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Review: Britannia: We Who Are About To Die #3

“Wrath of the gods!

The women of Rome march to rebellion! Magic and mystery continue to intertwine as the clock ticks down to Rubria’s final hours. Will Antonius Axia and his mysterious new partner—the brutal female gladiator known as Achillia—untangle the knots that threaten to hang the Roman Empire…or will Nero finally obtain the dark power he lusted for? As the beaten ghost of Apollo finally rises to cast his dark judgment on all of Rome, history’s first detective must act swiftly before humanity’s final hours slip into madness!”

There are three glaring questions I had upon reading this issue that I really want to talk about first and foremost because ultimately they took me out of the comic too early. Now, I am aware that I may be overly tough on the comic, and that you may not agree, but I feel that these things warrant a mention. There will be minor spoilers for certain events within We Who Are About To Die #3, but I will attempt to avoid plot spoiler where possible.

  • “We’re doomed anyway. You might as well talk…” Because having a conversation during intense physical exercise where you are fighting for your life is a priority – or even an easy thing to do.
  • Ten minutes is a long time when fighting. I don’t have much experience in gladiatorial fighting, but I have fenced and regularly play archery tag. Ten minutes… the fight would have been long over, and the time was used as a brief pause. Had it been ten seconds, I wouldn’t have noticed. But ten minutes?
  • How the hell did a certain character get back on the streets after casually walking into an arena and have Nero call for his death? Did Nero forget that he’s not a prisoner? Did he care? Did nobody else think to stop him?

These three bullet points aren’t the only problems I had with this issue, but they’re the most glaring ones. Unfortunately, despite Juan Jose Ryp‘s hyper detailed art (that’s so great during the action scenes), We Who Are About To Die #3 continues the downward trend set by the second issue (which I didn’t review) as Peter Milligan takes a very interesting concept with a lot of potential and throws the baby out with the bathwater because of a few simple things that I outlined above.

I haven’t mentioned that the story seems to hover between wanting to be a supernatural tale and wanting to be a realistic story. This isn’t helped by Antonius Axia’s stubborn refusal to believe in the supernatural despite all he’s seen so far – at this point it’s probably time he opened his bloody eyes and pulled his head out of his arse. Nor have I mentioned how for a comic that should be detail orientated with Axia acting as the first detective, he seems to have information dropped onto his head more than he does figure it out.

And in what world would a smart man willingly walk into an arena commonly used for fighting to the death to ask somebody a question? Apparently this one (in issue #2)!

Look, it may seem as though I’m being overly harsh on the comic, but with the promise shown both during the first miniseries and in the synopsis of this series… I just feel like there’s a better story beneath the flaws of this issue. I don’t know whether we’ll get it at this point. Ultimately, this is still worth reading if you’ve read this far into the series, but just be aware that it’s not as solid as previous issues in the series.

Story: Peter Milligan Art: Juan Jose Ryp Colourist: Frankie D’Armata
Story: 6 Art: 8.25 Overall: 6.75
Recommendation: Read if you’re invested. Pass if you’re not

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.