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The Olympians is a 12-part comic book series by George O'Connor.

Inspired by a mix of superhero comics and a lifelong fascination with Classical Mythology, O'Connor felt modern superhero lore had a lot to owe to the stories of the deities of old, and so he started work on a comic series dedicated to the Greek Gods in the style of modern day superhero stories. The books in the series include:

  1. Zeus: King of the Gods (2010)
  2. Athena: Grey-Eyed Goddess (2010)
  3. Hera: The Goddess and Her Glory (2011)
  4. Hades: Lord of the Dead (2012)
  5. Poseidon: Earth Shaker (2013)
  6. Aphrodite: Goddess of Love (2013)
  7. Ares: Bringer of War (2015)
  8. Apollo: The Brilliant One (2016)
  9. Artemis: Wild Goddess of the Hunt (2017)
  10. Hermes: Tales of the Trickster (2018)
  11. Hephaistos: God of Fire (2019)
  12. Dionysos: The New God (2022)
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A four-part sequel called The Asgardians is planned after the release of Dionysos, focusing on the Norse Gods, planned to consist of comics dedicated to Odin, Thor, Loki and Ragnarok.

Tropes

  • Accidental Murder: Athena in Athena: Grey-Eyed Goddess accidentally kills her best friend Pallas early on, when Zeus tries to help her win a friendly duel between them by distracting Pallas with his sexy. What hurts Athena even more is that Pallas doesn't even seem to care that her best friend just killed her—she just wants to know if Zeus saw how good a job she did.
  • Adaptation Amalgamation:
    • Tantalos' myth is merged with the Abduction of Persephone, and this also causes Tantalos' villainous motive to change—he wanted to get back at the gods for Demeter withdrawing the harvest.
    • The death of Orion. Because the author felt all versions of the story were valid, he decided to merge each of them together. This was also meant to give Artemis a little more agency in killing him, as opposed to simply being tricked into it.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
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    • The Gorgeous Gorgon trope is in full effect for Medusa. Not so much her sisters, though.
    • The Fates were often depicted as severe looking old women, but here, they're much more youthful looking women dressed in black cloaks. Doubly so as they're also the Furies in this version, who were depicted as terrifying, snake-haired harridans with batlike wings (granted, they become more monstrous when they take on their Fury forms).
    • While Zeus is still bearded and white-haired, he's noticeably more youthful and pretty than his typical portrayal as a Grandpa God. This applies as well for Hades and Poseidon.
    • Kampe, described as something truly obscene or at the very least a very monstrous woman, is depicted here like a more conventional, serpentine dragon.
  • Adaptational Consent: Since the story is meant for all ages, a lot of this ends up occurring.
    • As per usual, this is the case between Poseidon and Medusa, due to it going by Ovid's version of her backstory as a priestess of Athena. Curiously, the story still presents Medusa somewhat sympathetically.
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    • Zeus' proposal to Hera not only pulls this, but also gives Hera a bit more agency by having her demand that Zeus make her his wife rather than merely his queen. This is probably for the best.
    • Zeus' interactions with Io are also significantly less rape-y.
    • Played with regarding Hades and Persephone—Hades does kidnap Persephone here, and she's understandably not pleased about it. But after realizing she has more freedom in the Underworld than she ever did on the surface, she changes her tune significantly. Additionally, Hades doesn't trick her into eating the pomegranate seeds in this version; he's tempted to by the Fates, but changes his mind as he wants Persephone to have a choice in whether or not she stays.
    • Inverted with Atalanta and her husband, who's depicted as having tricked her into marriage, giving her no say in the matter. In some versions of the original myths, she's depicted as having truly loved him and some even imply that she went along with the trickery as an excuse to marry him. Here, it's depicted as a tragedy and part of the reason Artemis scorns romance so much.
  • Adaptational Dumbass: Tartaros just appears to be a really deep and powerful pit in this version, and George O'Connor confirms that his portrayal isn't alive/sentient.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: A few examples, but Hippomenes, husband of Atalanta is a standout example—in the original myths, he and Atalanta were genuinely in love and regardless of the situation with their proposal footrace, the two ended up quite Happily Married, being devastated when the Gods curse them to never make love again. Here, Hippomenes is depicted as explicitly having tricked Atalanta into losing the race, forcing her into marriage without getting a say into who her husband is. Of course, it is Artemis who's telling the story and framing it that way here, so she could be a slight Unreliable Narrator, but the author notes make it clear that O'Connor agrees with her, apparently regarding Hippomenes as "a loser" for having to resort to tricking a girl into marrying him.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • Whereas most works depict Aphrodite as blond, here she's a brunette.
