(w) Peter Milligan (a) Robert Gill (c) Diego Rodriguez
Continuing the story of his Roman Legionnaire turned Sherlock Holmes, Peter Milligan’s series returns with Britannia: Eagles of Rome #1. This first issue was described in its solicitation as being a “BLOODSTAINED JUMPING-ON POINT”, allowing it to be easily picked up by new readers to the series. The first issue actually starts with a helpful recap of the events of the first two books and how the protagonist Antonius Axia becomes the world’s first detective in ancient Rome, which makes the newest entry in the series very friendly to new readers.
Set during the same time period as the two other books, Lost Eagles of Rome kicks off with an action packed fight scene drawn by Robert Gill, which finds Roman Legionaries up against Germanic tribes in the darkened woods of Tottenwald. After his trusted Legionnaires are wiped out, Emperor Nero calls upon Antonius to use his detective skills to uncover the lost golden eagles that were carried into battle by the Romans, which were captured by the barbarian horde. Joining Antonius on this mission is the warrior Achillia, who will no doubt prove to be an invaluable companion as the story progresses as she continues to prove her mettle in combat.
One of the most memorable aspects of this issue is how Milligan and his team are able to include historic details in the narrative and art. The main issue that is introduced in this first chapter is the fact that the golden eagles that was carried by the Legionaries in battle were lost. Through exposition Antonius’ own thoughts, and dialogue, the reader learns historic facts that they may not have known before, such as how important these golden eagles were to not only the Emperor’s reputation, but also the entire city of Rome.
Although this is just the first issue of a new story arc, the detective skills of Antonius keep the reader interested in his character, despite his arguably forgettable appearance. With the setting of the story taking place in a time where the strongest individuals thrive, it’s refreshing to see a logical character such as Antonius shine by using these skills, oftentimes to the surprise of those around him.
Gill’s art shines throughout this first issue, with the backgrounds and detail of the clothing worn by the characters going above and beyond. The bright, earthy colors used in the panels that take place in Rome contrast nicely to those that are used in the first few panels showing the battle in Tottenwald, which largely consist of dark tones of blue, green, and other subdued palettes. Even during panels that have a lot of action or involve characters in motion, the art does not suffer. Movement can clearly be noticed and understood.
Britannia: Eagles of Rome #1 starts off strong, and offers plenty of potential and offers the reader an interesting story with a strong cast of characters that can be picked up by just about anyone with an interest in ancient history. It will be exciting to see where Milligan and the rest of his creative team take their characters and story next!