Debuting originally in 2012, the 2000 AD comic makes its stateside début on 25 March. It is the story of a former gladiator – and comrade of Spartacus – turned immortal avenger. The details of the transition are brutal, supernatural, and actually, pretty awesome.
The five-issue run takes place during the Roman occupation of Britannia and focuses on the Iceni (Celtic) tribes that fought the Legion during that period. Like many of the other books that 2000 AD publishes, there is absolutely no lack of violence. There are lulls in the action throughout the book, however, where further details and character motivations are explored, but you know these brief intermissions are calms before more skull-cracking storms.
Aquila feels like a mix of a character; part Lamont Cranston, part Frank Castle, and completely badass for the duration of the comic. He is a consistent outsider, both in ability and appearance, but never broods over his fate; he moves with a singular focus and never wavers in his pursuits.
The book displays a nice mix of historical fact and imaginative ambition; the idea that Rome was largely a multi-ethnic empire is nicely demonstrated not only in the character of Aquila, but in the people, both allies and enemies, with which he comes into contact. The historical events, and personalities, however controversial, that Rennie adds to his script give the story a fullness that it would otherwise lack.
Gallagher’s artwork, while a little short of stunning, is quite impressive and expresses the vicious tendencies in the book well. Limbs fly and blood spurts with reckless abandon and every other panel is a vivid depiction of savagery. There is never a sense of violence for violence’s sake, rather, every use of force, however visually extreme, serves the purpose of either further establishing Aquila’s fierce nature or the relative harshness of the age that the story exists within.
The issue ends on a cliffhanger, one the should whet the appetite enough for most to come back for at least one more spin.
This is a mature story, so keep the kids away until at least their late teens, but enjoy yourself otherwise as Aquila continues his quest to sate the hunger of the Devourer.