    • The Fates' white robes are replaced with black ones here.
  • Adaptational Modesty:
    • An interesting example, seeing as the author is still partially adhering to accurate clothing-styles of Greece—in the comic, Hermes is depicted wearing his signature chlamys...but in the original myths that was usually the only thing he wore besides his winged shoes and helmet (one myth even explicitly describes him as "naked except for a messenger's cloak"). Here, he wears the chlamys as a cape and has a short chiton underneath, though he doesn't wear a shirt.
    • Eros is another god who's covered up here but went naked in the myths. This may be due to him being portrayed as a child here.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Minos II, according to Ariadne, tried to raise the Minotaur as his own, and Ariadne was apparently close enough to him that he allowed her to put flowers in his horns. In the end, the Minotaur became too bloodthirsty and his stepfather had no choice but to lock him up.
  • Adaptational Ugliness:
    • invoked Hestia is depicted as, effectively, a humanoid flame. The comic states that this is because she was stuck in Kronos' stomach for so long she was almost completely digested.
    • Downplayed in that they don't look necessarily bad but the Titans themselves are depicted as towering, naked humanoids with clouds for hair, solid green eyes and somewhat elongated proportions that some angles really like to emphasize, though some like Helios rather look like Energy Beings. In the original myths, they just looked like humans. This applies for Kronos most especially; his eyes usually look a lot like the sky he had cut through and having rather unflattering expressions, particularly whenever he opens his mouth.
    • The Gorgons Stheno and Euryale look like humanoid goat monsters.
    • Subverted with Ares—he looks brutal and scary with his helmet on, but is significantly more attractive when he takes it off. Played more straight with his partners: Eris looks like a wild and gothic little girl in this version, a far cry from the attractive adult woman portrayal people usually go for with her; she looks more grown up in Ares: Bringer of War, though she's still as crazy looking as ever. Phobos and Deimos, meanwhile, go from fairly normal looking humans (aside from Phobos sometimes being depicted with a lion's head or features) to living up to their names more as ghoulish, wispy phantasms.
    • The Hydra is a bit less recognizably serpentine, all of its heads being featureless tentacles that end in sharp teeth.
  • A Day in the Limelight: As the titles imply, each installment focuses on a different God, but some focus on more than one—Hades: Lord of the Dead focuses as much on Persephone and Demeter as it focuses on Hades, while Hestia will narrate Dionysos' story.
  • Age Lift: Eros is depicted as a little boy.
  • invoked Alternate Character Interpretation: Due to the nature of the mythology, O'Connor invokes this trope sometimes by taking liberties with characterization—for example, Hermes is depicted as having killed Argus, despite being perfectly capable of freeing Io without resorting to violence, because Argus killed Echidna against Zeus' orders. Tropes Are Tools, as this helps open up very interesting and creative interpretations upon the various characters in question, many of which aren't even that necessarily "inaccurate" or impossible (such as the implication here that Hera is as much a Stealth Mentor practicing Training from Hell on Heracles as she is his Arch-Enemy, and that Zeus actually orchestrated the Trojan War for the overall well-being of mankind through reducing the number of dangerous demigods along with encouraging the Olympians to meddle less in the affairs of humanity).
  • Ambiguously Brown: Aphrodite has darker skin here than usually depicted. Interestingly, some of her ancient cult titles included Skotia ("dark") and Melaina ("black"), and Aphrodite herself is actually an "import goddess" to the Greek pantheon as her worship originated in that of Astarte from Mesopotamian mythology.
  • Ambiguously Related: While Eros is portrayed as Aphrodite's son here, the comic leaves it intentionally unclear who his father is—the candidates are depicted as being Hephaistos, Ares, Hermes and Ouranos.
  • Arc Words: Many of them.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • He doesn't die, but Kronos in Zeus: King of the Gods thoroughly deserved being overthrown and sent to what is basically Hell.
    • Tantalos in Hades: Lord of the Dead, having murdered his own son and cooked his flesh to serve to the Olympians. Even the author flat out says that Tantalos had his punishment coming. Other denizens of Tartaros, such as Ixion, Sisyphus, Tityos and the 49 daughters of Danaus also make appearances in that book.
    • Python in Apollo: The Brilliant One, who gleefully hunted down Leto due to the prophecy stating she would die at the hands of one of her children and later mocked Leto's son Apollo when he came to fulfill that prophecy.
    • Orion in Artemis: Wild Goddess of the Hunt, being a Casanova Wannabe with an Entitled to Have You attitude towards Artemis.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Part and parcel for Greek mythology. Io being turned into a cow, Medusa into a Gorgon, Arachne into a spider, Callisto into a bear, Persephone's handmaidens into sirens, etc.
