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Review: Britannia: We Who Are About To Die #4

BRITANNIA2_004_COVER-A_MACKThe 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.

After the last issue, my expectations for Britannia: We Who Are About To Die #4 were, to put it politely, in the toilet. The were so low that I almost didn’t bother reading the issue, but as I’m sure you can tell I did end up opening the review PDF.

At this point, if you read my review of issue #3 you’ll know I had some issues with the way that Peter Milligan wrote certain aspects of the issue. Thankfully that isn’t the case here; We Who Are About To Die #4 is a stronger issue than the third issue was, because the time where the action and plot furthering dialogue were happening at once were kept to a minimum.

While the issue had the distinct feel of the last few scenes of an episode of Scooby Doo as it wrapped up the four part story, the finale of We Who Are About To Die was stronger than the closing chapter of the first miniseries. Milligan reverses the downward trend of the last two issues (although to be fair the second issue was still good, just not as good as the first) as he neatly ties everything together – without the comic feeling too rushed.

Almost every thread is tied up, although some are done so better than others, the issue left me feeling as though this story at least was complete – if not the strongest from the publisher that I’ve ever read.

Juan Jose Ryp and Frankie D’Armata continue to breath life into the pages of the comic as only they can; again, the hyper detailed art is incredibly strong here, which I’ve come to expect from Ryp and D’Armata’s work over the past year and change.

At the end of the day the issue does have some minor problems; the Scooby Dooesque conclusion doesn’t work as well within the general context of the story as I’d have hoped, and had the line “and I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for that pesky Detectioner!” appeared I wouldn’t have been surprised. But I think I would have laughed.

As I said, not a bad issue, but not as great as the first.

Story: Peter Milligan Art: Juan Jose Ryp Colourist: Frankie D’Armata
Story: 7.75 Art: 8.25 Overall: 7.75 Recommendation: Read

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review. 

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Preview: Britannia: We Who Are About to Die #4 (of 4)

BRITANNIA: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE #4 (of 4)

Written by PETER MILLIGAN
Art by JUAN JOSÉ RYP with RYAN LEE and ROBERTO DE LA TORRE
Cover A by DAVID MACK (MAY171982)
Cover B by JUAN JOSÉ RYP (MAY171983)
Variant Cover by LEIF JONES (MAY171984)
Variant Cover by ADAM GORHAM (MAY171985)
Variant Cover by DAVE JOHNSON (MAY171986)
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | VALIANT PRESTIGE | T+ | On Sale JULY 19 (FOC – 6/26/17)

Death and the deity!

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.

Visionary creators Peter Milligan (Shade, the Changing Man) and Juan José Ryp (BRITANNIA) bring the latest case for history’s first detective to a chilling close…and forever alter the history of civilization itself!

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. 

Preview: Britannia: We Who Are About to Die #3 (of 4)

BRITANNIA: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE #3 (of 4)

Written by PETER MILLIGAN
Art by JUAN JOSÉ RYP
Cover A by DAVID MACK (APR172130)
Cover B by JUAN JOSÉ RYP (APR172131)
Variant Cover by ROBERT GILL (APR172132)
Variant Cover by ADAM GORHAM (APR172133)
Variant Cover by DAVE JOHNSON (APR172134)
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | VALIANT PRESTIGE | On Sale JUNE 21st (FOC–5/29/17)

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!

Preview: Britannia: We Who Are About to Die #2

BRITANNIA: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE #2 (of 4)

Written by PETER MILLIGAN
Art by JUAN JOSÉ RYP
Cover A by DAVID MACK (MAR172177)
Cover B by JUAN JOSE RYP (MAR172178)
Variant Cover by CLAYTON HENRY (MAR172179)
Variant Cover by ADAM GORHAM (MAR172180)
Variant Cover by DAVE JOHNSON (MAR172181)
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | VALIANT PRESTIGE | On Sale MAY 17 (FOC – 4/24/17)

God complex!

Achillia and Antonius remain hot on the trail of whatever – or whoever – is causing the civilization’s elite to fall into a deadly illness. As gods and monsters stalk the pair both inside and outside of the gladiatorial arena, Rome’s greatest detective and its rising gladiator must separate the hauntings from hoaxes in a blood-boiling search for the truth. But will Achillia and Antonius solve the mystery and and prove Rubria’s innocence in time, or will Nero’s swift vengeance strike first?

Explore the Valiant Universe in Divinity #0 – AN EPIC JUMPING-ON POINT Coming in August!

Valiant has announced Divinity #0 – AN EPIC JUMPING-ON POINT leading Abram Adams, the supremely powerful being known as Divinity, through the whole of the Valiant Universe! On August 16th, writer Matt Kindt and explosive artist Renato Guedes present an awe-inspiring introduction to the largest independent superhero universe in comics – as told through the eyes of Valiant’s most powerful cosmic force!

