Writtten by Paul Benjamin; Art by Steven and Megumi Cummings
(Note: While the first and second volumes were circulated in print, the third is only available online. Unfortunately, since Tokyopop has closed down, you’ll have to look for it on online libraries.
Pantheon High tells the story of four special teenagers. Griffin, Grace, Aziza, and Yukio attend the premier high school for Greek, Norse, Egyptian, and Japanese demigods. These are the offspring of godly and human unions. Our young leading guys and gals face any number of harrowing tasks, including journeying through the underworld, battling ambitious gods, and creaming rival Gilgamesh High at their own game. Aside from just trying to graduate, these four must fight for their lives and even for the fates of all the pantheons.
This series is a combination of your typical high school slice-of-life manga paired with a smattering of the world’s most well known myths. The writing was cliched, and sometimes painful to read. The characters are your typical highschool stereotypes. Griffin’s the emo-kid, Grace the super smart, super powerful girl with few friends, Aziza the popular ditz, and Yukio the ridiculously lucky jock. However, the story almost made up for it. Griffin is gloomy because his father is Hades, god of the dead. Yukio is so lucky because his mother is the Japanese goddess of good fortune.
As a mythology fan, I fell in love with how the myths were integrated into the story. With pages full of references, the various gods of these different pantheons were masterfully integrated. For example, teachers for the school come from all over the world. Hercules is the gym teacher and a mummy guards the library. Even though all the characters fell into their stereotype niches, they did it in a way that satisfied the canon of the ethos. I was able to overlook the overused catch phrases because I was so entranced with the backstory. When I didn’t know what I was reading about, there was also a handy glossary in the back of the book with information about the more obscure myths. Even if you only know one or two things about the myths, you can still really enjoy this series.
The art was satisfactory. If you’re a comics fan, either western or eastern, you should be able to tell that the art of Pantheon High isn’t entirely either. It’s a mix of western comics and manga. Sometimes I felt that the artists were trying too hard to incorporate the manga feel, inserting unnecessary symbols or drawing some ridiculous expressions on Yukio’s face. If they had just stuck to what was their own style, I would have thought a little higher of the work. Nevertheless, the art style is what I’d expect from a western-eastern mix, and does a good job in portraying the melting-pot that the series is.
While the writing itself left something to be desired, the concept and art pulled Pantheon High through. However, I feel that if it had lasted any longer it would have gone dry. Good thing it only lasted three volumes. I was genuinely entertained while reading this and would recommend it to any fan of modern media and ancient mythology.