We Who Are About To Die
Valiant Entertainment 2017
Written by Peter Milligan
Illustrated by Juan Jose Ryp
Coloured by Frank D’Armata
Lettered by Dave Sharpe
Archillia isn’t the only mystery in Rome, as rumors of Gods’ going mad have spread throughout the city, enforced by the bodies of young nobles found at temple altars. With fear coursing through the streets, Antonious is tasked by the frightened Emperor Nero, and Rubria head of the Vestal Virgins, to get to the truth behind these bloody crimes.
Alright first of all these are bloody brilliant! From the mind of a madman or a genius take your pick because seriously blending in the beginning of an actual detector into a world ruled by gods and superstition this comes across as one the best, most entertaining contradiction around. Then throw Juan Jose Ryp into the mix and this goes to a whole new stratosphere of storytelling, and yes i’ll go into more detail with my thoughts on that.
I will say this though I love the way Peter gets us into this world. Through those “throw away” characters to it’s main players the personalities and convictions not to mention their actions all bring us into this era and these people in the most spectacular ways. Plus we get some great imagery to go along with that which only serves to reinforce those beliefs and give them validity. I’m infatuated with Antonious, his slave and the way Nero, the Mad Emperor, behaves then to get a really good look at Archillia well let’s just say things keep getting better and better, see more intense!
Juan has some seriously mad skills when it comes to illustration. I mean the look, feel and overall appearance his people are utterly amazing. Then add in the little details like what we see in the clouds or the growing rash on Nero’s face (okay rash=infection of some sort) and things become more impressive. HIs attention to detail blows most everyone else out of the water with how intricate and stunning he can make it be. His eye for storytelling is gorgeous as he utilises page layouts through their angles, perspective and backgrounds to really showcase all we need to see and then some!
So as Antonius gets deeper and deeper into the mystery of why the Gods’ are angry with Rome his life becomes more and more complicated. With pressure from members of the Senate who keep losing children to these angry Gods’ Nero is forced to break promises and satisfy his more twisted senses at Antonious’ expense. Throw in an angry young woman whose skill with a sword and a willingness to kill and you’ve got even more trouble. I mean what Emperor wants to let an Arena attraction go free when killing them would be so much better?
The way things are coming together and playing out is fantastically paced. The characterisation is as extraordinary as the interiors and then there’s just the setting itself it doesn’t get much more grandiose than this!