Written by: Peter Milligan
Art by: Robert Gill
Colors by: Jose Villarubia and David Rogriguez
Letters by: Dave Sharp
I’m a sucker for Ancient Roman stories. Maybe it’s the fact I’m made up of mostly Italian immigrant blood, but something about the stories of everyfolk surrounding the rise and fall of the ancient empire instantly draws me in. I’m invested. I’m ready. Pair the setting with one of my favorite stories/tropes surrounding literature of the era – the lost aquillae of Roman legions – and I’m you’re reader!
I wasn’t expecting anything particularly unique. After the subtext of 2009’s The Eagle, there’s really no comic that can live up to Channing Tatum saying ‘I thought I’d lost you,’ in quite that tone of voice. The reference is not without merit: the plot of Brittania: Lost Eagles of Rome, is remarkably similar to that of The Eagle, right down to the love-interest slave assisting the lone centurion into the wild. The main character of Brittania even looks a bit like Tatum.
The art in the book is lovely, and it’s obvious that the artist is exceptionally talented–tricky forms like horses, ancient buildings, and roman armor are all extremely well done. There is an issue with the women; the Roman ladies with speaking roles are all lithe, light-haired, and blue eyed. The face shapes are almost identical, and it’s actually confusing when we get a similar shot of two different ladies one page apart, and they look almost exactly the same. It seems a common problem that comic artists have a hard time drawing different women’s faces.
The comic sets up the political intrigue, but I have a strong feeling that I’m going to have to get a spreadsheet set up to keep track of all the characters introduced. Antonious seems a decent protagonist, if a little bland, with none of the quirks or charm of many other popular detectives. He seems to draw from hard-boiled gumshoe types, and is incredibly straightforward and direct.
I hope to see more of Antonious’s personality in later issues, and I hope the art gets more room to breathe and experiment as we move forward. Overall, I enjoyed it, but I feel like I know this Roman story of corruption, honor, danger, and barbarian lands.