Peter Milligan and Davide Gianfelice’s Greek Street: Cassandra Complex

greek-street-2I’m sure you’ve heard the song “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” from Kiss Me, Kate. Well, in the case of Peter Milligan and Davide Gianfelice’s Greek Street, it should go “Brush Up Your Aeschylus.” And Sophocles. And Euripides. Because you’re going to run into all of them here. In one story.

Cassandra Complex moves the focus slightly away from Eddie, who was the central character in Blood Calls to Blood to Lord Menon and his crazy daughter, Sandy. I should say, perhaps, that the focus moves around, from Sandy to Eddie to Menon to the detective Dedalus, as they meet, part, and meet again. It’s complex and sometimes close to incoherent, at least if you’re trying to relate is to the aforementioned tragedians. Add in a few random elements — a suicide bomber, for example — and it moves even closer to completely random.

One thing that becomes readily apparent here is that, although Milligan is recombining the stories from Greek myths and legends, they have turned into nothing but stories — there’s little resonance, not much sense of the story being a reflection of something larger. Rather, it’s a pastiche built around a story line that doesn’t really have much to do with the elements being quoted, if I can put it that way: it’s a crime thriller, with an emphasis on the noir, that breaks into high-sounding dialogue that could have been borrowed from a nineteenth-century translation of Sophocles. The sense is that Fate is in control, it’s all pretty much pre-ordained, and the chorus is sitting there smirking as the actors flail around.

I am, however, becoming a fan of Davide Gianfelice’s drawing. It sharp, angular, fluent, exaggerated enough to be expressive without becoming grotesque — except in those instances where grotesque has a point — and altogether apt.

Thinking back on it, forget the Greek tragedians — you’re better off not thinking about them, and much better off not trying to relate what you know of the original stories to this one. It makes a lot more sense that way.

(Vertigo, 2010)

About Robert Tilendis

Robert M. Tilendis lives a deceptively quiet life. He has made money as a dishwasher, errand boy, legal librarian, arts administrator, shipping expert, free-lance writer and editor, and probably a few other things he’s tried very hard to forget about. He has also been a student of history, art, theater, psychology, ceramics, and dance. Through it all, he has been an artist and poet, just to provide a little stability in his life. Along about January of every year, he wonders why he still lives someplace as mundane as Chicago; it must be that he likes it there.

You may e-mail him, but include a reference to Green Man Review so you don’t get deleted with the spam.