COMIC BOOK REVIEW: AQUILA #1 / AUTHOR: GORDON RENNIE / ARTIST: LEIGH GALLAGHER / PUBLISHER: 2000AD / RELEASE DATE: MARCH 25TH
Aquila #1 is the first release of what promises to be five full-colour releases from 2000AD featuring the eponymous Aquila – an unstoppable warrior. The stories were originally printed in 2012 and are heavily influenced by the comic strip Blackhawk; this was a strip in the Tornado comic, absorbed when Tornado merged with 2000AD. The character of Blackhawk first appeared in April 1979.
Aquila has a big, cinematic backstory in that he was part of the army of Spartacus, defeated and then crucified for his part in proceedings. Hanging on the cross, he calls out to every god he can think of and his prayers are answered by Ammit the Devourer. Ammit gives Aquila immortality in exchange for his sole and his service.
This first volume consists of 36 gloriously illustrated pages and tells a story set during the Roman occupation of Britain with plenty of violence, blood and slaughter. The first 12 pages give Aquila’s origin and then action shifts to the Roman/Iceni wars. Aquila has a simple mission – as the tool of Ammit, he has to keep killing and providing the souls of the most evil people he can find. He has no loyalty and is driven only by the need to kill Roman or Iceni beings of little relevance.
If there is a criticism of this full throttle story it is the conclusion. Action stops at exactly the point when the reader will want to read the next issue. It is a beat in the action that is hardly a pause; Aquila has just taken a few steps on the path to a quest – the many decades since he became immortal presumably filled with bloodshed but no fulfilment for the main character. The merest hint of something more and the story stops dead. A powerful way to encourage people to buy the next episode but, for a casual reader, a frustration.
Complaints aside, this is a well illustrated, gripping story up to the very high standards 2000AD often reaches. Now, how long until the next release!
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