Looking for the lost Eagles, Antonius Axia is in Alexandra investigating General Verres, the one who lost them. The trail leads to his scout, Ignatius, who seems to be on close terms with the man who calls himself Pharaoh and claims to be the reincarnation of Ramesses Twelve. These cannot merely be coincidences!
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Robert Gill
Colorist: José Villarrubia
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Publisher: Valliant Entertainment LLC
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: September 19, 2018
Previously in Britannia: Lost Eagles of Rome: Antonius Axia decided not to go to Germany, but rather to Alexandria. Wandering freely on the streets is a man who claims to be a reincarnated Pharaoh – but the Romans take virtually no notice. However, they do attack the Jewish quarter of town with the excuse that the Jews are planning a rebellion – which they are not. Verres, now Governor here, lies about the events surrounding the Eagles, and it turns out that he is on close terms with the Pharaoh.
LOOKS LIKE WE’VE GOT SOME POLITICAL INTRIGUE HERE
Britannia: Lost Eagles of Rome #3 starts out with Rubria, Chief of the Vestal Virgins, gazing into the sacred fire and feeling she can almost see Antonius Axia. Then we see him, in the Library which is ablaze, struggling to get through the smoke. As he collapses, he sees a vision of Rubria who gives him a clue. Then that vision fades, to be replaced with Achillia, the gladiatrix who accompanied him on this mission. Axia regains his breath and asks the librarian a question – who else was interested in the scrolls about Ramesses Twelve? It turns out this was Verres’ chief scout, Ignatius.
Threads are starting to intertwine. Why might an expert scout stumble into a trap? What if this was prearranged by General Verres? What’s in it for him? Back in Rome, we may get a hint. Nero is throwing a party, but his secretary tells him that his popularity among the plebs is sinking. But he brushes this off – why should he worry? He sent the famous detectioner after them. And sent assassins after him, with orders to come home with him or the Eagles. It’s good to be the Emperor.
Back in Alexandria, Verres entertains the assassins, and offers them a deal – dispatch the detectioner and gladiatrix, and he will reward them greatly, in his new Rome. (Ah! The General is an ambitious one!) At the same time, Antonius and Achillia visit the taverns looking for word of any of Verres’ scouts. While soldiers generally like to talk, these ones don’t. They also have a lot of money for gambling, Antonius observes before he gets thrown out. His questions, however, lead to someone they can follow.
At Ignatius’ villa, he has a guest – the Pharaoh, who is demonstrating his ability to give people boils. Ignatius doesn’t understand why he is working with Verres. But as it turns out, Verres has promised, once he’s in power, to make Ramesses Pharaoh of Egypt. About this time, Antonius and Achillia have but a few minutes to observe before they are set upon by the assassins. This fight is not so easy for the two of them, but Achillia, with her training, thinks she spots a weakness in their technique. Indeed she has, and Antonius kills one before the others run away.
On a hunch, Antonius next goes to Ramesses’ villa, well outside the city. They stun a guard and sneak in, startling a priest who warns them that the vaults are all cursed. Antonius orders that he take them to the vault with the worst curse and open it. A swarm of bugs, like locusts, come flying out and go past, but within moments, Achillia and Antonius are covered in large boils.
FIRE, SMOKE, AND ASH
The art of Britannia: Lost Eagles of Rome #3 is just gorgeous. From big scenes to small, from Rome to Alexandria, from rough tavern to fancy villa, everything is lovely to look at. The library, even though it is full of smoke, has nice touches of architectural detail. The villas of Ignatius and Ramesses are distinctly very different from each other, right down to the trees growing around them. The interiors of the taverns are solid and people with tough men. Verres’ palace is elegant and spacious. The details just feel right.
Again, the characters are also distinctive and well-drawn. There are a lot of draping clothes – loose tunics, cloaks, and the like – and they all look good. This is a teen-rated book, and they’ve managed to communicate that Nero’s party is probably an orgy without being overly graphic. The same goes for the people he is burning at the stake during his party. (Nero was not known for being a particularly nice guy as Emperor.) There is a nice variety of panels in play, and I like that during the big fight scene, we get a lot of sharply angled ones. Not only does it fit the scenes, but it gives the fight a good dynamic flavor.
BOTTOM LINE: AN INTERESTING MYSTERY BEAUTIFULLY ILLUSTRATED
We’re getting close to the end of the story in Britannia: Lost Eagles of Rome #3, and things are starting to come together. This is a somewhat wordy book, both because there is a fair amount to explain about the setting and because this is a mystery and we like to see how the detective – or detectioner – puts clues together. The time period is fascinating, and the storytelling is nice and tight.