens up a rival school. As of the ending of #7, the conflict between the two schools seems to be the highlight of the end of the series and the end of Sappho herself!!!
This is a charged, emotional title filled with well-molded characters engaged in interesting adventures. As I've said, each issue is a hefty read, but it as enjoyable, rewarding one.
The series is recommended.
However, as I said, I do have a notable complaint. Here is the complaint I said two years ago...
I’m honestly not a fan of the 3-D art style that Pam Harrison uses for House of the Muses. I think it is a very impressive level of 3-D art, and it is remarkable that she is able to tell such a completely realized story with 3-D art and not have it look ridiculous. That’s to her great credit. She’s a whiz with 3-D art, it appears. That said, I just don’t think that even the best 3-D art has gotten to the point where I personally dig it. That’s just me. I am not saying that the art is BAD, by any means (heck, I think Harrison is probably one of the best 3-D comic book artists that I have seen), just that it does not appeal to me.
I will add to that original statement that my main concern is that 3-D art hasn't yet captured the art of natural human facial expressions, and in a book that is about 90% character interaction, having odd-looking facial expressions during the pages is not fun. This is not Harrison's fault, of course, as that is just the limitations of Poser. That said, I think I will qualify an earlier statement. I think Harrison is probably the best 3-D comic book artists that I have ever seen.
But however great her skills are, it still results in some pages where I'm taken out of the scene. For instance, take this very heartfelt scene from the beginning of issue #4...
I'm personally taken out of the scene by the goofy facial expressions.
But despite the 3-D art, this is still a good series!!