By Peter Milligan, Juan Jose Ryp, Jordie Bellaire
Antonius Axia returns with a second serving of the mysterious and grisly in Britannia #2.
As we learned in the first issue of Britannia, Antonius Axia was a centurion and a hero of Rome when he risked everything to save a kidnapped Vestal from demon worshippers. While he was successful, the encounter with the mysterious demon left him broken. The Vestals restored his health and his mind, and along the way, allowed him to read their sacred texts which explained the behaviors of man – the origins of psychology.
Armed with this knowledge, Axia became an investigator – the world’s first detective. He makes a name for himself and more than a few enemies, but things take an even darker turn as he is tasked by Nero to investigate the “devil” plaguing Britannia, Rome’s furthermost post.
There is where our story picks up. After arriving in Britannia, Axia discovers more than the monstrous actions of men. He stumbles onto something larger and more evil. Determining how much is due to devils or the evil of man remains to be seen and might be intertwined.
Writer Peter Milligan presents us with a riveting tale that offers the thrills of the art of detection and the chills of horror. We are halfway through this psychological adventure miniseries, and Milligan is playing the cards close to his chest. While we learn more about the activities of the Vestals and of Britannia itself, many questions are left unanswered. This is more than a classic who-done-it tale; it incorporates magic. Magic that may have a link to the larger Valiant Universe.
Axia’s immediate concern is what is the devil that is beleaguering the outpost, and how do they rid themselves of it. A better question might be why – and who. Milligan expands the number of players in this chapter, bringing new possibilities or false herrings to those questions. The game is afoot, and if you enjoy a mystery, this book is for you.
Artist Juan Jose Ryp immerses the reader in the atmosphere of the story. You can feel the muck and blood upon you in the wilds of Britannia and imagine the cloying scent of Nero’s bubbles in his lavish bath. Rotting teeth, sweat, mangy fur, and soft skin shoes – Ryp skimps on nothing, making the scenes believable and solid. This effect is aided by the talents of colorist Jordie Bellaire, who grounds the story with earthy tones. Her colors set the mood for the scenes – from the bright airy colors of Rome to the murky fog of Britannia. This team of artists makes you feel that you are down in it instead of observing from afar. Ryp’s characters are as demonstrative as live actors. Their suggestive expressions and body language lend meaning to the scenes. As interesting as this story is – and it is a well-written thrill, the deeper engagement of the reader is due to the excellence of the art.
Britannia #2 is a chilling read that will keep readers riveted. The unique story coupled with the striking art make for an addictive miniseries. Pick this one up right away before it sells out – the first issue is already on its third printing.