Return to Olympus (11/14/2022 edition) – Multiversity Comics

Webcomics Weekly returns this week to Olympus via “Lore Olympus”, you may have heard of it.

Lore Olympus
Episodes 131-144
Updates on Sundays
By Rachel Smith
Reviewed by Mel Lake

This week, I revisited “Lore Olympus” instead of reading a new webcomic. It was definitely necessary for me to take a break from the endless drama of the Olympians and the Underworld. Trying to digest chunks of the story every two weeks didn’t allow me to enjoy the story. Consuming something like this, I think you either have to be addicted and obsessed with the weekly updates, or take the story slower, with breaks to get away from all the drama. Now that I’ve been away from it for a while, I’ve been able to come back and remember which characters I liked seeing and why.

Persephone and Hades have an honest conversation about what happened in her past that made Zeus stop her. She explains that she lost control after an incident involving mortals who killed her nymph friends and then mocked her goddess status. Persephone killed a mortal, then terrified him even more by becoming “fat” and changing his appearance. Hades comforts her and even shares his own traumatic past. He is, however, much older than Persephone and has had more time to heal from his painful childhood captivity. Once the two are honest with each other, their relationship seems to relax and become more comfortably seductive, rather than full of tension.

I’ve been hard enough on “Lore Olympus” in the past to consistently employ the “woman loses control of her emotions and physical powers” trope. I hate the use of this tactic to strip female superheroes because it is so often used in real life to disqualify women who seek positions of authority in society. However, I think this set of episodes really does a great job of tying Persephone’s and Hades’ experiences of losing physical control to PTSD. Before that, when it wasn’t clear Why Persephone couldn’t control herself, it was easier to say “the young girl can’t control herself” rather than “the young girl is dealing with flashbacks of PTSD”. By having Hades share her own struggles for control with Persephone, it defines her physical symptoms as a response to trauma rather than a weakness or something wrong with her, specifically.

Meanwhile, Zeus is still looking for Persephone and Minthe is still after Hades. The Olympian zoom call initiated by Zeus is hilarious, and exactly the kind of humor I love about “Lore Olympus”. However, I feel like the longer Minthe and Thanatos’ story drags on, the less I care. Minthe’s subplot feels like a holdover from the first act, and the narrative should have moved on to bigger conflicts. Similarly, when Thanatos meets Daphne, who is disappointed in Apollo’s obsession with Persephone, she asks Thanatos why he cares so much about Hades and Persephone’s relationship in the first place. That’s something I would like to know too. Many characters are obsessed with Persephone for no clear reason. Thanatos and Daphne seem to be headed for a romance, but I honestly think a more interesting subplot would be Thanatos realizing he’s actually jealous of Persephone because he has feelings for Hades. (But nobody is gay in “Lore Olympus” for some reason? Maybe there is a character? It seems strange to me that there is very little that suggests that non-human characters of the same sex or similar sex might be attracted to each other, but this story is very much about heterosexual relationships.) While I like the character design of Thanatos, I’m just not sure what he and Minthe have to add to the story that they haven’t already done.

As this batch of episodes draws to a close, Hades and Persephone grow closer physically, even going so far as a pretty heavy makeup session. But since Persephone also has trauma from her assault by Apollo, she feels conflicted about becoming sexually involved with Hades. The way the couple negotiates this aspect of their relationship ultimately feels like adult conversation between adults. I’ve criticized Persephone a lot for saying one thing and immediately doing another, but here she is able to clearly articulate her confusion around sex and its limits. Thank the gods!

I also had fewer issues with artwork or writing for this batch of episodes, which was a relief. Persephone doesn’t have doe eyes like she sometimes does. While I know the choice is intentional and makes us think about how the public and society sexualizes young women, when Persephone looks like a baby, it makes me cringe to see her in sexual situations with Hades from giant size.

Although “Lore Olympus” continues to tread familiar ground, with Hades and Persephone’s willful relationship continuing, the characters have slowly matured over the course of the series. Story detours like the shopping spree or zoom call slow the pace and your mileage may vary depending on your appreciation, but they provide respite from the constant feelings and trauma processing that otherwise dominate the story at this stage. I still love seeing the Hounds of Hades and more of the Underworld too. Going back to “Lore Olympus” every few months and catching up on the drama will hopefully help me appreciate Persephone’s story a little more, because I want to know how she ends up becoming the queen of the underworld and that part of the the story is yet to come.