Britannia, from Valiant, is a potent blend of horror and police procedural, making it the perfect horror mystery read for this Halloween!
Potential spoilers for Britannia #1-4 ahead!
Britannia, published by Valiant Comics, is the perfect horror mystery for this Halloween. Written by the legendary Peter Milligan (X-Statix, Shade the Changing Man) with art by Juan Jose Ryp (Ninjak), is the perfect hybrid of police procedural and Lovecraftian horror. First appearing in 2016, the series was collected into trade and inspired two sequels as well, titled We Who Are About to Die and Lost Eagles of Rome.
When Valiant returned to the comics scene in 2012, they began by publishing classic Valiant characters such as X-O Manowar, Rai, and Bloodshot. All of these characters appeared in Valiant titles in the 1990s and were reimagined for modern audiences. Over the years, however, they have been expanding beyond their classic characters and branching out into new ideas and concepts. The Divinity series was high concept science fiction and Faith, with its body-positive protagonist, was a huge win for representation. Britannia is part of this trend; while Valiant has dabbled in horror with their Shadowman title, this represents their first full attempt at the genre.
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Set during the cruel and sadistic reign of the Emperor Nero, Britannia is the story of Antonius Axia, a former Centurion who is essentially the world’s first detective—he is called a “detectionist” by his fellow Romans. After years of fighting on the front, Axia returns to Rome and undergoes a mystical enhancement procedure by the magical Vestal Virgins. This procedure gives Axia enhanced powers of perception, and he acquires a reputation for solving crimes. When centurions start turning up dead in the Britannia province, Axia is dispatched to get to the bottom of matters.
Upon arriving, Axia quickly surmises something is amiss, something otherworldly. Axia quickly meets the pagan inhabitants of Britannia, called the “wyrd.” As he digs deeper into the mystery, his sanity starts to slip away, and he must make uneasy alliances in order to stop the monster killing centurions. When Axia finally confronts the horror stalking the land, it is a sight out of the works of HP Lovecraft.
Valiant’s first foray into the horror genre is a success. It is the perfect blend of history, crime, and horror – taking from each of those to make something great. The horror aspects leave one unsettled, and like all great crime/noir fiction, there is the idea that while good won today, the battle against crime rages on. This potent combination is brought to by strong work Peter Milligan, no stranger to horror himself, having written a number of books for DC’s Vertigo imprint, and artist Juan Jose Ryp, who brings to vivid life First Century Rome. If you are looking for a good horror mystery this Halloween, check out Britannia from Valiant.
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