Page 45 Review by Stephen
"The body must be cleansed before entering the sacred cave."
"Words to live by."
I do love Cassandra, chic yet louche, with a boyish blonde haircut, sunglasses even after dark, consistently smoking and sipping from a glass. McCrea's art is dainty and deliriously lithe here, quite the sharp contrast to what you might be used to in HITMAN etc.
It's also thunderously epic for a giant along the craggy Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland. Hints of Walt Simonson there, and if that evokes fond memories of Norse mythology then you're in for a treat for MYTHIC delivers that and far, far more in abundance.
Phil Hester is positively bursting with ideas: there's zero let-up as Mythic Lore Services dash across the globe. In addition to Cassandra (yes, that Cassandra but now she is listened to) their members boast Venus (yes, that Venus, even more beautiful and infinitely more approachable than ever, and a two-eyed Cyclops called Anatol.
"He's very sensitive about that second eye, Waterson. It's a birth defect. Don't bring it up."
Plus I'm positive this will prove your first experience of ghost candy.
But let's pull back to the beginning which had me from the very first page which reminded me of Alan Moore & Steve Parkhouse's hilariously grotesque and grotesquely hilarious BOJEFFRIES SAGA.
On it we're introduced to a poor young man trapped at a clapped out till in a run-down phone shop who is confronted by a hideously warty old woman whom I swear I last saw cleaning a lavatory sloppier than a cowshed in a Parisian hotel which haunts me to this day. Some of its wooden stairs were missing and our room wouldn't lock. I don't want to talk about the lavatory in any more detail. I'm not sure what I saw could have actually existed.
Anyway, our innocent young salesman Nate is in for a similarly nasty surprise when the harridan plops her mobile phone on his counter with the words "Phone dead". Then he makes the mistake of touching it. To his fingers sticks a thread attached via the phone to one of the woman's larger, thumb-sized facial pustules and he probably shouldn't have pulled on it because what pops out...
You will never squeeze a zit again.
The entire sequence is choreographed by McCrea with such exceptional physicality than I can feel the tension in that thread myself and feel it pulling on a pustule of my own which I haven't known in over three decades.
You're probably wondering what this book is actually about. So is the clerk once those demons are down.
"Nate, I'm not just here to spew cryptic exposition about your newfound destiny. Though I have to admit, I am pretty goddam great at it. I'm her to offer you a job."
The card says "Mythic Lore Services.".
Here's Cassandra confounding a scientist with a much merrier account of the world than the one he once thought he knew, her eyes glowing with the colours of the universe:
"We are told the sun tracking through the sky above is a mass of incandescent gas, our earthly home a randomly formed satellite.
"Of course. A kindergartner knows as much."
"These facts let you sleep at night, let you pretend to know what the world is all about. When actually the sun is pulled across the heavens by a flaming chariot piloted by a god clad in the dust of comets. Earthquakes are not the shifting of tectonic plates, but the wrestling of massive twin lizard-demons fighting for control of the underworld. The tides themselves rise and fall with the weeping of an immortal princess who sleeps beneath the shore awaiting her drowned lover's return. In other words, magic makes the world go round. And when it breaks, we fix it."
"Cass, you're not really supposed to just come out and say it like that."
"But I love the look on their faces."
They begin by curing a persistent valley drought in America which has nothing to do with global warming and everything to do with a sexual standoff between the mountains and the sky. They simply haven't fucked lately. It's up to one of them to seduce the mountains and cause a raging romantic jealousy, reigniting their elemental ardour. I'm not even kidding you.
That's their last easy mission as the various global teams become picked off one by one in a long-planned assault, leaving whoever's left to regroup and follow whatever legendary leads they can.
Oh, the surprises for Nate especially have only just begun.
Hester is on very rude form in both senses, upending all your expectations including that of the Midgard Serpent, so vast that it will one day encircle the Earth, thereby bringing about the end of the world.
"That's the Midgard Serpent? I expected... more."
"I'm a grower, not a shower, baby."
It's currently imprisoned close to the snow-swept South Pole. Now, why do you think that is the stupidest place on the planet to imprison the Midgard Serpent?
You'll find out. And so will they.
"Someone's trying to Ragnarok us."