Britannia: We Who Are About to Die #1-4
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Juan José Ryp with Ryan Lee and Roberto De La Torre
Colourist: Frankie D’Armata
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
A review by Josh Rose
“My name is Antonius Axia, and I am Rome’s only detectioner.”
Britannia: We Who Are About to Die #4 is the last issue in this series and we finally see how the curse was brought down on Rome. We see Antonius save his son, Avitus, from the god Apollo, we see Achilla reunite with the woman who raised her, and we see Nero happy. That’s scary in itself. And it all comes with a fantastic plot twist too.
As I reread Britannia: We Who Are About to Die, I am struck at how much foreshadowing Peter Milligan planted in issue 1, by the growth of Avitus and Achilla’s characters, the theme of fathers and sons, feminism, and how familiar politics in this story look in comparison to today’s. I look at how disconnected the deaths of the roman youths were to Achilla and Rome’s feminism, but now I see the common thread that tie them together: Senator Craxus (I really should’ve seen that one sooner). By rereading I can appreciate even more, just how complex this story is.
Juan José Ryp’s art is perfect for Britannia: We Who Are About to Die. Its gory, (perfect for a story involving a gladiator,) full of violence, action, and terrifying gods. Frankie D’Armata’s colours are beautiful as they make gods look powerful and horrifying at the same time. His colours set the tone and atmosphere of each scene. They go perfect with the location, whether it be mossy caves, marble temples, sunny villas, or dark alley ways. You can always count on red to be present when the characters are upset or fighting for their lives. Ryan Lee and Roberto De La Torre also contribute a beautiful flashback scene in Britannia: We Who Are About to Die #4.
And as always I’m a fan of the lectures that follow each issue. We’ve learned about the different types of gladiators, the history of the gladiator matches, and about women in Roman society. Britannia: We Who Are About to Die #4 provides a more overall lesson concerning roman gladiators, reiterating some of what we learned about the different types and history of the gladiators. It also tells a story about Christianity and the gladiator matches, mentions two female gladiators Amazon and Achilla, and talks about some classic films featuring gladiators.
Buy it! Britannia: We Who Are About to Die is a wonderful mystery complete with roman gods, a strong female gladiator, an evil sorceress, and plenty blood and gore. Achilla is a wonderful, strong female character that I want to see again soon. I hope next time we see these characters Antonius Axia is not Rome’s only detectioner.