  • The Beautiful Elite: The Olympians, unsurprisingly, are all this, with Hephaistos being the only exception.
  • Berserker Tears: Achilles sheds these, still screaming with pure rage as he drags Hector's body behind his chariot. The fact that Hector murdered his boyfriend probably had something to do with it.
  • Born as an Adult: True to the original myths, Athena and Aphrodite were born fully formed.
  • Bowdlerize:
    • Ouranos' castration is depicted as Kronos rebelling against him by "cutting open the sky" and spilling his blood; the "seat of Eros's power in Ouranos" is what falls into the sea to become Aphrodite. A relatively decent example, as Ouranos is depicted here as a dome encircling the Earth (Gaia), just as he was in the original myths, though on very rare occasion a few frames show at least an outline of him, as a giant humanoid with stars for eyes, looking not very dissimilar from his children.
    • invoked Zig-zagged with the homosexual romances of Greek myth—Heracles and Iolaus are just depicted as uncle and nephew here (probably for the best because...well...), but the story doesn't shy away from depicting Achilles as having explicitly been in love with Patroclus or Apollo being in love with Hyacinth. We still don't get to see the latter pair's Last Kiss though, which takes place offscreen and is pantomimed by one of the Muses instead.
  • But Not Too Gay: A mild take—Apollo is very clearly about to kiss Hyacinth as he dies in his arms, but before his lips can make contact, we cut to Erato (who just so happens to be an extremely female woman) pantomiming the kiss by...enthusiastically making out with Apollo's statue.
  • By the Lights of Their Eyes: In some cases, a character who is otherwise The Faceless will have their brightly colored eyes be very visible, such as the Titans or the aforementioned Hekantonchires.
  • Character Narrator: Many installments have different people narrating the Gods' stories. Athena is narrated by the Fates, Apollo by the Muses, Aphrodite by the Charities, Dionysos is set to be narrated by Hestia, etc.
  • Composite Character:
    • The Fates and the Furies are depicted as one and the same in the comics. The author clarifies why here.
    • Eris and Enyo are depicted as one and the same as well. This predates the comics, as The Iliad does the same.
  • Continuity Snarl: A small one—Sisyphus appears in the prologue to Hades: Lord of the Dead as one of the prisoners in Tartaros, prior to Hades marrying Persephone. In the original myth, Persephone was one of the death Gods Sisyphus tried to scam.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Zephyros is not pleased when Apollo takes a liking to his lover Hyacinth.
  • Decomposite Character:
    • Eros the Protogenos and Eros as Aphrodite's son are separate characters in this version. Aphrodite apparently named her son after the Protogenos.
    • Similarly, there are two King Minos in this version—Minos I, who became a judge in the Underworld, and Minos II, who dealt with the Minotaur.
  • Decoy Protagonist: As lampshaded by the author himself, Hades: Lord of the Dead may have his name in the title, but it's really Persephone and Demeter's story rather than his.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Many of the older deities are this because, according to George O'Connor, they were born before the invention of footwear. Also applies to Dionysos, probably because of his status as The Hedonist.
  • Edutainment Show: The comics are rather faithful to the mythology, though some liberties are taken here and there.
  • The Eeyore: Hades is frequently described as "gloomy". He grows out of it a little after marrying Persephone.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Typhon is always this on some level, but this version really takes the cake—his whole body is never seen in full because he's just that massive, and what little we do see consists of countless horrifying, animalistic faces, all screaming and roaring. When we first see him for real, his main head alone makes Mount Olympus itself look like a pebble and most of the time, he appears as an enormous, living storm.
  • Entitled to Have You: Orion feels this way towards Artemis. It doesn't end well for him...
  • Face Framed in Shadow: A lot of characters get to have this at several points.
  • The Faceless: In addendum to the above, a lot of the more monstrous characters like the Hecantonchires will generally have their entire faces shadowed, save for a few details.
  • Fangirl: Pallas was one of Zeus. It didn't end well for her.
  • Fix Fic: The dramatic needs of making disparate ancient myths—including various Multiple-Choice Backstories—work as a modern comic book force O'Connor to resolve several annoying ambiguities in elegant ways. For example, Aphrodite was variously born from the sea foam or was the daughter of Zeus. O'Connor makes her the former, but Zeus promptly (and unilaterally) adopts her as his foster-daughter—incidentally both putting him in a position to deal with the threat she poses by marrying her off, and wisely ruling out going after her himself.
  • Gender Flip: The Cerynian Hind, a female deer, is renamed the Cerynian Stag, a male deer.
