Valiant Entertainment 2017
Written by Peter Milligan
Illustrated by Juan Jose Ryp, Ryan Lee & Roberto De La Torre
Coloured by Frankie D’Armata
Lettered by Dave Sharpe
The horrifying truth behind Rome’s grisly string of murders has finally come to light… but will Antonius Axia and his mysterious new partner – the gladiator Achillia – be able to stomach it? It’s a race against the clock to stop a serial killer – who may very well be the vengeful spirit of Apollo himself — before it strikes again! But should Antonius and Achillia fail in their mission, they’ll condemn not only Rome…but those Antonius holds dear as well.
It’s books like this one that make me miss the old standard of a mini-series being six issues long. Granted Peter doesn’t need six issues to tell the story and it does give JJ Ryp a chance to recharge but for people like me it would be so nice. Just the fact that Antonius is the world’s first detective is enough to hold my interest but wow can Peter weave into that the gods in such a way to make it all seem connected and natural.
So while Nero and his advisor’s try to place the blame for all that’s happening on Rubria and her Vestal Virgins things begin to heat up. I think the multiple angles that Peter manages to throw into the story is amazingly well done. Yes this Antonius’ book primarily but Nero is Emperor, for now, and Rubria is the head of the Vestal Virgins so they too play large roles in society at this juncture. The way that we see the back stabbing and machinations of those around them makes for interesting story possibilities.
I’m a huge Juan Jose Ryp fan and have been since the first time I saw his work. The attention to detail that he brings to everything he does is astonishing to see come to life. The little things like the pimple things on Nero’s face or the way the folds of cloth lay and the sheerness of some material comes across so beautifully. Most folks take those for granted but it’s really the little details that make the whole thing so successful. Plus while there’s no nudity per se the male body when it comes to the imagery of the Gods is strong and unapologetic and that’s a refreshing thing to see.
You have to admire the way Antonious sees the things that transpire throughout this book. I mean from the moment with his sons help that he realises he doesn’t believe in the Gods and that they cannot kill him to how he’s able to see through the mist as it were is really rather interesting. While we don’t see the exact thought process it’s clear that it’s there and we can sense it’s logical nature. It’s part of the fun of the stories that we can see how his viewpoint now differentiates from the norm and how that not only affects him but those around him.
With his son and he getting closer and bonding and with the events of the issue with Achillia there could very well be more detectioners on the horizon. It would be a welcome thing to see him pass on the knowledge forcing him to talk through how he sees things instead of relying on the magic the Virgins gave him.
This makes a highlight of the month for me because the book is just that good, strong and fascinating storytelling.