‘Sons of Chaos:’ Advance Graphic Novel Review

Sons of Chaos is a neo-peplum graphic novel written by Chris Jaymes and illustrated by Ale Aragon (28 Days Later, Death Orb) about the beginning of the Greek War of Independence in the 1820s with a particular focus on Marcos Botsaris and his ascension to a Greek leader and national hero, and Ali Pasha of Ioannina, an Albanian who ruled much of Greece on behalf of the Ottoman Empire.

The story of Sons of Chaos begins with the Souliote Marcos in his youth, when his town is razed by the cruel Muhktar who is Ali Pasha’s son. Marcos is captured and imprisoned by Ali Pasha for 10 years, and in the process falls in love with Eleni, the daughter of Ibrahim Pasha of Berat who was forced into a marriage with Muhktar. Eleni helps Marcos to escape, and he finds his way to Ibrahim. There, he befriends both him and his son, Ismael, who set Marcos on his path to become a leader. Marcos vigorously trains and learns to fight and shoot. After witnessing another act of Ali Pasha’s cruelty, he finally steps into the role he was destined to and begins his campaign against Ali Pasha and the Ottomans across the Greek land.

As with most adaptions of historic events into other mediums, there are a few fictional liberties taken in Sons of Chaos in order to add more characterization and drama in order to create an engaging experience. For example, in reality, Marcos did not spend years in Ali Pasha’s captivity, but instead was enlisted in the French Army, learning the ways of the warrior via that avenue before returning Greece to combat Ali Pasha and the Ottomans. By going this route, Jaymes’ writing is able to juxtapose Marcos’ inner struggle and growth with the struggle of the Grecian people at large. This creates an accessible story, and because of this, Sons of Chaos acts as an excellent starting point for those wishing to explore more of the Greek War of Independence, a conflict whose repercussions are felt throughout the Occident to this day, yet remains in obscurity to those outside Europe.

Sons of Chaos can be compared somewhat to Frank Miller’s 300; both are historic epics involving Greek heroes fighting invaders to their lands, and both texts are presented as beautiful hardcover graphic novels that heavily employ panoramic pages. Aragon’s art style complements Jaymes’ writing perfectly; it's both gritty and yet grandiose. The coloring in Sons of Chaos is almost monochromatic with an emphasis on reds and blacks. This reserved usage of color gives the art of Sons of Chaos a uniform feeling which, of course, coincides with the themes of unity in the book.

There are scenes of violence (beheadings, sword play, shooting, rape) throughout the text, but Sons of Chaos does not dive into the realm of excessive, gory spectacle. The “war is hell” approach could have been the route Jaymes took in telling the Sons of Chaos story, but the avenue of heavy characterization on both Macros and Ali Pasha’s part was taken instead. The method pays off, as readers are treated to a submersing, humanizing, and powerful story. Sons of Chaos spotlights and amplifies a historic moment into the graphic novel medium and succeeds tremendously.


Creative Team: Chris Jaymes (writer), AleAragon (artist)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
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