Publisher: IDW Publishing
Author: Chris Jaymes
Artist: Ale Aragon
Genre: Graphic Novel
Pages: 192 (Hardcover)
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The year is 1821 and Greece is on the verge of its independence from the 400 year reign of the Ottoman Empire. Marcos Botsaris and his family have suffered under the rule of the infamous Ali Pasha of Ioannina for generations. With a plan partly of his own accord and the rest from unlikely sources, Marcos is about to lead his people to freedom.
“Sons of Chaos” is presented as a 13.5” x 10.5” panoramic full-color graphic novel. With its focus on historical events as well as the unique presentation, I’m immediately reminded of Frank Miller’s seminal graphic novel “300” as it was surely an influence on the design and presentation of this book. The title is hardcover with section sewn binding and makes a great coffee table presentation piece…but that’s not what this book is about.
The fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1922 reshaped not only the Middle East and Mediterranean basin but affected the world on a global scale. 100 years earlier the seeds of its fall were planted by a ragtag group of Greek revolutionaries during what has come to be known as the Greek War of Independence. Led by the leader of the Souliotes Marcos Botsaris…one of the most revered men in Greek history, his group fought off over 3000 Ottoman soldiers with less than 400 men at his command before his death in battle. “Sons of Chaos” tells the tale of Marcos’ life and the hardships he dealt with up until his death on the battlefield. Written by screen veteran Chris Jaymes with stunning art from Ale Aregon (Boom! Studios, Image Comics), “Sons of Chaos” is presented as a history lesson in comic book form.
As I started through the early chapters of “Sons of Chaos”, I have to admit that I was confused and it was a little hard to follow along as the story rapidly introduced characters and plotlines one after another sometimes with very little setup or introduction. Things started to come together and gel over the next couple of chapters and from the middle of the book on the story was riveting and compelling. It took some time for Marcos to evolve from timid child and feeble servant into the leader of a revolution but once those steps were set in motion his path was clear and his heroic deeds comparable to leaping a building in a single bound.
Ali Pasha of Ioannina was the perfect foil for Marcos and a very well rounded and somewhat sympathetic villain. His masterful manipulation of all of those around him as well as his sharp wit, strategic mind and sheer ruthlessness reminded me of a combination of the Red Skull and Hannibal Lecter. Whether his actions were intentional and premeditated were left up in the air until the very end…and even then I wasn’t quite sure as to trust his silver tongue.
While quite a bit of the story also deals with Marcos’ family and the woman that he loved but could never be with, I felt that most of the secondary characters in the book were there simply to draw a hard line between Marcos and Ali Pasha. They are the main characters of the story, damn everyone else and I’m actually fine with that. “Sons of Chaos” is a graphic novel with a solid beginning and ending…it’s not looking to spin off with a book about Marcos best fried Photo or carry on with the Pasha bloodline. Ali and Marcos are the yin and yang of the story and they use each other to restore balance in Greece no matter the cost.
Ale Aragon’s artwork fits the narrative of the book perfectly. At times it is clean and stoic and other times it’s chaotic and fierce. The style of flowing dark inking mixed with the faded water color look of the coloration adds a unique mix of comic book style with that of historical illustrations. The mature theme of the book allows free reign and excessive use of violence but these scenes are justified by the nature of the war-torn setting.
If you’re a fan of Frank Miller’s “300”, the harsh fantasy worlds of something like “Game of Thrones” or just love epic war stories, “Sons of Chaos” is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. The presentation is top notch as is the creative team behind the book. Don’t discount this tale of a hero you’ve never known existed nor of a war you had never heard of because this book pays a fitting tribute to a lesser known event of historical importance…and it’s fun to read and look at!
Bottom Line: While “Sons of Chaos” is a literary presentation of historical events, don’t misjudge it because it’s presented in graphic novel form and don’t discount it because it’s not your atypical comic book. “Sons of Chaos” is a great balance of historical documentation and comic book presentation.