Valiant Entertainment 2018
Written by Peter Milligan
Illustrated by Robert Gill, Juan Castro & Brian Thies
Coloured by Jose Villarrubia & Andrew Dalhouse
Lettered by Dave Sharpe
Using his understanding of cause and effect, human psychology, and the subconscious, Antonius now works, using his deductive skills to solve cases as the world’s first detective. These abilities are now being put to the test, as Emperor Nero has dispatched Antonius to recover three Roman standards – objects symbolizing the power of the Empire – lost in battle deep in the Germanic forest of Tottenwald. Antonius, aided by the gladiatrix Achillia, must uncover the mystery behind the disappearance of these lost relics, or risk the end of Nero’s reign and the glory of the empire…
Hands down this continues to be one of the most well conceived and thought out, executed books that is on the market today. The concept alone is incredibly well done and that we see him in this age where Rome ruled most of the known world well that just means there is plenty of places where belief’s are taken to the extreme or just unknown to us as familiarly as others. Most American’s only care about themselves and European History no matter how important to the way the world actually works is something they are all to ignorant about. So kudos for using comics to expand the mind and bring knowledge to the masses in way that’s as entertaining as it can be educational.
Peter does such a great job with the structure of the story and in creating such a nice ebb & flow as to how we see information unfold. I find the way that Peter has Antonius work and that no one else can even come close to understanding his line or thinking is one of the more fascinating aspects of the book. I mean I understand that the Eagles were “lost” in a Germanic Forrest according to all reports but really in this era where everyone plotted behind each others backs in the hopes to gain power and notoriety or become some god-like figure. So of course the Eagles aren’t going to be there they are going to be with whomever wants Nero to fail the most. Oh I feel like a Detectioner!
I am always so impressed with the interiors of this book. The attention to detail, the manipulation of the varying weights in the linework to create such subtle moments in the middle of some broad bold lines really has this massive impact on how we see the story unfold. Plus there’s also those Blue Eyes of his that pop making him the handsome man to be feared for more than his skills. There’s nudity but we never really see the bits and pieces, which is a shame if you ask me heck we’ve already seen what Bruce Wayne’s packing. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels shows off such a great eye for storytelling. The way backgrounds are utilised is sensational to me in how it expands the moment, where on Earth they are and just the sheer size and scope of the story itself.
There is just something about the mix of reality and fantasy in this that makes that much more interesting. Majority of these characters really did exist and these were the roles they played to a degree and being able to use that as base and then expand that to create a whole fictional story that envelops the time period and makes you believe in the Vestal Virgins, kind of like the Oracles, and their power. When I can actually see them having the power to sway Nero and the others but in a much different way.
This is an incredible premise that is told exceptionally well through story and characterisation where you can be transported beyond time and space to something extraordinary. Combine that with these interiors and well this is among the reasons why this is a must have, required reading book.