Divinity, a lost Russian cosmonaut newly arrived to Earth with god-like powers, has successfully restored the world to order after the reality-altering event known as the Stalinverse. But how can a man – even one with near-divine abilities – know for certain that the planet has been truly restored in full? To make sure, Divinity must bear witness to the world as it now stands – heroes, villains, gods, and all – to ensure the rightful order of the Valiant Universe!

From Bloodshot to Faith to Ninjak to X-O Manowar and dozens of surprise guest stars, traverse the world of Valiant’s most enduring icons as Divinity guides a standalone entry point into the most acclaimed publishing line in comics today!

Featuring covers by incendiary artist Juan Jose Ryp, Eisner Award nominee Ibrahim Moustafa, pulse-pounding artist Clayton Henry, legendary cartoonist Peter Bagge, and comics superstar Kano!

Plus: This October, Valiant unveils a universe of new worlds, new beings, and new myths in Eternity #1 – a VISIONARY NEW SERIES from the minds of writer Matt Kindt and blockbuster artist Trevor Hairsine! The next evolution of Valiant’s acclaimed Divinity saga starts here with an expedition into the Unknown. Beyond time… Beyond space… Beyond reality itself… Eternity awaits!

Review: Britannia: We Who Are About To Die #1

BRITANNIA2_001_COVER-A_NORDFifty thousand Romans stand on their feet, watching from the rafters of the coliseum with captured breath as Achillia, a gladiator unlike any that Rome has seen before, faces incredible odds – one lone warrior against five of Rome’s greatest. Such is the tradition, when a female gladiator enters the fray. When the carnage is complete, the coliseum roars its approval as Achillia stands victorious. Now, only one match away from winning her freedom, she has begun to gain renown. The women of Rome, suppressed by their husbands and fathers, have noticed. The men of Rome, husbands and fathers to a growing horde of women entertaining ideas of independence, have noticed as well.

On the other side of Rome, a strange mystery swirls through the Palatine Hill. In the dead of night, down winding alleys, Rome’s elite swear that they see visions of a blood-soaked Apollo walking the city…visions that are driving them mad. Even more are becoming sick with weird fever god-dreams. Panic ensues in the city. The Chief Vestal, Rubria, is arrested by Emperor Nero and threatened with crucifixion unless the deadly curse that’s fallen on Rome is lifted. She asks Antonius Axia, hero of Britannia and Rome’s only detective, for help. She offers only one clue…the gladiator Achillia.

The first Britannia series received some mixed feelings from those who read it; some, like myself, thoroughly enjoyed it while others felt that it was at best a good set up for the next story, and not a truly self-contained arc in and of itself. While I can understand where that line of thinking comes from, it didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the first four issues in any way, and I’ve been looking forward to the beginning of the sequel since it was announced.

So does the first issue of We Who Are About To Die take a step forward from the first volume, or a step back?

I’m quite happy to say that not only does it take a good step forward, but if you’ve read the previous series then you’ll have an inkling of what to expect thematically; this isn’t a strictly historical story, as evidenced by the demons appearing last series. The first issue of We Who Are About To Die kicks off a few months after the events of the previous miniseries with another a particularly gruesome scene that will inevitably draw Antonius Axa, the Detectioner, into a web of lies and intrigue – and possibly more demonic influence – this issue reads more like a true crime story set around two thousand years ago than it does anything else.

Although Peter Milligan delivers a really solid story, the highlight of the comic for me is the art of Juan Jose Ryp. His hyper-detailed style fits the period, effortlessly captures the Roman citizens in the civilized brutality that we often associate with the time period (and especially the Colosseum), but the way in which Ryp captures Nero’s facial expressions hints toward a level of madness and paranoia not seen before in the series. As good as Miligan’s story and Ryp’s art are separately, the combination of the two elevates this into a must buy comic, whether you’ve read the first volume or not.

I can’t wait for the second issue.

Story: Peter Milligan  Artist: Juan Jose Ryp Colourist: Frankie D’Armata
Story: 8.25 Art: 9 Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy a FREE copy for review, I will be purchasing this comic on my next visit to my LCS.

Preview: Britannia: We Who Are About to Die #1 (of 4)

BRITANNIA: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE #1 (of 4)

Written by PETER MILLIGAN
Art by JUAN JOSÉ RYP
Cover A by CARY NORD (FEB172054)
Cover B by DAVID MACK (FEB172055)
Character Design Variant by DAVID MACK (FEB172057)
Variant Cover by ADAM GORHAM (FEB172058)
Variant Cover by DAVE JOHNSON (FEB172059)
Blank Cover Also Available (FEB172056)
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | VALIANT PRESTIGE | On Sale APRIL 26 (FOC – 4/3/17)

Valiant’s critically acclaimed, 10-time sold-out magnum opus returns with a brand-new journey into myth and mystery, from comics master Peter Milligan (Shade, The Changing Man) and incendiary artist Juan José Ryp (BRITANNIA)!

