Mythology has some pretty weird stuff in it. Petty conflicts, bizarre sexual pairings, shocking violence. But most classic mythology books gloss over that sort of thing, with dry language and scholarly seriousness. As you might have guessed, this is not that sort of book.
Yeah, that’s Horus kicking Set right in the bean-bag on the cover of Pantheon by Hamish Steele. This is a cheeky graphic novel that revels in all the absolute bonkers stuff in Egyptian mythology.
If you’re looking at this and thinking “This might be a fun way to introduce my kids to my love of mythology!” think again. This is an uncensored telling of the Egyptian creation myth and the epic conflict between Horus and Set. There’s sex, violence, more sex, lots of cartoon schlongs, incest, and lots of cursing. If it was a movie, it’d easily be rated R.
Hamish Steele is British, and it shows in the book’s dark, dry humor and some of the slang used. I personally loved the tone of Pantheon but I know it’s not going to be for everyone.
The artwork is kind of like a cross between Egyptian temple carvings and The Simpsons. Characters are invariably presented in profile, with bold lines and bright colors. It’s easy to tell all of the gods apart because Steele draws upon their traditional depictions and translates them into a cartoon style that turns each of them into a distinct character.
If you’re confused about the Egyptian pantheon, the book starts with a helpful family tree chart… which will actually leave you still confused, because incest. Honestly I don’t know why everyone was so shocked by all the incest in Game of Thrones when it was such a big factor in so many world mythologies.
Pantheon is a thick volume of over 200 pages, but I finished it in a single sitting. It’s well paced and funny, keeping you turning the pages to see what happens next. Even if you’re familiar with the story, you’ll still want to see how Steele interprets it.
This one isn’t for mythology purists, and if you’re a pagan who worships the Egyptian deities, you may be offended by the depiction. But if you like to take a tongue-and-cheek approach to subjects and you enjoy well-crafted graphic novels, Pantheon deserves a spot on your shelf.
Pros: Utterly entertaining, delightful artwork.
Con: NSFW. So NSFW.
Conclusion: This’ll leave you chuckling and then reaching for a more serious book to learn more about Egyptian mythology.
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