Comic Review: Britannia #1 (Valiant)

This new historical fiction series is set in 60 A.D. Rome, where Nero reigns as Emperor. The story begins with the great vestal Rubia requesting for centurion Antonius Axia help […]

This new historical fiction series is set in 60 A.D. Rome, where Nero reigns as Emperor.

The story begins with the great vestal Rubia requesting for centurion Antonius Axia help to save one of Rubia’s vestal virgins known as Drusa who has been  kidnapped by an Etruscan cult. Despite hesitation, Antonius rescues Drusa but is forever scarred by the events that happened during the rescue. Despite the trauma, 6 years pass and  Antonius is regarded as a public hero in Rome. Yet despite such regard, there are more sinister threats looming, and more questionable games at play, manipulating everyone behind the scenes requiring  Antonius to revisit the horrors of his past.

This is a very good first issue. There is a lot of historical information in terms of setting and culture within this book. Peter Milligan writes an interesting tale that is as much of a history lesson as it is a fictional story. It’s actually engaging and feels like a mixture of 300 and Game of Thrones in terms of political meddling and corruption within the Empire of Nero, and the amount of bloodshed that is dished out in this book. The head of the Vestals Rubia is as suspicious of a figure despite her holy appearance. The Emperor Nero is savage, looking for any reason to dish out death wherever and however he feels like.

The Protagonist Antonius is noble as he is conflicted. In a way, he’s like a more chilled version of Guts from Berserk, but that’s probably a poor comparison on my part. The art by Juan Jose is as beautiful as it is brutal, providing moments of violent aggression while balancing it with cheerful interaction between characters. The colors by Jordie Bellaire are fitting to the tone of 60 A.D Rome and serves its purpose well when action is displayed. The introductory art by Raul Allen and Patricia Martin are stunning. If anything, those introductory pages are wallpaper worthy. There is also a backup feature written by Dr. Karen Hersh, Associate Professor of the Greek and Roman classics department at Temple University. The backup dabbles in the brief ancient history of the Vestal Virgins of Rome. It’s interesting and insightful, providing historical context and content that help cement the roles and duties of the Vestals.  You get a cool historical fiction story with bits and pieces of historical commentary, what more can one ask for? I’m interested to see where the story goes next issue.

Anthony Andujar Jr.

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