BRITANNIA: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE #4 by Peter Milligan and Juan José Ryp
BRITANNIA: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE #4 is a satisfying end to the current arc that proves this series is the best detective story in comics today.
100 %
Case Closed

BRITANNIA: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE #4 finally gives fans the epic conclusion to the ongoing Roman murder mystery. This blockbuster finale includes every aspect that makes this series great: Roman history, serious detective work, and gruesome gladiator action. Writer Peter Milligan and artist Juan José Ryp skillfully close another case for history’s greatest detective.

READ: Want to catch up on this series? Here is our BRITANNIA: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE #3 review!

A Rational Explanation [No Spoilers]

Roman detective Antonius Axia’s investigation into a series of grisly murders, possibly committed by the gods, continues in BRITANNIA: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE #4. The last issue left Axia at wit’s end after his deductive abilities fail him. He had no logical explanation for the supernatural murders of the Roman elite.

The tension between the supernatural murders and Axia’s skepticism continues to be at the forefront of this issue. Issue #3 left us with Axia’s son being at the mercy of a murderous Apollo. In the final issue, we see a surprisingly flustered Axia trying desperately to solve this case. This central conflict between the rational and supernatural is really the crux of the series. Milligan does a superb job of anchoring this battle between reason and superstition inside of Axia’s personal life. The stakes are heightened because Axia’s logical detective skills are the only thing separating his son from a grisly end. If he can’t figure out a rational reason for why it seems like gods are murdering people, Rome and his son are doomed.

Britannia: We Who Are About to Die #4
Image courtesy of Valiant

Out of the Arena

Previous issues had forgone the detective elements to focus on the gladiator arena. Milligan treated us to a multitude of gorgeously vicious gladiator battles. However, at its core, this is a detective series. I was glad to see Milligan finally lean into the mystery in BRITANNIA: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE #4. Axia begins the issue with one vague clue — a hallucinogenic plant. He then uses his brilliant detective skills to extrapolate an entire conspiracy. Milligan expertly peppers in Axia’s detective skills in big Sherlock Holmes-ian logical leaps as well as in his personal reactions. Writing a believable detective character can be difficult. Thanks to his small touches, Milligan makes Axia feel like an intelligent force to be reckoned with.

Britannia: We Who Are About to Die #4
Image courtesy of Valiant

Fire and Ice

BRITANNIA: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE #4 features a team-up between Axia and Achillia, a former slave turned bad-ass female gladiator. The previous issues sparingly featured Achillia. However, in this issue, the mystery intersects with Achillia’s personal life and a collision between her and Axia is inevitable.

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I appreciated Achillia taking center-stage in the issue. She acts as an excellent foil to Axia. While Axia is calm and rational, Achillia is fierce, savage, and street smart. The scenes when they are investigating together have great chemistry, with a perfect good-cop/bad-cop vibe. Axia is looking for facts and Achillia is looking for revenge. Furthermore, their relationship evolves as the issue goes on. As the mystery gets solved, the two get into a groove rather than butting heads. You can see how entertaining team-ups between them in the future will be.

Britannia: We Who Are About to Die #4
Image courtesy of Valiant

Drawing to a Close

In the final issue of BRITANNIA: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE, Ryp continues to provide stellar artwork. His ability to render detailed, gory, sword and sandal violence once again takes the spotlight. However, in BRITANNIA: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE #4 Ryp turns much of his focus to the supernatural elements. He does a great job of portraying the menacing, otherworldly gods in a way that services the story. There is more than meets the eye and each supernatural portrayal has a real life corollary.

As the narrative reveals more clues, the reader can look back at Ryp’s artwork and understand his aesthetic choices. The reader can notice the same inconsistencies in these creatures as Axia. Adding these little details in each scene allows the reader to act as the detective alongside Axia. It also creates a comic that merits multiple readings.


The final reveal for this issue was as twisty and conspiratorial as one would expect from this series. Milligan connects all of the threads from previous issues. Fans should not worry — the final reveal feels earned and not cheap. A focused reader could go back and easily trace the bread crumbs that lead Axia to the conclusion. As with the previous issue, the final reveal connects with actual Roman history. It does so in a way that engages with the audience without betraying true events.

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BRITANNIA: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE #4 is a superb end to the series and a satisfying end to this ongoing mystery. Milligan sets up a strong investigative team dynamic between Axia and Achilla that I hope gets explored in future issues. Overall, this issue is another solid open-and-closed investigative story that proves BRITANNIA is the best detective series in comics today.


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