As part of getting into more comics beyond those published by Marvel and DC Comics I’m diving into other genres that creative teams tackle through the comic book medium. Which is why Image Comics’ Dead Romans series by Fred Kennedy and Nick Marinkovich caught my eye. While I know the general Roman Empire stories I’ve never fully dove into them. To be honest most what I know in terms of style of storytelling are from movies and shows like 300 and HBO’s Rome. But that is what intrigues me about Dead Romans. I want to see what Kennedy and Marinkovich bring to the table with their take on the Roman Empire period. Let’s find out with Dead Romans #1.
Writer: Fred Kennedy
Artist: Nick Marinkovich
When it comes to the Roman Empire it is one of the most well-known periods to tell stories around. Fred Kennedy and Nick Marinkovich understand this as they start us off as things are already developing with the characters you follow in Dead Romans #1. Both from a writing and art perspective Kennedy and Marinkovich take their chances with how they frame the story from the start. Its in taking the risk with the story structure that is Dead Romans #1 greatest strength and slight weakness in its armor.
Since the Roman Empire period is so well-known we don’t need to rehash the type of conflicts going down. That is something used well to keep the focus on the leads in Honoria, Arminius, and a few other named characters. The backdrop of the wartime setting to focus on how these characters are all doing what they can to survive. That also means keeping a closer eye on what is being said as soon as characters start talking you are left wondering if the side they are is the one they are most loyal to.
The loyalty aspect of the story is where we get a big dramatic shift. Because just as the sides seem to clear with what you are following Kennedy and Marinkovich drop a major curve ball. That curve ball works to build greater tension that’s conflict involving Rome and Germania.
This also leads to Honoria in particular being the standout character of Dead Roman #1. Its her story that you’re left wanting to follow most with where things end up. Which speaks to how the other characters are all in more of the grey area as they say or do things that you’re not sure if they are really the protagonist or antagonist of the story.
That said, a problem Dead Romans #1 runs into is the sense of time. There is a moment in the story that played as a flashback but your not sure when that takes place. The lack of clarity of the timeline of events does give the set-up to the story a rushed feeling. In turn the story appears smaller than what it is trying to be when using the war between Rome and Germania.
On the art side of things while Marinkovich art style is not my thing at all I can appreciate it being a good fit for the tone Dead Romans #1 is looking to strike. Marinkovich captures the dark, dreary vibes of a Roman army marching at night with only their torches and lightning streaking across the sky to light their paths. It all gives the world a brutal vibe to it. The characters all appear and act as dark as Mainkovich draws the setting.
Dead Romans #1 has a confidence in the story it is telling during the time of the Roman Empire. Fred Kennedy and Nick Marinkovich capture the setting and type of people you would find during this period well. This is not a comic book for everyone but if you are into stories from the Roman Empire period this will be for you.
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10