Fifty thousand Romans stand on their feet, watching from the rafters of the coliseum with captured breath as Achillia, a gladiator unlike any that Rome has seen before, faces incredible odds – one lone warrior against five of Rome’s greatest. Such is the tradition, when a female gladiator enters the fray. When the carnage is complete, the coliseum roars its approval as Achillia stands victorious. Now, only one match away from winning her freedom, she has begun to gain renown. The women of Rome, suppressed by their husbands and fathers, have noticed. The men of Rome, husbands and fathers to a growing horde of women entertaining ideas of independence, have noticed as well.

On the other side of Rome, a strange mystery swirls through the Palatine Hill. In the dead of night, down winding alleys, Rome’s elite swear that they see visions of a blood-soaked Apollo walking the city…visions that are driving them mad. Even more are becoming sick with weird fever god-dreams. Panic ensues in the city. The Chief Vestal, Rubria, is arrested by Emperor Nero and threatened with crucifixion unless the deadly curse that’s fallen on Rome is lifted. She asks Antonius Axia, hero of Britannia and Rome’s only detective, for help. She offers only one clue…the gladiator Achillia.

Preview: Ninjak #26

NINJAK #26

Written by MATT KINDT
Art by STEPHEN SEGOVIA
Cover A by RYAN BODENHEIM (FEB172068)
Cover B by JUAN JOSÉ RYP (FEB172069)
Cover C by ROBERT GILL (FEB172070)
Variant Cover by BOB LAYTON (FEB172071)
Variant Cover by TULA LOTAY (FEB172072)
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On Sale APRIL 19 (FOC – 3/27/17)

Battle royale!

The moment you’ve been waiting for is here—the final, steel-splintering showdown between Ninjak and Master Darque! But when Valiant’s top assassin and lord of death come to blows, you can bet there’s going to be serious collateral. What will become of the deadly crime cartel known as the Shadow Seven? What final fate awaits the life of Ninjak’s former lover and most hated enemy, Roku? All will be revealed as Ninjak enters a blistering barrage of revelations and revenge…and exits with a brand-new place in the Valiant Universe!

Blood Sacrifice Meets Bloodsport in Britannia: We Who are About To Die #1 – On Sale April 26th!

Valiant has revealed the first lettered look inside Britannia: We Who are About To Die #1 (of 4) – the FIRST ISSUE of a haunting and hallucinatory new investigation for the ancient world’s first detective, beginning on April 26th! This spring, the master creators behind Britannia’s ten-time sold-out debut – comics legend Peter Milligan and upstart artist Juan Jose Ryp – reunite for a startling new case bringing the god Apollo from the heights of Mount Olympus to the sordid back alleys of Rome as Nero’s most trusted “detectioner,” Antonius Axia, investigates a series of bizarre, supernatural happenings connecting the blood sacrifice of the pagan temple to the bloodsport of the gladiatorial arena!

Fifty thousand Romans stand on their feet, watching from the rafters of the Coliseum with captured breath as Achillia, a gladiator unlike any that Rome has seen before, faces incredible odds – one lone warrior against five of Rome’s greatest. Such is the tradition, when a female gladiator enters the fray. When the carnage is complete, the coliseum roars its approval as Achillia stands victorious. Now, only one match away from winning her freedom, she has begun to gain renown. The women of Rome, suppressed by their husbands and fathers, have noticed. The men of Rome, husbands and fathers to a growing horde of women entertaining ideas of independence, have noticed as well.

On the other side of Rome, a strange mystery swirls through the Palatine Hill. In the dead of night, down winding alleys, Rome’s elite swear that they see visions of a blood-soaked Apollo walking the city…visions that are driving them mad. Even more are becoming sick with weird fever god-dreams. Panic ensues in the city. The Chief Vestal, Rubria, is arrested by Emperor Nero and threatened with crucifixion unless the deadly curse that’s fallen on Rome is lifted. She asks Antonius Axia, hero of Britannia and Rome’s only detective, for help. She offers only one clue…the gladiator Achillia.

Featuring covers by Eisner Award winner Cary Nord, Eisner Award nominee David Mack, rising star Adam Gorham, and Eisner Award winner Dave Johnson, jump on board here on April 26th with a breathtaking introduction to Milligan & Ryp’s ten-time sold-out vision of myth and mystery!

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