Three is a vicious tale of three Helots, or lower class men, fighting for their lives after escaping the Spartans. Helots, basically a class of slave, are picking olives in an orchard when a group of Spartans arrive demanding hospitality. Once a year, their masters are allowed to declare war upon the Helots and kill the strongest. After Stephen, a drunken Helot, begins to insult his hosts, a fight breaks out. Many are killed, but Stephen, Damar and Klaros are able to escape. These three Helots become our title characters. Set against the backdrop of a Spartan empire on the brink of collapse due to sheer arrogance, the three must keep one step ahead and prevent their own deaths.
Three is brutal and does not ease up on a culture of violence. Writer Kieron Gillem tells a horrifying tale of survival and the price of class priveledge. Klaros, a survivor of the battle of Thermoplaye, has faked a limp since the battle to keep himself safe. Damar has witnessed her husband murdered for his strength and skill. Stephen’s humor comes from ages of horrific sites. Ryan Kelly’s art and Jordie Bellaire’s coloring are sublime. The oranges and reds, black tones and stark images blend together to really give a reader a feeling of the Spartan landscape and it’s surroundings.
Fascinating is the fact that Professor Stephen Hodkinson acted as a Historical Consultant from the book. According to the ample historical notes in the back, it is said that Hodkinson likely spent a good deal of time banging his head against the wall and correcting historical errors.
Despite the fact that this is not typically my kind of book, I found myself greatly enjoying Three. While I feel much of the battle sequences and historical facts may be lost on the casual reader, I appreciate the attention to detail and the page by page historical notes at the end of the text to explain what would have actually happened in the time period. Three is a history lesson and an entertainment in one.
Three Volume 1 TP
is available now from Image Comics.