You know those people who make weird Youtube videos about how the world is actually run by a secret cabal of powerful people who may or may not be supernaturally enhanced?
What if they were right?
Continuing down that same crazy rabbit hole, what if someone from the aforementioned secret cabal went rogue and decided to kick their former masters’ asses, all in the name of saving the rest of us from the cabal’s oppressive/genocidal influence? Pretty cool, right?
Well, put a fantastic creative team on that story—like Bryan Edward Hill (w) and Nelson Blake II (a)—and you get Romulus, a book that has been in my sights (and on my pull list) for quite some time now. I may not be a full-fledged member of the tinfoil hat club, but I’ve always been fascinated by the possibility (probability?) that our world is controlled by human forces beyond our knowledge or understanding.
I’m also a HUGE fan of Hill’s work on Postal and love what I’ve seen from Blake. If anyone can take a well-worn premise like this one and mine it for something new and different, it’s them.
Romulus #1 doesn’t hit the stands until October 5, but Adventures in Poor Taste was lucky enough to score an advance review copy…and reckless enough to give it to me.
Is it good?
Romulus #1 (Image Comics)
- 9 panels + 1 amazing splash page = Origin story covered.
- Now we get to the weird stuff. Gotta love dark historical fiction.
- Molestra is now my second favorite fake prescription drug name (Trybonin is still the best, though).
- Ashlar: Funny name, but I wouldn’t have the guts to say anything to her face besides “yes ma’am”.
- Ah, the old scientist assassination trope…
- …or not. This Romulus group is even smarter/more evil than I was prepared to give them credit for.
- Also, I now officially trust Ashlar to save us all—or at least look like a total badass while she tries.
Is It Good?
There were a few pages in the beginning where things got a little navel-gazey, but Hill quickly rights the narrative ship via a truly fantastic main character. He also sets the series up with an impressively efficient yet rich backstory. There’s still plenty of stuff in the past to explore, but the reader is given everything they need to understand Ashlar’s history and why we should be rooting for her (besides the obvious ‘saving 99.9% of the world’s population’ thing).
Another thing working in Ashlar’s favor is that she isn’t just female version of James Bond crossed with the Terminator. Hill imbues her with a great deal of humanity along with a fiery disposition that’s impossible not to like. While the other characters she encounters see her as a supremely confident force of nature, the reader is allowed a glimpse inside the anger, sadness, and anxiety that both fuels and hampers her mission.
On the art side of things, Blake’s work is great, particularly how he handles motion. If the action on the page moved any better, it would be a movie. My only quibble is with the color of the blood. I know that sounds like a minor thing, but there’s a lot of hemoglobin that gets splashed around the book, almost all of which is jarringly bright. It looks like Mountain Dew: Code Red leaking from all the corpses.
But like I said—minor quibble. If Blake’s beautiful line work and expressive faces somehow don’t win you over, then the action on pages 17-19 will. Seriously, the Marvel fanboy in me needs to see this guy draw Spider-Man as soon as possible.
Right now, however, I’m perfectly happy with him drawing Romulus. When you combine Blake’s work with Hill’s track record for building great characters within rich/complex mythologies, then putting this one on your pull list should be a no brainer.
Wake up, sheeple. Ashlar is going to save you from a death you didn’t even know was coming—or at least lead you on a bloody good quest for answers you may not want to know.