This comic is everything it says it is; a secret history of Rome. I always like when comics can take history and put it into a new genre. The saying is true that history writes itself, but man having Travis Horseman definitely helps! He takes a surface story of Romulus Augustulus and dives into the behind the scenes of this young man’s short rule. It is an adventure through and through, but don’t be fooled because there is plenty of mystery in this first volume that will make you want to suit up in your tunica or toga, pick up your battle sword, and cry for the fallen empires. Romulus was just a boy when he became emperor of Western Rome. His father, Flavius Orestes, defeated the previous emperor, and it was time to put his 12-year-old in charge. Yeah that makes a lot of sense. Soon, Orestes was challenged and Romulus had to give up his kingdom and retreat to live a quiet life in the South of Italy. I doubt a lot of people pay attention to his story besides for the being so young aspect. Otherwise, it seems crazy to put someone so young in charge and since he lost his kingdom so quickly, nothing major could have happened... or could it?
Horseman takes a new look at this ancient history and adds an unbelievable story to it all. Now it being the first volume, we don’t get all the details, but there are a lot of questions brought up that we will get to later. First we must talk about these characters. The story actually starts 60 years after Romulus’ rule. We follow Procopius and his quest to find Romulus’ lost history. He wants to know how Western Rome fell, so he doesn’t make the same mistake. Others have sneaked this wisdom before him, but you have a feeling that Procopius will be different.
After much talk with the local Abbot, he finally finds a book that explains the last days from Romulus’ perspective of the fallen empire. Then we jump back 60 years. This is where the story all takes place. You would think that Romulus is the main character, but for this first volume, we actually follow his father more. It is a tad misleading when reading the synopsis that Romulus isn’t even in it that much. But after meeting his father, it is clear why he is the main character. Horseman has given this man a strong spirit.
On top of this already actioned packed character driven comic, you have a mystery. I don’t want to give much away, but in the middle of all this terror is Amiculus. He is this mysterious figure that some believe in and some don’t. It seems that the ones who do think he causes problem. He reminds me of the Roman Gods, just by the way people talk about him.
My only concern for the comic is the audience. It is unclear what type of audience the author is trying to capture. At first, it comes across as a YA comic because of the 12-year-old leader. But as said above, he isn’t the main character and the thick plot with mixed with higher level vocabulary throws that out. I guess my problem isn’t so much that the audience is older, but that it isn’t an all-ages comic. I feel like students are always trying to find literature that is fun about history, so this could be a great tie in.
Otherwise, I really dig Horseman’s take on this ancient story. It sheds light on a small moment that was big for Romulus. It makes you wonder how many history moments could be manipulated and created into something new. Plus it always helps to have a great artist on hand as well. Giancarlo Caracuzzo’s raw talent and rigid lines mixes well with the whole theme of the story. I just love the intense scenes where the capes are flying. It adds emotion and a dramatic effect into the writing. Any history buff will enjoy this series, so review up on ancient Rome and dive into this grand tale.
Amiculus: A Secret History, Vol 1. - Roma Aeterna Writer: Travis Horseman Artist: Giancarlo Caracuzzo Colorist: Flavia Cvetkovic Publisher: Amiculus Books Price: $15.00 Release Date: 1/21/15 Format: Hardcover, Print