BRITANNIA: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE #3
BRITANNIA: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE #3 by Peter Milligan and Juan Jose Ryp
Plot
Art
Characterization
Summary
BRITANNIA: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE #3 is a perfect blend of the gladiator combat, detective stories, and horror that has so far been the high point of the series.
95 %
Temples of Doom
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BRITANNIA: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE #3 splits its time equally between savage gladiator battles and an engaging mystery. The Ancient Roman detective, Antonius, gets to stretch his deductive legs. As the mysteries begin to unwind, BRITANNIA #3 picks up momentum and ends on a fantastic cliffhanger. However, the issue suffers from a lack of focus on the female character, Achillia. So far, this series has relegated her to the sidelines. BRITANNIA #3, written by Peter Milligan with art by Juan Jose Ryp, is no exception.

BRITANNIA: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE #3
Image from BRITANNIA: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE #3 courtesy of Valiant Comics.

A Smarter Hack and Slash

This issue begins with the evil Emperor Nero forcing Antonius and Achillia into the gladiator arena. Despite being outnumbered, the two warriors triumph. Achillia utilizes her blind ferocity while Antonius, in contrast, uses his deductive abilities to do away with his opponents. The scene reminded me of the bar brawl in Robert Downey Junior’s SHERLOCK HOLMES. Antonius meticulously finds the details necessary to win. We get a real feel for how good a detective Antonius is, seeing him in a realm we have not seen him in before. The scene is not integral to the story, but it does flesh out Antonius’s character toward a new direction.

BRITANNIA: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE #3
Image from BRITANNIA: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE #3 courtesy of Valiant Comics.

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Disappearing Act

After the riveting fight scene, the issue continues with the ongoing mystery. The sons of Rome’s high society members are being killed by gods come to life. Antonius traces the clues back to Achillia. Their interaction, however, is brief as she sends him on an adventure. This is Achillia’s last appearance in BRITANNIA #3. It feels like the writer is pulling the rug out from under us. Hopefully, Achillia will have more time to shine in later issues.

BRITANNIA: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE #3
Image from BRITANNIA: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE #3 from Valiant Comics.

Temples of Doom

Antonius and his partner/servant, Bran, travel deep into the catacombs to decipher what is really going on in the temples. The dynamic between the two characters is great. Bran is far more than just a bland, Watson-type figure to bounce ideas off of. He offers a different perspective that Antonius requires. The two complement each other well and the dialogue absolutely reflects this.

BRITANNIA: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE #3
Image from BRITANNIA: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE #3 courtesy of Valiant Comics.

Antonius has always been a strict realist and pragmatic thinker. He believes that the supernatural always has an explanation, and superstitions are harmful. In previous issues, this rationalism gave Antonius an edge over his opponents. However, as the mystery becomes increasingly complex, Antonius begins to reject everything he knows to be true. Further, he learns his son’s life is on the line and time is running out. Writer Peter Milligan does a great job of pushing this character to his limits.

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Brutal

BRITANNIA’s art has always excelled at portraying violence, but BRITANNIA #3 is a new high. The opening scene is a vicious gladiator battle with piles and piles of bodies cascading onto our hero. The renderings are so complex and detailed that the picture almost seems to be in motion. These arrangements give the impression of a detailed Renaissance painting, where multiple figures spiral into the center. Every page is a complex mosaic of blood and gore.

BRITANNIA: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE #3
Image from BRITANNIA: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE #3 courtesy of Valiant Comics.

The most memorable aspect of this issue is Antonius’ trek into the haunted temples. The depictions of statues of gods coming to life are trippy and violent. The gods rip, tear, and scatter body parts like kids playing with silly putty. The more grounded ultra-violence found earlier in the book is expertly juxtaposed with these exaggerated dismemberments. Not only is this violence disgustingly beautiful, but it raises the stakes for our heroes. I would not want to see Antonius go out like that.

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Final Thoughts on BRITANNIA: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE #3

Overall, BRITANNIA #3 is a well-crafted issue that perfectly balances the detective, action, and horror aspects readers love about BRITANNIA. However, the sparse interactions with Achillia are slightly disappointing. Hopefully, the creators are just trying to make us wait for her more involved role in the story.

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