  • Grey Rain of Depression: A grey rainstorm falls when Gaia is sad over her children, the Cyclopes and Hekatonchires, being imprisoned beneath the earth by their father Ouranos and later their brother Kronos.
  • Happily Married: Hades and Persephone ultimately end up this way. Awwwww!
  • Hidden Eyes:
    • Hermes' eyes are always hidden under his helmet, though appropriately enough, we finally see them in his comic; turns out, he has pale green eyes. O'Connor states that this is because of Hermes' status as the God of Liars, and that one of the best ways to tell if someone is lying is to look into their eyes—Hermes won't let anyone see his eyes so they'll never know he's lying.
    • The Fates/Furies also have their eyes hidden beneath their hoods. Unlike Hermes, we never see their eyes in full, but they do briefly glow red beneath their hoods in one panel of Hades.
  • Hot God: invoked Virtually all of the Olympians are immensely attractive; even the exceptions to this — Hestia and Hephaistos — are charming to look at in their own ways. Word Of God lampshaded this in the Aphrodite book and even lamented it to an extent, commenting that this trope made it significantly more difficult for him to come up with a great design for Aphrodite since he wanted her to be immensely attractive in a way that still made her stick out as unique among the other Olympians.
  • Hunk: Heracles. Poseidon also qualifies.
  • Land, Sea, Sky: When Zeus is first shown as a young adult, he demonstrates his shapeshifting ability by transforming into an eagle, fish, and stag.
  • Last Kiss: All but confirmed to be the case with Apollo and Hyacinth, when Zephyros kills the latter as revenge for the former getting chummier with him than he'd like. It ends up being pantomimed by Erato making out with Apollo's statue.
  • Mama Bear: Demeter, as in the original myths, drops everything to search for Persephone after Hades takes her to be his wife.
  • Meaningful Echo: Poseidon, after Polyphemos is blinded, laments that his children always tend to be monsters—not just the second generation cyclopes, but also Triton (a merman), Ephialtes and Otus (twin giants) and Pegasus (a flying horse). But then he talks about one of his human children, Theseus and his story. It starts out great, a standard tale of a hero slaying a monster...and then he abandons his lover and forgets about her before implicitly orchestrating his father's suicide so he can take the throne. Poseidon then narrates, over Theseus' smug, smirking face, that his children always tend to be monsters.
  • Meaningful Rename: "Kore" is depicted as Persephone's birth name here. When in the Underworld, she ends up renaming herself Persephone.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Unsurprisingly, Aphrodite is one of these, being a gorgeous, curvy woman with long flowing hair. Post-makeover Persephone also qualifies.
  • My Beloved Smother: Demeter, to Persephone in Hades: Lord of the Dead.
  • Narrator All Along: The Hades, Hephaistos, and Hermes narrators are all left ambiguous until the ending, where it's revealed that they were narrated by Persephone, Epimetheus, and Aesop respectively.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Persephone's reaction to seeing the spirits in the Underworld can best be described as being simultaneously scared and fascinated.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Quite a few dragon monsters show up in the story, including...
    • Kampe, a talking, fire-breathing reptile monster that acted as the jailer of the Hekatoncheires and the Cyclopes in the Titanomachy. She's killed by Zeus when he jams a rock in her mouth, causing her fire to back up and explode.
    • The Hydra is depicted as a serpent monster with no eyes and a toothy Lamprey Mouth on all of its many heads.
    • The Ladon, first making a cameo in Hera: The Goddess and her Glory and later in Hermes: Tales of the Trickster, is depicted as a serpent with a pair of stubby legs.
    • Python from Apollo: The Brilliant One is depicted as literally just a giant snake. Like Kampe, she can also talk.
    • A nameless dragon resembling a crocodile appears in Artemis: Wild Goddess of the Hunt as one of the monsters killed by Orion.
    • Typhon and Echidna in Hermes: Tales of the Trickster are depicted as a smoky, tempestuous Eldritch Abomination and a snake woman with a long neck that she can coil around her shoulders respectively.
  • Parents Know Their Children: To get the special plant into his father Kronos' offering pile, Zeus shapeshifts into an old woman and claims to be a former handmaiden of his mother, but the Titan instantly sees through the ruse.
    Kronos: Do you take me for a fool?! Did you believe I would not recognize a child of my own line, no matter how he was disguised?
  • Perky Goth: Persephone very quickly becomes one in the Underworld.
  • Perspective Flip: A recurring theme in the series, which manages to make the characters surprisingly nuanced—the good and bad of nearly all the gods and goddesses are shown throughout the comics.
