Greek Street #1

Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Davide Gianfelice
40 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

How well do you know your Greek plays? Sure, everyone’s familiar with the basic Greek myths of Zeus, Apollo, Herakles, and Perseus. I’m talking about the the dramas, though; ones starring Oedipus, Agamemnon, Medea, Cassandra, or Ion.

No? Well don’t worry, Greek Street is still going to be extremely accessible to you, coming across as a rival family drama with a crime undercurrent moving through it. But for those who are familiar with some Greek works, though, there’s a nice extra punch to Peter Milligan’s new series.

Eddie’s just come back to town after his mother sent him away, and he’s not pleased about his past. When his confrontation goes badly, though, he ends up adrift and taking a job at a Greek restaurant. But two families are clearly at work, with an eye for an eye mentality moving through the levels of retribution. Meanwhile, there’s a killer preying on women, and Sandy’s having visions of the dead bodies afloat in the river. Only the strippers may know what’s going on, but they’re only revealing their knowledge to the audience—which fortunately, dear reader, is you.

Greek Street is in some ways trying to do to Greek myths and stories what Fables did to fairy tales. To be fair, that’s a gross simplification, but it’s as easy a way as any to try and describe the comic. Greek Street isn’t literally about these ancient characters of myth living in our world, but rather the idea that stories, situations, and characters keep repeating themselves throughout history. One of the strippers—serving as a member of a Greek chorus that talks to the audience—notes as much in the first pages. "You see, those old stories aren’t through with us. No matter how many different names or masks we might wear, they’re just not finished with us yet," she notes. So Eddie and Jo are caught up in the story of Oedipus and Jocasta, for example, although the exact situation and moments aren’t being perfectly replicated. It’s rather the ideas, the mood, and the general flow that we’re seeing here playing themselves out, for good or for ill.

What I like, though, is that you can enjoy Greek Street #1 without knowing most or even any of this extra information. Sandy being Cassandra isn’t knowledge needed to read her hysterical breakdown as she dreams of the dead bodies, for instance. The Furey family may or may not be connected in the broadest of strokes to the Furies, but I find myself not worrying about it. It’s more important in the short term to watch the investigation of the bodies in the river begin to unfold, or the nasty ways that rival families try to even the score and come to some sort of peace. All of the pieces are still being brought onto the board by Milligan, but he wisely focuses on just a few of them to help us get a feel for these characters. I’m not 100% sucked into the story just yet, but there are so many little moments and scenes that ended up sticking with me that I’m already interested to see what will happen next.

Davide Gianfelice’s art in Greek Street #1 is, quite frankly, gorgeous. I love how he draws the characters of this title, and how he’s able to hit all the notes needed from the script; sexy, dangerous, terrifying, sad, they’re all there. I was sold in just the first few pages, as one of our stripper/Greek chorus members lectures an audience member at the club. She’s got such an aura of power around her that it’s almost breathtaking. Gianfelice sells the idea that only she really knows what’s going on, even as the idiot grabbing her butt misses the point of every word she says. With that glazed-over expression on his face as he stares at her, she comes across as powerful even while he ogles, and that’s when I knew he was the right choice for Greek Street. There’s so much going on here, with a soft, well rounded style that can still handle the heavier moments of the book. From Eddie’s nightmares to the twisted bodies found in the river, each moment just bursts onto the page with energy.

Milligan and Gianfelice have brought a sense of style to this book that, I think, is its ultimate selling point. With 100 Bullets over, this book seems the closest to try and inherit its crown as Vertigo’s crime drama, admittedly one with a twist. It’s slick and sexy, and it has enough of its own unique voice that it’s hard to not want to be drawn back for a second installment. I really like Vertigo’s new $1, 40-page debuts for series because like The Unwritten before it, this is a good enough introduction that it should hopefully bring in people eager for another taste. Definitely take a look. I’m already a fan.

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