Pantheon by Hamish Steele review – meet the Egyptian gods
Savage, bawdy, irreverent and uproariously funny, this graphic novel has moments of grandeur and insight that make it educational as well as entertaining
As the treatments of Beowulf and The Epic of Gilgamesh in Russ Kick's inspiring The Graphic Canon showed, the strangeness and brutality of ancient myth can work surprisingly well in comic-book form. Illustrator Hamish Steele's tale of the Egyptian gods is another fine example of the genre. Pantheon begins with the world's creation by a mysterious aquatic pyramid, but its main subject is the struggle for Egypt's throne after weary sun god Ra leaves the Earth to Osiris, Isis, Set and Nephthys. The resulting action is savage, bawdy and often uproariously funny, full of trickery, sex, revenge and rebirth. Steele knows his stuff, but Pantheon is certainly not reverent: pastiches of Mrs Doubtfire and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? sit alongside decidedly contemporary dialogue ("Husband, don't fall for this trick - Set's a notorious cock"). Steele's gods sometimes look like Simpsons characters, but he also captures real grandeur, as a boat packed with animal-headed gods sweeps through the cosmos. This take on ancient Egypt is educational as well as hilarious.
• Pantheon is published by Nobrow. To order a copy for £11.04 (RRP £12.99) go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99.
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