Comics are wonderful things. Free stuff is also wonderful. Free comics… That is just bliss. Welcome to another installment of Free Comics Now! reviews. This week, I’m happy to say I’ll be reading an issue written, and illustrated, by Jonathan Hickman, one of my all-time favorite comic writers. I think I may have mentioned that once or twice.
We are looking today at Pax Romana, a four issue series put out by Image and available at Comixology. If you don’t have their free app, just go get it now. It’s well worth the $0 you’d pay for it.
It just dives right into it. The first couple pages introduce us to a new world, seemingly futuristic, in which there is an almighty pope and a king of the world that appears to be a small boy. Like a lot of Hickman’s work, this is wordy. But the added narrations help to flesh out some of the details about this world that the pictures might not tell us. There are blurbs put in from “The Secret Vatican Archives” that explain where the Gene Pope came from and tell us more about this boy-king. Apparently there is also a “King of Africa,” but I don’t see him yet.
The Gene Pope tells the boy, who only recently came into his throne, a story, that takes us back to 2053, where time travel has been discovered. In this story, we are given a look inside a meeting of Church leaders, who discuss the possibilities and the ramifications that time travel could present. It is here that the adjective “wordy” really applies. There are a couple pages of texts, which read as a recording of that meeting. It’s obvious that Hickman has a story he wants to tell, and is more comfortable using words than pictures. I’m not sure how I really feel about that, but it isn’t the first time I’ve seen it in his work, as he did so in an issue or 2 of S.H.I.E.L.D. as well.
It is finally agreed upon that they will use the technology to try and bring the Church into the power they feel it should be. They handpick people from around the globe to do this. There is a man named Nicholas, who has one eye. He is a military genius, and believes that he is a man who can change the world. Sounds familiar? It should. He is the leader of those who travel back to the times of Constantine. They carry with them technology and gold, and orders to reinforce and support Rome and the Church so that they will survive the battles they know are coming. What will that team do? It’s hard to say, as the ending of this issue seems to be the beginning of the larger story. Captivating read.
Now, as far as the art goes… I love it. It’s very different from other comics. The figures are all well thought out and realistic looking people portrayed with black lines. They stand out against backgrounds that are not scenes. Rather, the backgrounds are a myriad of colors and designs, that give the comic an otherworldly or sci-fi feel. Most of the backdrops appear to be night skies, filled with stars. Again, I just love it.
All in all, I’d give this comic a very high rating. Yes, it is a of heavy reading, but it’s worth the time. It’s a fun concept, great artwork, and grabbed ahold of me tightly. I want to read more of this, and will look at picking up the trade paperback over the summer. Read this book!