Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Swords of Rome Vol. 1: The Conquerors

Written by Jean Dufaux
Art by Philippe Delaby

Ancient Rome has long held a fascination for me, but not to the extent that I've ever made a concerted effort to study it.  Instead, I've just sort of gleaned my knowledge from TV shows like Rome, movies like Spartacus(the TV show of the same name doesn't interest me), or comics like David Lapham's Caligula.  Therefore, my knowledge base is especially specious, but I don't really care - stories set in this time are usually pretty interesting.  It is in that spirit that I picked up the first volume of Swords of Rome, a French comic published in North America by ibooks, the same people who published Don Lomax's Vietnam Journal(at least at the beginning).

Swords of Rome tells the story of the assassination of Emperor Nero, and his succession by Nero, his adopted son.  The change of power has been orchestrated by Claudius's wife, Agrippina, who he had planned to divorce.  We've seen all of this before - the intrigue, the alliances between different nobles and power-hungry slaves.  I don't want to say that it doesn't work here, because this is a decent read, but it doesn't stand out.  I frequently found it difficult to remember which character was which (especially among the women), and found the plot a little predictable (and yes, I know it's based on historical events).

Artwise, this book is as lovely as most French comics.  Delaby's faces are expressive (if rather similar), and he has a good handle on period details.  I often found the colouring in the book to be strange - some pages look like they've been purposefully grayed, and so I'd assume we were looking at a nighttime scene, but then the next page would be bright and colourful, while still showing the same scene.  Also, it looks like the people at ibooks edited out some of the nudity in this comic - that doesn't really bother me, but it's kind of strange.

No comments: