It’s issue three of Three, which is pretty cool to my mind, but that might make OCD. This issue continued to deepen the story, and most of all, the characters. The mystery of ‘Klaros’ just gets more and more interesting, and surprisingly, the pissant son of the Ephor that was killed in #1 takes a bit of a centre-stage here, and I don’t know about anyone else, but I started to feel a bit of sympathy for Arimnestos, even though he is a ‘trembler’.
Gillen kicks things off with the Spartan King enlisting the aid of a Helot tracker to help him find the three runaways. In order to ensure this Helot does not aid his fellow serfs, the King threatens to kill his wife and his children, which just shows how dickish the Spartans really are. Before they set off, the King reveals that Arimnestos will not be coming with them, he is a coward, a trembler, and so they hold him down, tear off his cloak, and shave of half of his beard, which I suppose will mark him to anyone he sees as a trembler. And indeed it does, as when he returns to Sparta, small children throw stones at him, and even his mother rejects him. It’s interesting to note here that Arimnestos’ mother is not powerless in Spartan society, and is able to own property such as horses.
The back-matter interview with the historical consultant goes into more detail, but it’s cool that Kieron Gillen has evolved this story from the initial response to Frank Miller that it seemed to be, and into something more nuanced, that shows the good and bad sides of Sparta. In #2, we saw the surprising tolerance of homosexuality, and now we see the strength women can wield. Arimnesto’s response to all of these rebukes is to go solo, and hunt the Three himself, he takes his family’s ancestral weapons and armour, and employs a tracker himself.
As for the titular Three, their plan is to escape Sparta and head to the separate country of Messene. Along the way, we begin to find out a bit more back-story, which is useful, especially for Damar, the female Helot, who had been pretty blank up until now. She tells the story of how her husband was killed by Spartans as part of the Krypteia ritual, and how this inspired her to keep on living, and how that is the best revenge. Terpander then leaves a discussion about the Helot’s names, which they choose themselves, and it turns out that Klaros’ full name is ‘Stenyklaros’, the site of a battle where 300 Spartans were killed, which is very intriguing indeed. Damar and Terpander ask him who he really is, but all he says is that he’s a butcher. And man, what a butcher he is, as is shown by the swathe he carves through the Spartans guarding the bridge they need to cross. Damar briefly pretends to be pregnant, but really, it’s all about Klaros and his butchering skills, this was a great sequence, wonderfully drawn by Ryan Kelly. So, the Three are making it across the bridge, but all the while, Arimnestos is watching. Now they have 2 separate groups of Spartans after them, it’s not going to end well is it?
This is a really great series, I met both Gillen and colourist Jordie Bellaire at the Thought Bubble convention, and from talking to them, it’s clear how much effort and love they are putting into this series, there is thought behind the writing, the pencil art, and the colouring, all trying to make it as accurate as possible. But this isn’t a too realistic slog, it’s a very entertaining action story too.