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‘Polis: The Trial of Socrates – Part 1 (The Restoration)’ – Comic Book Review

The Restoration is the first part of a three-part limited neo-peplum comic book series called Polis: The Trail of Socrates. The story of The Restoration takes place immediately after the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE, the same time and setting as the video game, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey) in which Athens was defeated by Sparta and the city was ruled for a mere eight months by the Thirty Tyrants. Though brief, the corrupt Thirty Tyrants rained violence on the citizens of Athens and confiscated much of their riches, which in turn fueled a rebellion which brought about their downfall.

The story of part one is mostly told through the perspective of a young Aristocles, better known as the philosopher Plato, whose cousin, Critias (one of the leaders of the Thirty Tyrants), is holding a sham trial against one of the Athenian citizens during an emergency assembly. Plato seeks out Socrates, who was not only a mentor to Plato, but to Critias, as well, in order to intervene. Instead, Critias threatens Socrates’ family in order to coerce him to arrest a rich Athenian. As this transpires, a rebel army begins to attack Athens. The army of the Thirty Tyrants, after conscripting anyone who can hold a spear (including children), attempts to repel them. Socrates visits the forces in order to retrieve a conscripted youth, while Plato battles the enemies on horseback. As history shows, fate will not be kind to Critias and his cohorts.

As a sword and sandal comic, The Restoration juggles both the combat elements and the political intrigue that the genre is known for. The first half of The Restoration focuses not only on the political elements of Athens, but going above and beyond to show the day-to-day life of the average Athenian citizen and how interconnected they all are. The human element is really captured in these scenes, and when compared to the end of the comic, just how malleable the average person’s alliances are when it comes to surviving a brutal reign.

The majority of the latter half of the comic focuses on the epic battle between Athens and the Rebels. As in the beginning of Jason and the Argonauts, both opposing sides make their sacrifices and consult an oracle to reassure their respective victories. It’s a nice visual at how little both armies differ from each other. The action scenes are also depicted well, with many intense panels, such as the youth Demetrius being forced to take up the spear and injured in the melee. While blood and decapitations can readily be found in the pepla works of Frank Miller (300 and Xerxes), The Restoration takes a less detached approach with its scenes of Demetrius coping with the large battle, showing a different dimension to these portrayals in the historic epic genre.

While the sword and sandal genre continues to try and find its footing on the big screen, peplum titles such as Polis, along with Chris Jaymes’ Sons of Chaos, Kieron Gillen’s Three, Miller’s Xerxes, and so on, demonstrate that the genre is alive and well and flourishing in other mediums, in this case, the comics form. As a part one, The Restoration is an admirable neo-peplum comic that gives its readers an engaging and entertaining means to know Socrates, Plato, and other aspects of Grecian ancient history.

Creative Team: Jave Galt-Miller (writer/creator), Daniel Becker (artist), Andrei Tabacaru (colorist), Steven Stahlberg (cover artist)
Publisher: Big Things Productions
Click here to purchase.


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