"Romulus" #1 from Image Comics -
Ashlar is a Wolf, an assassin of the highest rank of the Order of Romulus, an ancient sect that guides the fate of the planet through economic power and physical, murderous might. Ashlar was born to the most deadly of all the Wolves, Axis, who trained her, honing her mind, body, and spirit to a sharpness only surpassed by the sharpness of her own. For a while, they were happy, content to serve the aims of Romulus, entirely faithful to the Order, and its wolf-god. But when Axis is ordered to murder an innocent child, her faith is shaken after the act, and her loyalty to the Order is broken beyond repair. Older than recorded history, and more powerful than any nation or empire that has ever arisen, the Order will not be denied. The Order of Romulus destroys every existing Wolf, save Axis and her cub, Ashlar. As Axis and Ashlar prepare to take on the most terrible power in the history of mankind, the Order of Romulus grooms new assassins - The Hunters - nearly unstoppable, drug-enhanced men who succeed in destroying Ashlar's beloved mother and leave her licking her wounds like an injured animal. When the Order sets its sights on dominating a brilliant scientist who has just invented planet-saving technology, Ashlar attacks, intent on stopping them and taking the blackest vengeance against the sect that robbed her of her life, and her mother. The Order of Romulus is about to discover that nothing is more dangerous than a lone wolf.
Bryan Hill writes this pulse-pounding first issue of "Romulus." From the very first page, I was captured by Hill's new mythology as he guides us through Ashlar's origin in her own words, provided in the caption boxes. In the first seven pages, Hill gives us a succinct, effective and captivating origin story, builds a mythology around his protagonist, establishes a frightening vertical struggle for her, and introduces us to his alternate-history Earth. It's all pretty spectacular. Ashlar's training and thirst for vengeance make her a fun action-hero, the love that she had for her mother makes her interesting, human and hopeful, even though the hope is not apparent on the surface. You would think that one of the world's greatest assassins would not open herself to loving a mother that trained her with a singular purpose: to kill. You would think that Ashlar would know better than to surrender to an emotion that makes her vulnerable; however, Ashlar loved her mother deeply, which tells me that understands a strong bond and that she may be able to empathize or even fall in love herself one day. Very interesting. Nelson Blake II turns Hill's story into visuals with elegant, uncomplicated pencils and great action panels that are not very busy at all. It seems that the characters and the action are the focus for Blake, which leaves his backgrounds pretty much made up of one or two solid colors. Be that as it may, this is a pretty stellar showing for "Romulus" - the first issue is MORE than solid; it's outta sight!
RATING: 9 out of 10.
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