Kieron Gillen and Ryan Kelly’s Spartan saga comes to it’s conclusion, and as expected, it’s bitter-sweet. It’s one man against an army, and although that can only go one way, Klaros demonstrates true heroism, and Gillen succeeds in his mission of deflating the Spartan myth and mystique.
We begin with Klaros staring down the army, he’s killed their dogs, now bring on the men. They charge, but amazingly, he’s able to hold them off, as he can block the narrow entrance to the cave completely with his shield, and just stab away. It’s a miniaturised Thermopylae basically. The King pulls back his men, which leads Klaros to challenge him to one-on-one combat. The King declines, but he sends a Champion in his stead, and we get a pretty awesome and brutal fight, which leads to the Champion’s death, but Klaros’ leg being slashed open, and his stumbling back into the cave.
Surprisingly, Terpander is not dead like I thought, although he’s on his way, and he grabs the helmet and shield to take over from Klaros, but his weapons are words, and he proceeds to basically take down the Spartans that way, saying that they shouldn’t honour the 300, because each one had a Helot beside them that went unheralded. The King retreats for the night, leaving our three heroes one last evening. Klaros admits the truth about his past, that he fought for the Spartan army, even burning a Messenian tribe alive. He knew this meant he didn’t deserve to be free, so he pretended to be crippled and live a quiet life. He and Damar have sex, but as soon as they do, Terpander keels over dead, and it’s morning, time for the final battle.
Klaros steps out, ready to fight, but instead, the Spartan King has been crafty, and has his soldiers just drop a rock on Klaros from the clifftop, crushing him completely. So much for the Spartan warrior way huh? But as the King says, the most un-Spartan thing of all would for there to be no Sparta, and for him to lose. The remaining Spartans rush the cave, where they find Terpander’s body, alongside that of the Spartan Klaros killed in #4, his face disfigured so they don’t recognise him. The Spartans think they’ve got them all, so they leave Damar alone to grieve, but of course, make her way to freedom.
9 months later, we see that Damar has given birth to twins, which she of course names Terpander and Klaros, which is a bit cheesy, but it works. They may not have reached freedom themselves, but in a way, they actually did. The issue ends with a strange scene, set many years in the future, where an Egyptian Pharoah rushes to meet King Agesilaos, expecting to see a great warrior, but instead finding a broken old man. This would seem to indicate that the King’s sneaky actions in killing Klaros lead him to this, but the text at the end says that he ended up being considered one of Sparta’s greatest ever Kings, so it’s odd.
But either way, this was still a great ending to a very good mini-series. Ryan Kelly’s art was fantastic throughout, and some of the violent fight scenes here are up there with the best. If you like ancient history, definitely pick up the collected edition, this is not only a great story, but the amount of detail that Gillen, Kelly and even the colourist went to in order to be accurate makes it a cut above. When it comes to 3 vs 300, less is more.