by Brian Wood (Author), Justin Giampaoli (Illustrator), Andrea Mutti (Illustrator), Lee Loughridge (Illustrator)
Publisher: Dark Horse Books (July 31, 2018)
Softcover, 112 pages
This is for the alternate history fans. In AD 323, a group of Roman ships is lost in a storm and wash up on the shores of the New World, a preceding Columbus by a thousand years. Unable to return home, they establish a new colony, Rome West (Roma Occidens), completely altering America history and subsequent world events. This is not a straight story of events, but a series of vignettes following the line of one family through nearly two thousand years of events.
Some people find this book annoying, not having one protagonist, but you have to look at the main character being the land of Rome West itself, and see it grow, thrive, go through struggles - both foreign and domestic- and eventually question everything about itself, when it becomes the greatest superpower in the world. Once you accept that, the stories are much more enjoyable and you watch society change in time.
There are some complaints, mostly about the gear the Romans are using with the time period- these might be true, but who cares? The story only lasts eight pages, then jumps ahead two hundred years. The only objection I have is the encounter with Columbus, where the centurion on the island makes several leaps of logic about these people he’s never seen before - sure seemed like the author making a speech.
There was also an objection about Christianity being unknown to the people of Rome West, until the Spaniards arrived, while the Romans would’ve known about it (the emperor at the time was Constantine, who converted to the religion), but the religion they do have seems to be a mixture of the old Roman Gods and Algonquin beliefs. So it make sense that none of the Romans who washed up were Christians and just didn’t pass on the knowledge of this religion while struggling to survive.
While you might argue with the events and time period that they occur in, this is still a fascinating book, and one to cause discussion. The art is amazing and backs up each time period ably. Characters are distinct and action is fluid. Well worth a look.
For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst.