Indie Comic Review: Marathon

Marathon by Boaz Yakin and Joe Infurnari – First Second – $16.99

Marathon by Boaz Yakin and Joe Infurnari is everything that 300 tried to be.  It is epic in scope, beautiful to look at, and full of action and drama.  However, where 300 was a thin story that was just a frame for epic battle scenes, Marathon is a deep and engrossing story about love, devotion, and democracy.

It was a turning point in ancient history. 

It inspires men to greatness.

It was the foundation of one of the greatest and most prevailing global peace efforts of the 20th century.

It was the greatest feat—and the tragic death—of a man whose legacy will never be forgotten.

In 490BC, an Athenian messenger named Eucles ran 153 miles from Sparta to Athens, and in so doing preserved ancient Greek civilization from subjugation to the Persian Empire.

This is his story.

At first it was difficult to imagine how Yakin and Infurnari were going to make a 26 mile run interesting.  I must confess to being bored after a 5 mile run and that is when I am doing the actual running!  Watching someone else run sounded about as interesting as watching paint dry.  However Yakin creates a compelling character in the former slave, Eucles.

Early in his life, Eucles is entered in a foot race where he bests the others, including the son of the Athenian tyrant king.  as his “reward”, he is freed, and given the position of messenger.  However,when he fails to deliver a message on time, his family is put to death in front of him. This leads young Eucles to despise the king and even try to have him assassinated when he is deposed.  Some twelve years later, when the deposed king returns at the head of a Persian army, Eucles must run to Sparta, some 150 miles away to ask for help.

The personal connection of the character to the story is what makes Marathon stand out.  For Eucles, everything he has grown to love since the removal of the king is at stake.  Whereas historians can argue about the importance of the battle of Marathon as a key moment in the preservation of Democracy, the story of Marathon is about a key moment in one man’s life as he fights to preserve everything and everyone he loves.

Having seen Joe Infurnari’s art on Mush! and now on Marathon, it is clear that he has grown by leaps and bounds. Infurnari’s art is spectacular.  His rough pencils and inks lend an edge to the story, highlighting the dangerous situation.  The terrain is rugged and the men who inhabit Athens and Sparta have been shaped by it.  They are strong, sinewy, and do not have tolerance for excess.  The book’s sepia tones give a sense of heat and dust, while the grey-tone flashbacks hearken to a darker, colder time of tyrants.

At the start of this review I said that Marathon was everything 300 tried to be.  300 was a beautiful book about an epic battle.  But it fell short when it came to presenting the reader with  the scope of the implications for the battle and the reasons for most of the characters to participate.  Marathon is gorgeous in its own right, and presents some truly epic battles.  However, it also gives each character a reason to be there and a reason for the reader to care.

Marathon is available at your local comic shop today!  Interested in a preview?  Click here.

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