Britannia: We Who Are About to Die #3
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Juan Jose’ Ryp
Colors: Frankie D’Armata
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Review by PeteR
“During Nero’s reign in Rome, Antonio Axia rose to fame as hero at the battle of Tigranocerta, saving the lives of fellow Legionnaires. Brave, loyal – all that a soldier should be – he was called by the Vestal Virgins to become the World’s first Detectioner.”
Britannia: Those Who Are About to Die is the second series of the adventures of Antonio Axia. This series begins with Antonio investigating the disappearances of various young men from the patrician (upper class) society. Rumors of a cult lead Axia and his (not really) slave, Bran, to the temple of Apollo where he finds the savagely mauled bodies of the three young nobles. The statue of Apollo, glaring at Antonio decrees “Like sacrificial bulls they came…like sacrificial bulls, were slain.” Axia, by his exposure to the Codex has learned that the gods don’t speak, and most of the troubles on Earth are caused by mankind. Since Antonio is the only person who hears the statue speak, he is having some concerns about his own sanity.
Emperor Nero and much of the populace of Rome are becoming convinced that the Gods are angry with them. To make matters worse a female gladiator named Achillia is defeating all opponents and becoming a rallying force for the women of Rome to believe they are equals and defy the authority of the men. Five years earlier, Achillia was formerly a slave of the noble Gaius Oppius. When Oppius attempted to rape her, in front of his friend and fellow noble, Craxus, she slit his throat. Achillia was sentenced to die in the gladiator games but much to everyone’s surprise, she was superior to all opponents. Now she is only one contest away from earning her freedom. Neither Emperor Nero of Craxus are happy with this and plot to have her killed. If Antonio Axia just happens to die as well, so much the better. Another ex-slave of Gaius Oppius is Elissa. She is Achillia’s only friend and is acting as an unofficial priestess to scorned and abused women.
In Britannia: We Who Are About to Die #3 writer Peter Milligan has Antonio and Achillia standing back to back in the Colosseum, staring down the Praetorian Guard as Nero sentences them to death. Avitas, Antonio’s son, under the thrall of Elissa is proceeding towards one of the temples of Apollo, where so many of his peers have mysteriously been killed.
Antonio and Achillia are able to survive the Arena but Antonio is being driven mad at the thought of his son dying. He learns that Elissa is using a rare and mysterious herb to usurp the minds of young men in her quest for revenge against the men of Rome. Antonio knowledge about the plant is not necessarily going to help him as he squares off against a blood soaked and enraged statue of Apollo.
The artwork for Britannia: We Who Are About to Die #3 continues to be crafted by Spanish artist Juan Jose’ Ryp. His skill at depicting ancient Rome is everything one imagines it would be. The action in galvanizing a ferocious.
Frankie D’Armata does the coloring for Britannia: We Who Are About to Die #3. Among of things, he is credited for providing the color for more than fifty issues of both the Captain America and Iron Man titles for Marvel. His use of hues is terrific in Britannia. Look particularly at how he shades the walls inside the various temples and buildings.
Letterist Dave Sharpe is a graduate of the Kubert School of Art and has been working in the comic book industry more than twenty years. He has provided the calligraphy for everything from Avengers through X-O Man of War.
Why you should buy this book? I am enjoying Britannia: We Who Are About to Die immensely. It’s a mix of Sherlock Homes, I, Claudius and Kolchak, the Night Stalker. It has conspiracies, murder, angry gods and political upheaval. Britannia: We Who Are About to Die #3 deftly continues the saga of Antonio Axia, as he walks a tightrope between insane emperors and a city that could break out into riot at any moment.
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