COMIC BOOK REVIEW: SLAINE: THE BRUTANIA CHRONICLES 1 - A SIMPLE KILLING / AUTHOR: PAT MILLS / ARTIST: SIMON DAVIES / PUBLISHER: 2000AD GRAPHIC NOVELS / RELEASE DATE: JANUARY 15TH
Celtic antihero Slaine returns, rebooted and made accessible for a brand new audience, accompanied by creator Pat Mills and new-to-the-character artist Simon Davis. Since the proliferation of the Game of Thrones TV adaptation and its Zeitgeist-level popularity, there's never been a better time for Slaine to whet his axe and find himself some brand new readers while he's at it.
This isn't quite the same Slaine as we met in The Horned God or the classic tales that came before or after. Apparently less aggressive, physically smaller, and a little more vulnerable, this reboot brings us a more personable Slaine than we might be used to. He doesn't even warp out in this collection. A 'bum', as new love interest Sinead describes him. Even Ukko isn't around for now, apparently left behind by Slaine, who deemed it unwise to let the dwarf within the vicinity of treasure. Understandable, if a shame – Ukko's reliably foul little presence is sorely missed here.
Which isn't to say that The Brutania Chronicles isn't a lot of fun. There's bloodshed aplenty as Slaine cuts a swathe through his new foes (including one legitimately awesome battle with a giant and his brilliantly-named axe), lopping off heads and snarling catchphrases as he goes on his merry way. The villains of the piece (originating, in typical 2000AD style, from a 'Tory' island) are a gruesome, nasty lot, enjoyably varied and well-illustrated. Drawing inspiration from lesser known English legends, Mills ensures that Slaine's adventure trundles on at a cracking pace, from beginning to end (of book one, anyway). Davis handles the artwork well, although his Slaine is a little longer in the face, less scary looking, and more glum than this reader would have liked. Still, his other character work, landscapes and action sequences are wonderful – reminiscent of Simon Bisley's work on The Horned God.
It takes a while to find its footing, but A Simple Killing emerges as a fine reboot of one of England's most interesting comic book creations. We give this first instalment of The Brutania Chronicles eight stars – and no, we do not think it too many.
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