  • Pretty Boy: Zeus, Hermes, Apollo, Ares without his helmet...even Hades is cute in a gloomy sort of way.
  • Really Gets Around: Zeus of course. Aphrodite also gets around so much that no one knows who Eros' father is.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Zeus gives an exceptionally cruel (but not entirely incorrect) one to Ares in Ares: Bringer of War.
    Zeus: Ares...quit your whining. You are my most despised child. The most hateful of all gods on Olympus. You are good for nothing but quarreling and battles. You have all the anger of your mother but have grown entirely out of hand. If you were any child but my own, I would long since have dropped you out of Olympus.
  • Sarcastic Devotee: Hermes is Zeus' most loyal son, but he's also a snarky trickster.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Persephone starts out pretty cute, but she becomes downright gorgeous upon giving herself a bit of a goth makeover in the Underworld.
  • Ship Tease: Hermes flirts with Hecate a little when he first meets her. Something of a literal Mythology Gag according to the author, as there are some myths where the two of them are depicted as lovers.
  • Shout-Out:
    • According to O'Connor, his inclusion of the statue of Hera at the mast of the Argos is an nod to Jason and the Argonauts.
    • After slaying the Minotaur, Theseus directly quotes the last lines of the famed Jorge Luis Borges' short story "The House of Asterion" — "Can you believe it, Ariadne? The Minotaur barely defended himself."
      • Additionally, the Geek Notes for the same book state that O'Connor got the idea for Ariadne to put flowers on the Minotaur's horns when she was a child from Patricia Kindl's Lost In The Labyrinth.
    • When he is thrown off Mount Olympus for the second time, Hephaistos morosely thinks to himself "Well... here I am" as he hurtles through the air. According to the Geek Notes, this was intended as an allusion to Jubal Early's last words in the Firefly episode "Objects in Space".
      • O'Connor has also freely admitted to having taken inspiration from the Transformers franchise when designing Talos' cameo for the Hephaistos book.
    • The dog urinating on the herm is actually a reference to "Hermes and the Dog", one of Aesop's Fables. Similarly, the story with the dates and almonds from the Hermes book is another extended reference to one of Aesop's fables — Specifically, "The Traveller and Hermes".
    • Almost immediately after Dionysos grants him the gift to turn anything he touches to gold, King Midas mutters "I've made a huge mistake." For bonus points, O'Connor even draws Midas to strongly resemble G.O.B. from Arrested Development in the few panels he's featured.
  • Shown Their Work: George O'Connor always provides research notes at the end of each installment, showing he's done his homework on the myths.
  • Smug Smiler: The Aloadae almost always have the most pridefully devious looks on their faces, highlighted by their huge grins with their green teeth while they flaunt their power in front of the Olympians and even flirting with the Goddesses.
  • Smug Snake: Perhaps one of the most literal examples in existence—Python, the actual giant snake monster in Apollo: The Brilliant One, went after Leto because she foresaw that one of Leto's children would kill her. When Apollo shows up to fight her to avenge his mother, Python more or less laughs in his face, stating that she knows it's Artemis the prophecy is referring to and that Apollo is nowhere near as strong as his sister, mockingly calling him "Godling" all the while. It takes less than four pages for Apollo to finally kill her.
  • Snake People: Echidna, as usual. She's depicted as a serpent woman with a long neck that's able to wrap around her shoulders like a boa.
  • Stealth Mentor: Hera: The Goddess and Her Glory strongly implies that rather than being just the Arch-Enemy of Heracles, Hera is actually this trope, forcing Heracles into the Twelve Labors so that he will be remembered as the greatest of the Greek heroes for the rest of history.
  • Toilet Humor: Orion's birth, in this version, goes for the "Zeus, Poseidon and Hermes all urinated on the ground" interpretation.
  • Twist Ending: A few of the comics have these...
    • Apollo: The Brilliant One ends with The Reveal that everything we were reading was being foreseen by Apollo when he was still a child, speaking to Zeus about what he wants to be granted. This is given as an explanation for why, unlike Artemis, he never answered.
    • Hermes: Tales of the Trickster has a hilarious one; Argus finally makes the realization as to why he's being accosted with tales about Hermes by a humble shepherd, namely the shepherd is Hermes and he's going to kill Argus to free Io and avenge the fact that Argus killed Echidna despite Zeus ordering for her to live. And he's right about Hermes being there and wanting to kill him...but he's not the shepherd. Then the shepherd's dog starts talking...
  • Undying Loyalty: Hermes and Athena have this towards their father.
  • Unholy Matrimony: Typhon and Echidna, as always, are depicted as evil and in love.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Zeus, Poseidon and Hermes are always shirtless.
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