The Brutania Chronicles Volume 1 – A Simple Killing
Written by Pat Mills
Art by Simon Davis
Slaine created by Pat Mills and Angela Kincaid
Published by 2000AD: www.2000adonline.com
“Ancient Albion. Celtic barbarian warrior Slaine united the tribes of the Earth Goddess and became the first High King of Ireland. After ruling for seven years, he fought for the goddess in other eras before returning to save his people from the Fomorian sea devils. Now, he’s crossed over onto the isle of Monadh in an attempt to rescue Sinead from the evil clutches of the Drune Lords.”
“My name is Slaine Mac Roth. And I am eminently severe in the work of violence.
The Review: While I agree with the publishers that this new Slaine volume is a perfect jumping on point for new readers, I wouldn’t want you to miss out on all of the saga so far.
This a gloriously violent epic of the warrior Slaine that seemed to me somehow different to those that have come before. Slaine has a tired look in his eyes. He has a different determination, equally brutal and personal and it feels like the beginning of the final act in his saga. It is genuinely one of my favourite things that 2000AD have ever put out (yes, I said ever) and having avidly followed the weekly episodes, I immediately pre-ordered the hardback collection as soon as it was announced.
The story and dialogue by Pat Mills are mesmerising in their poetry and immediacy of action, echoing through your mind and resonating long after you put it down. The artwork screams epic – yet has some of the most personal moments seen in any prog.
The Brutania Chronicles Volume 1: A Simple Killing is full of incredible savage, cruel and shocking set pieces that stay with you after a reading. The art by Simon Davis is a masterclass in layouts and emphasis on emotion. It has a painted quality to its line work and makes use of impactful changes in colour palette. The pages where he shows the Green Man style party are some stand out from their use of colour and layout and an anarchist’s humour that also had me chuckling.
In one tremendous sequence, Slaine crosses the causeway to Ireland. Slowly and menacingly progressing, Death follows him as crows hover over his head, a sequence told through a slow overhead splash page progression. As Slaine progresses riding an Ox, his fate is narrated by the grotesque villain- all genuinely breathtaking stuff.
The dialogue crackles with energy and strangeness. Every page is eminently quotable. and this story has you looking into the eyes of the warrior. You can see and hear his emotions and, especially, his determination on every page.
“Let me tell you about things that go together. Weeping and Death. Groaning and Violence. A battlefield and floods of blood.”
The book has scary and disturbing images at almost every turn, a fantasy story that homages nobody, that is both genuinely otherworldly beautiful and grotesque in equal measure. The pages where Sinead turns into an horrific sea creature are incredible from both a visual and a pacing point of view.
It’s also a tale full of creatures who step out from both the shadows and our nightmares. The battles are intensely sodden with blood at the end of an axe. Each page turn is an assault on your senses, changing quickly from moments of quiet to scenes of action and gore.
Brutania Chronicles also deals with themes of life and death and makes much of the influence our fathers have on us. The son of Slough Feg seeks justice for the murder of his father and plots and relishes seeing the death of our hero. Slaine himself tells stories of his father and seems to view him differently after one battle with creatrures he heard tales about at his father’s knee.
“Show me your father and I’ll show you who you are.”
The first volume of Brutania Chronicles ends with much more to follow. No spoilers, but it ends on a moment that I didn’t expect and I cannot wait for the next volume. It gets a ten out of ten from me for every single aspect.
An absolute triumph by Pat Mills and Simon Davis, Pat also provides an the introduction about his approach to the series and the mixing of myths and legends in his research and storytelling. It’s this detailed fleshing out of the legend of the Celtic warrior that add to this volume’s richness.
Along with a terrific story, there’s a great back matter section full of sketches, maps, layouts and concept art for the story from Davis who is, without a doubt, at the top of his game. He quotes Mike McMahon’s ‘Sky Chariots’ as an early influence on his approach to Slaine Mac Roth.
Just watch out for that Giant’s penis!
• The Brutania Chronicles Volume 1 – A Simple Killing will be released on 20th January 2015. If you want to order it through your local comic shop theDiamond order code is NOV141605.
Many thanks for reading.