This week, Ashlar must finally do what every conspiracy theorist secretly wishes they could: Join the Illuminati.
Unlike most of humanity, however, her desire the world’s most infamous secret society isn’t selfish—it’s the only way she has any chance of saving Nicholas from The Order of Romulus.
Romulus #3 (Image Comics)
- “That calm certainty thing you do? That’s why I want to slap you.”
- The above quote is one of many reasons I’m starting to love Ashlar.
- Dang. Greenland looks like a more interesting place to visit than I thought.
- Kind of weird seeing the Illuminati portrayed as good guys, but comparing them to the Order of Romulus makes it much easier to stomach.
- Young Liam Neeson is kicking Ashlar’s ass, both physically and psychologically.
- Love watching Nicholas shoot down deals from the devil (although the last part of the pitch was pretty convincing).
- That’s a disappointing choice…and a completely realistic reaction.
If you were worried that Ashlar would end up being all sharp edges with minimal empathy, then this issue should assuage those concerns. Her time with the Illuminati provides a surprisingly poignant revelation of what’s driving her. Thankfully, writer Bryan Hill refrains from giving the character a cheesy 180-degree attitude adjustment. Just because Ashlar is more aware of her inner weaknesses (and actively trying to work through them) doesn’t mean she’s going to suddenly stop being a wolf.
The issue also provides a nice framework/explanation for how two shadowy organizations like the Illuminati and the Order of Romulus can be at war over not just power, but philosophy, as well. We also get an explanation for why Achilles didn’t kill Ashlar when he had the chance.
Perhaps my favorite part of the issue (besides Blake Nelson’s fantastic one-on-one combat sequences) was watching Nicholas go toe-to-toe with the Romulus envoy. She may have been holding all the cards, but he’s always going to be the smartest (and funniest) person in the room. He’s also a good person with normal human failings, which puts him at a disadvantage—and makes the entire negotiation/argument exceptionally intriguing.
On the art side of things, Blake Nelson continues to impress. In addition to the aforementioned action sequences, he can also portray subtle changes in the characters’ moods and expressions, which greatly enhances the script in ways that words simply could not.
As good as Romulus #3 is, I did have a couple issues with it. There’s some Empire Strikes Back-esque compression with regards to Ashlar’s Illuminati training, which was probably for the best story-wise, but still tripped up the narrative’s flow a bit. I also wish we’d gotten a bit more time with Sozo—or at least some idea of what we saw her doing back in Los Angeles. I trust Hill to connect things in a satisfying manner (like the Achilles mystery from last month), but in the context of a single issue, the scene feels out of place with everything else.
But aside from those minor quibbles, Romulus’ third chapter is more than enough to solidify the title for top-of-the-read-pile status. While I’m not quite ready to call it as good as Hill’s brilliant Postal series, that seeds for that level of excellent storytelling have definitely been sown inside their tinfoil planters.