How hard can it be to tackle one single 12-year-old demigod? Even if he is armed with amazing powers and a magic sword and is accompanied by two ride-or-die friends (who, arguably, did most of the heavy lifting in his first quest). Where are the results from these so-called dangerous monsters, gods, and titans?
What we’re trying to say is that, while demigods may be famous for their numerous near-death experiences, Percy and his pals (mostly) walk away from their adventures unscathed (emotional scars notwithstanding).
So, what’s the issue? Are these demigods blessed with divine luck as well as staggering power? Is the Camp Half-Blood training regimen really that effective? Or perhaps Percy’s opponents aren’t as vicious as we’ve been led to believe . . . despite centuries of hearing otherwise.
To get to the bottom of this conundrum, we’ve decided to rank the performances of each major antagonist from The Lightning Thief to discover where they fumbled the ball. And who knows? Maybe all these villains need are some new battle tactics to finally redeem themselves. As long as they can get their heads on straight (or reattached to their bodies).
We have to hand it to Alecto for committing fully to her disguise as Percy’s pre-algebra teacher, Mrs. Dodds. We can’t imagine it was easy for this agent of Hades to wait in the wings for the right time to strike at Percy. Thankfully, from everything we’ve heard, Yancy Academy and the Underworld have way more in common than you may realize.
Unfortunately for her, Alecto quickly proved to be a better actor than a fighter. As the first opponent Percy ever faced, she has the distinct honor of being the only monster he defeated before he even arrived at CHB. She made a few subsequent appearances in Percy’s life, but we could never really take her seriously as a major threat. In the end, she’s more intimidating as a teacher than a torturer.
Rating: 1 flaming whip out of 5
While Alecto may have whiffed her assignment, the legendary Minotaur came much closer to taking Percy down before he reached Camp Half-Blood. Despite the monster’s tighty whities, we still view him as one of the most deadly and imposing creatures Percy ever faced.
Though the Minotaur lost his initial battle with Percy, he was still able to snag some form of victory from the jaws of defeat—at least as far as Hades was concerned. We’ll never forget the image of Percy just narrowly delivering a final blow to the giant man-bull right before Sally Jackson was tragically whisked off to the underworld. But alas, we must dock the Minotaur an additional point for losing a horn during the fight. That kind of sloppiness might be excused in the Labyrinth, but certainly not on Long Island.
Rating: 3 underpants out of 5
Judging from the collection of petrified statues that can be found at Aunty Em’s Emporium, we feel safe in assuming that Medusa is typically very adept in her career of turning people into stone. Just one look into her eyes and it’s over.
We wonder if Medusa would have been more successful in trapping Percy forever if she had properly accounted for the additions of Annabeth and Grover. She likely would have triumphed over the trio if she’d invited her long-lost sisters to the party. What were their names again?
Alas, Medusa was defeated by Percy in a singularly brutal fashion. But hey, at least her awesome power was put to good use in the end. We’ve got to grant her a bonus point for making prolonged eye contact with a certain smelly stepfather.
Rating: 4 bottles of snake oil conditioner out of 5
Procrustes, aka “Crusty,” (aka Percy’s brother from another mother) may have been the most unsettling antagonist that Percy, Annabeth, and Grover faced during their first quest. For those who may not recall, this guy was the owner of Crusty’s Water Bed Palace in California.
His main schtick was to extend his customers’ limbs until they fit perfectly into his custom waterbed. But once his victims exceeded 6 feet in height, they would be cut back down to size. In The Lightning Thief, Crusty was obviously trying to recapture his glory days of battling heroes such as Theseus in ancient Greece. Back then, he used an iron stretcher. But somewhere along the way, he decided that waterbeds were a more functional tool for torture. And while that’s a worthwhile debate to have, in the end, he probably should have branched out and found another gimmick.
But maybe that would have been too much of a stretch.
Rating: 2 reports to the Better Business Bureau out of 5
Ares is the only member of the Greek pantheon that Percy went toe-to-toe with in The Lightning Thief. And, if we’re being totally honest, we still have a hard time accepting the outcome of this battle.
And no, we’re not just saying that because the god of war insists, to this day, that he “subconsciously let Percy win.” We’ve also heard that Ares was “having an off day,” “was prevented from winning by Kronos,” and was “distracted because he couldn’t remember if he turned off the oven before he left the house.”
If we don’t accept his excuses, we would have to admit that Percy came out on top due to his superior cunning and strategic mind. But we’re not quite ready to make that claim to the big man himself.
So, let’s just accept that this so-called “Ares” was clearly a lesser Titan in disguise and move on . . .
Rating: 4 motorcycle parking tickets out of 5
The Actual Lightning Thief
By the end of Percy’s first quest, only one true villain can claim a clear victory over Percy Jackson. If you know, you know.
And by now, you should also know that the most effective way to take down a demigod is not by charging at them or trying to claw their eyes out. You only win through subterfuge, a whole lot of patience, and willingness to play the long game.
Oh, and a well-placed poisonous scorpion. Those are always useful.
Rating: 5 tragic backstories out of 5
Where do you think most of Percy’s opponents went wrong? Be sure to let us know!