Content Warning: Lore Olympus features a storyline about sexual assault and gaslighting that might be triggering for readers.
I’m frequently not a the forefront of trends. In fact, I’m often very behind the times, particularly with things that take off on the more popular corners of the Internet. (Like TikTok, which I still don’t completely get.) I fully admit to diving into fandoms years after they became popular. But it rarely, if ever, dampens my excitement and enjoyment if I come into something late.
The first episode of Lore Olympus, the wildly popular webcomic inspired by the myth of Hades and Persephone, went live way back in 2018. It wasn’t until 2-plus years later that I dove into catching up, even after hearing folks rave about it for a long while. But, like I said, my enjoyment is absolutely undampened. I’m getting ahead of myself, though. Let’s back up a few thousand years?
Those of you who studied Greek mythology in school—or were one of those kids, like myself, who was obsessed with D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths—might be familiar with the myth of Hades and Persephone. The TL;DR version goes something like this: Hades fell in love with Persephone while on a trip to Earth, and, not caring much for consent, he kidnapped her and took her back with him to the underworld with the intent of making her his wife. The rest of the details vary; some stories speak of the pomegranate seeds she ate, causing her to have to return to the underworld for four months out of the year. Others talk about how Persephone actually fell for Hades, too.
Lore Olympus takes that basic story and runs with it—in webcomic form. But this isn’t your standard historical retelling; creator Rachel Smythe has crafted an updated, part-modern-day version of the myth filled with compelling characters and a heavy helping of slow-burn chemistry. In her version of the universe, both the underworld and Mount Olympus are modern places with cars, cell phones, and skyscrapers. It’s only when the gods go to Earth that they have to dress like the versions of themselves we mortals recognize, long hair and togas and sandals that lace all the way up to the knee.
Smythe’s Hades is also a much more decent version of himself. He believes in consent and autonomy. On the outside he comes off as cold—as ruler of the underworld, he’s got a reputation to live up to—but he’s actually quite sweet and total book boyfriend material. He’s smitten with Persephone from the start, but never pushes things or makes her uncomfortable with his intentions.
Persephone, too, has many layers. She’s got a secret that she and her mother have tried very hard to cover up. It’s one that makes her fragile and afraid, but she’s also unbelievably strong. And even when her naivete leads her into a sexual assault situation with a different, extremely horrible relation of Hades’s (see Content Warning up top), she doesn’t let it break her. And, in fact, she uses that trauma to rise above. (And, hopefully, help bring said horrible god to justice, but—sorry for slight spoilers—we’re not there yet, story-wise.)
And their chemstry—whooooo, folks, it’s a 10 on the Swoonworthy Scale, although the slow burn definitely had me thanking my behind-the-times situation because I didn’t have to wait as long as most to get some satisfaction. (That said, the comic’s reached Episode 149, we’re well into the second “season,” and things are still pretty chaste between the two main characters. When I said slow burn, I mean slow burn.)
The fact that Smythe is the main artist, as well as the story’s creator, is pretty dang impressive, too. The art of Lore Olympus is as nuanced and lush as the story, and the use of bright colors and saturated backgrounds makes for a truly unique reading experience. My biggest complaint is that there are occasional glaring editing errors that pull me out of the reading experience. (They have editors, and I would never suggest that I’d be better at it … but I’d 100% be willing to provide a second or third proof for a brief sneak peek at what’s to come!)
Since falling into the fandom, Saturday nights have become some of my favorite in the week. (That’s when new episodes go live.) I was super excited to hear that a physical version of the comic is coming in October. And there’s even a rumor that there’s a Netflix series in the works with the Jim Henson Company, but we shall see if that comes to fruition. (When I dive into a fandom, I dive deep.)
No pressure to be anything more than the awesome webcomic it is, though. Me and my Underworld Con ’96 hoodie are fans to stay.