Valiant Entertainment 2016
Written by Peter Milligan
Illustrated by Juan Jose Ryp
Coloured by Jordie Bellaire
Lettered by Dave Sharpe
The Powerful Vestal, Rubria, asks Antonius to save a fellow vestal kidnapped at the hands of demon-worshipping cultists. A xia agrees, and saves the girl, but the events of the mission shatter his mind.The vestals rehabilitate Antonius, performing sacred rituals and allowing him to read their codex — writings that offer reasons for why men do what they do. Cause, effect, and motive, centuries before modern psychology. Six Years pass. Axia has built a reputation for solving mysteries. Many call him a Detectioner. In Britannia, the Darkness calls…
What an amazing story this is. I love that Axia is like the world’s first detective and that his powers of observation are attributed to witchcraft or from the gods. The way Peter is able to showcase how just being a trained observer and how to accurately interpret what you see can have this unnerving effect on people. More so when the Vestal’s use magic and the gods to have trained him. This issue might give us another clue in that regard but we’ll have to wait further to see that explored.
Now I’m not a detective but i’ve been reading comics long enough to spot a few telltale signs. Like the fact that Prefect Gabinus who is now in control of the fort cared not what he was going to put into his report. Nero is a madman and a soldier in his army would never risk the wrath of his emperor so his in desire to be rid of Axia you automatically know there’s something wrong here. I do like the little subtle moments that cause Axia concern and then those that seem off but is unable to place why. The way the story is written the characterisation presented to us by Peter makes this one of those infectious and fascinating reads.
The story with all it’s little clues and observations are made all the more clear and identifiable with Ryp’s interior artwork. His attention to detail is utterly astonishing. What he can do to bring a story to life is why I love anything he works on. I mean the look on the soldier’s faces or the way the eye of a horse is looking just set things up in such a way that you kind of scrutinise the scenes. I found it humorous that Nero is surrounded by soap the way he is to hide his privates and the fact that his nipples are huge. It really helps to picture his madness and idiocy as a ruler into perspective.
So what dark forces are at work here in the land of Britannia? We don’t know but from what we can see it’s fully in charge of the Roman soldiers that are stationed here. With the way they treat the local Brits and how they treat Axia and Bran and are as fearless of their Emperor says that they may have gone off the deep end in ways we’ve yet to see. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same force has infected the locals as well but we’ll see what happens next issue.
The world’s first Detectioner has a lot on his hands and it looks like he’s going to need all the help the Vestal Virgin’s back home can muster to see him through this. Exciting, different and a whole new way of looking at this world where gods and magic were the norm and science something no one knew about.