Monday 11 December 2017

Cu Chulainn gets a superhero makeover as myth goes graphic

Cu Chulainn and Queen Maeve.
Cu Chulainn and Queen Maeve.

John Spain, Books Editor

ANCIENT myths have never been this sexy.

In a new book based on one of Ireland's oldest legends, Cu Chulainn is as ripped as Sylvester Stallone in his 'Rocky' days and Queen Maeve has a body like Lara Croft and tops that barely stay on.

It is more like a cross between 'Tomb Raider' and 'Game Of Thrones' than the gentle illustrations in the storybooks of Irish myths and legends we all read as children.

The new Cu Chulainn picture book is as ferocious, bloody and sexy as anything in a video game.

Published next week, 'Celtic Warrior – the Legend of Cu Chulainn' is a graphic novel that will shock traditionalists and delight teenage readers.

The tale is retold as an epic saga of greed, butchery and sorcery.

The stunning illustrations bring to life the story of the boy who was renamed after the giant guard dog he killed and who as a young man singlehandedly defended Ulster against the marauding army of Queen Maeve of Connacht.

This is the myth of the Tain Bo Cuailnge, the story of Queen Maeve's obsession to acquire the Brown Bull of Cooley.

The Tain story appeared in written form in 12th-century Irish manuscripts and was translated into English by poet Thomas Kinsella in 1969 and illustrated by Louis le Brocquy.


This new version is very different.

The 128-page book is the work of Will Sliney, an awardwinning Cork-based illustrator who broke on to the worldwide scene illustrating graphic novels such as 'Star Wars', 'Farscape' and 'MacGyver'.

The story centres on the myth of The Tain, but we also get flashbacks to the hero's early life and how, having been born Setanta, he acquired the name Cu Chulainn (Hound of Culainn); how he was rewarded by Morrigan, the goddess of war, for saving her life; and how he acquired his supernatural abilities.

At the visceral climax of the story, Cu Chulainn stands alone against the thousands of warriors controlled by the enchantress Queen Maeve who is determined to capture the bull and claim the lands of Ulster.

He dies like a true superhero.

Supernatural feats of strength, ferocious battles and the tragic destinies of Cu Chulainn and his brother Ferdia are recreated in this actionpacked retelling of one of the most famous stories from Celtic myth.

The book finishes with the incident in which the dying Cu Chulainn is bound upright to a post so he can face his enemies – the image recreated in the statue that stands in the GPO.

'Celtic Warrior – the Legend of Cu Chulainn' will be published next week by O'Brien Press at €14.99.

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