Foreword Reviews

This Winter, Comics Draw Upon History

Historic Graphic Novels

Assassin’s Creed books can serve as a jumping off point for lessons of history.

This winter it’s all about comics that play fast and loose with history. Four of the six comics I’m spotlighting in the upcoming Winter 2016 issue engage with the past. Why, you might ask, am I using such vague terms when I could just “historical comics are hot”? Well, because none of them use history in quite the same way.

Of course, whether they’re true to history or not (and in most cases they’re a lot more true than not, despite the fantasy and sci-fi elements prevalent in many of the stories), at the end of the day these are great resources to spark further discussions in the classroom. Topics this winter include feudal Japan, Paradise Lost, the role of the Dalai Lama, ancient Egyptian royal courts, Greek mythology, art history, philosophy, and archaeology.

As I’ve said before, comics are a great way to engage reluctant readers in learning. History in particular has the unfortunate reputation of being dry and boring. As these books show, it is anything but.


Nichiren (Middleway Press), by Masahiko Murakami and illustrated by Ken Tanaka, is a fictionalized account of thirteenth-century Japanese Buddhist monk Nichiren.


Assassin’s Creed—Leila (Vol. 6) (Titan Books), by Eric Corbeyran and illustrated by Djillali Defali, is based off the popular video game and uses sci-fi elements to send people back in time to the minds of their ancestors to hunt for mystical artifacts and, you know, violently kill people.


The Adventures of the 19XX—Shining Skull 1936, by Paul Roman Martinez, follows the adventures of a secret society of adventurers (some of whom possess magic) who run around in a reimagined 1930s trying to save the world from the forces of evil.


Prometheus Eternal (Locust Moon Press and Philadelphia Museum of Art), edited by Josh O’Neill, Andrew Carl, and Chris Stevens, compiles a variety of different reinterpretations and reimaginings of the ancient Greek myth of Prometheus, the titan who stole fire from Olympus and brought it down to humanity.

All four are absolutely fantastic comics and I highly recommend adding them to your TBR piles. You’ll be able to read all about them in our forthcoming Winter Issue, on newsstands (and here online) on December 1.

And it’s a trend that seems to be continuing. I already have a Greek-myth based anthology, this one involving Dionysus, and a Joan of Arc comic for Spring Issue consideration. It’s a good time to be a history fan.

Allyce Amidon
Allyce Amidon is the associate editor at Foreword Reviews. You can follow her on Twitter @allyce_amidon

Allyce Amidon

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