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Advance Review: Romulus #1

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By Bryan Hill and Nelson Blake II

The new series from Image, Romulus #1, is built on the foundation of conspiracy, clandestine organizations and unseen forces of evil bent on world domination and/or destruction. It’s also a generational story about legacy and living up to previously established standards, something that’s almost never as easy as one would hope. Beyond that the story focuses on the decisions made when falling short of those standards and how a combination of improvisation, willpower and training can equal a more desirable outcome. Confused? Don’t worry, this is a pleasantly user-friendly book and does more to inform than not.

It’s refreshing when a first issue communicates everything you need to know without going heavy on the text. Romulus does as much with the art as the dialogue and narration in order to fill us in while keeping us engaged. And, although you get the sense there’s a lot more to this story, almost nothing is held back in issue #1. Thanks to the accuracy of Hill’s pacing, we get so much information here that there’s almost no mystery left, while it’s clear there’s definitely more to come. This was a fantastic first issue of what might just be great series.

Writer Bryan Hill (Postal) delivers a nice contrast in the main character’s dialogue. The odds are stacked against our hero and we learn about all of her self-doubt through inner monologue, which adds to the overall narration. She thinks one thing and says another, making it easy for us to get to know her. We get backstory while learning the protagonist’s personal history, but the best part is how she presents herself to the enemy. It’s something we can all relate to and a real treat when writers allow us to get in on the secret, because don’t we all have moments when we act tougher than we feel? Thing is — and this is what makes Romulus so fun — outside of comics, we obviously aren’t personally facing off against elite soldiers of centuries old secret societies. That’s, thankfully, the stuff of comic books, and in this case we’re given a more willing subject instead of the usual reluctant hero, which makes it that much easier to live vicariously through their actions. Essentially, there’s a purpose to everything that’s going on here in both moving the story forward and keeping readers entertained.

And for all of the character and plot development in this first issue, it’s pure action from cover to cover! Kicking, punching, swords, knives and guns all come into play and artist Nelson Blake II (Witchblade) expertly illustrates each sequence for maximum drama. Of all the fight scenes, there’s never a moment when circumstances allowed for an easy win. It’s one thing to draw action and a bunch of guys fighting it out, but it takes a pro to inject real consequences and dilemma while the battle is underway. Blake knows when to hold the reader at a distance, and when to bring us in close, and each of those moments has equal gravity to them while letting us know exactly what a particular situation’s magnitude may be.

This book really is about facing grim circumstances and making selfless, yet honorable decisions. But it’s also packed full of the things that comics fans love. You won’t be disappointed with this first issue and you’ll surely want to read more. Bryan Hill and Nelson Blake II are making an exciting book that is nothing short of cool.

Romulus #1 will be released October 5th from Image Comics/Top Cow Productions

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