Featured image taken from Rachel Smythe’s Tumblr
I have two major weaknesses: puppies, and Greek mythology. Reading Lore Olympus, I was already at a severe disadvantage for both. C’mon, how can anybody say no to an awkward, love-struck Hades who owns seven dogs? The same Hades who is in love with shy, innocent Persephone, the literal embodiment of everything good in this world?!
Okay, maybe I exaggerate. But if you’re a fan of Greek mythology – heck, if you’re a fan of love – I found this webcomic to be the perfect blend of both. It thoughtfully re-imagines the Grecian gods we know and love in modern times, faithfully adapting the characters from myth into deeply complex individuals of their own.
Yes, that also means the gods have smartphones, social media, hang out at bars, and have morning brunches together. It is absolutely perfect.
But if you’re not yet sold, here are a few reasons why you should check it out:
1. It is about the most (in)famous love story in Greek mythology, The Taking of Persephone
The story is simple: Hades, God of the Underworld, falls in love with Persephone, daughter of Zeus and Demeter, also known as the Goddess of Vegetation. Not the sexiest title in the world, I know, but Hades falls for her anyway. That’s why he decides – in true Grecian god fashion – to abduct her and forcibly make her the Queen of the Underworld, causing vegetation to stop growing in the mortal realm in her absence.
Pressed by the hungry pleas of humans, Zeus forces Hades to return Persephone to the mortal realm. But before Hades does so, he tricks Persephone into eating pomegranate seeds from the Underworld which would forever bind her to the place. Henceforth, Persephone is allowed to spend two-thirds of every year at home in the mortal realm, but forced to spend the remaining one third in the Underworld (Winter time) serving her duties as Hades’ wife and the Queen of the Underworld.
While the actual romance between Hades and Persephone may be debatable, that hasn’t stopped fans from putting on their romance goggles. Personally, I think Rachel Smythe’s take on the tale beats the rest to Olympus and back!
2. Rachel Smythe’s art style will transport you into another universe!
In one word, her art style is DYNAMIC! A fresh breath of air from the straight edges and clean lines of most webcomics, the art in Lore Olympus is bold and daring; a rave of contrasting colours and shapes that will draw you into the world like a magnet. Bonus points for Smythe’s colour choice for each character, which makes it easy to differentiate them from one another, while also being – in some cases – poetic.
In a Q&A, Smythe explained her reasoning for Persephone’s bright pink hues versus Hades’ dark blue tones. This was because she wanted Persephone to really “pop out” whenever she visited the Underworld which – like Hades – is made up of deep blue environments. The same would happen for Hades when he visited Persephone’s pastel pink environments.
If you follow me and take it a step further, don’t you think it also kind of represents their nature as star-crossed lovers? Or am I just shipping them too hard?
3. You will instantly fall in love with these characters and their backstories
In the case of a retelling, it is important that the characters spice up a story that readers are already familiar with. What I love is how Smythe has taken the core components of each character’s personality (e.g. Hades’ moody disposition and Persephone being sheltered by Demeter) and enhanced it. Not exaggerate it, like a lot of other retellings (or even, fanfictions) do, but provide reasons why the characters are the way they are and build on their character development from there.
At the point I am writing this, I’ve just read the beginning of Eros’ backstory and I am so in love with the way Smythe adds complexity to these characters! She doesn’t dilute them to just one character trait, but provides reasoning behind their actions that add depth and endears the reader to them. Even the minor characters aren’t exempted from this. (God bless, indeed.)
4. It will convert you into a Greek mythology fan (if you aren’t one already)
Mythology can be dry, I will admit. But Smythe has done a brilliant job of deconstructing the ancient myth and placing its characters in a setting that’s much more familiar to us; filled with technology, hook-ups, and skyscrapers, while maintaining some of the more “traditional” aspects of Grecian lore, like Zeus’ and Poseidon’s multiple wives for example.
I can tell she’s done her research with this because her world building and character portrayals are incredibly thoughtful and filled with nuance. One of my favourite moments so far is Aphrodite and Eros’ interactions as mother and son. It still takes root in the origins of their relationship, but also places a new twist on things! Of course, I’m also a sucker for the idea of Greek gods texting each other with emojis.
TL;DR: It pays homage to the original myth, while being friendly and interesting to newcomers!
5. It is perfect if you want to believe in love again ♡
At its core, Hades and Persephone is a story about star-crossed lovers, a.k.a. the most addictive kind of love story known to man. (Hey, I don’t make the rules.) I suppose if I have to reason it out, people just want to believe in love again. Especially when the love is the kind that perseveres despite all the odds stacked against it.
With their instant attraction and electrifying chemistry, it’s no wonder so many people have fallen in love with Hades and Persephone’s (budding?) relationship. But the story also seems to be looking into the love stories and drama of other characters like Hera, Zeus, Eros, Aphrodite, and more. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what more is in store for us.
You have to read this! (Duh!)
Lore Olympus is an exciting modern take on an infamous myth, illustrated in beautiful bold colours and strokes that seek to amaze. If you’re a fan of Greek mythology or just a fan of love stories in general, it’s rare to find one that is as visually pleasing and well-constructed as this one.