By Patrick Larose
Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with being a good one of those.
Hadrian’s Wall is a murder mystery, or rather, a locked-room detective story set in space. One where a would-be detective investigates a mysterious death aboard a space station only the victim here isn't some random astronaut but instead the investigator’s former best friend and his ex-wife’s current husband. Out here in the quiet dark of space, everyone's a suspect and everyone has something to hide.
But that was all last issue. This issue finally starts the investigation and Simon starts interviewing every crew member of Hadrian's Wall.
We know by the nature of mystery stories that this is too early on for any big revelations and instead we have to be content with the gradual sprinkling of information that brings Simon onto the same level as us genre-savvy readers—that this death is actually a murder.
There are a few glimpses into the crew members here as everyone still on the surface treats the death as an accident. They’re belligerent, each with their own theory about why or how what happened here happened and for so many of them, the reality of death only lingers on the surface and never really sinking in.
The most interesting and inventive thing about this story so far remains the very sadly human nature of these characters. Here, they feel as suspended as their position in the stars. The dead was their co-worker, their living mate in this isolated workstation but never really their friend. What might seem strange and disconnected serves to remind us the type of person who would leave their planet in favor of the dark, isolation of space. These were never people seeking to explore a wide open frontier; they’re individuals escaping to the black infinite.
Hadrian’s Wall isn’t trying to reinvent the murder mystery. This is a familiar song played well. Not interested in shattering detective story tropes, instead they opt to use them in a way that’s both smart and tightly wrapped. Characters are compelling even while wearing their roles on their sleeves, a mystery never obvious but still inviting a sense of depth and darkness like a rotten swamp.
We know from page one that Simon would shed the skin of an embittered and jilted ex, looking to make a quick buck, to the willing detective but the how is still psychology inviting question that hangs over the issue. Simon isn’t just a good guy wanting to bring justice for a dead friend.
This isn’t just a mystery about a murder on a space station; it’s a personal investigation into a character’s past, not to determine a hidden revelation, but instead to bring an understanding to where we stand with the people around us.
The greatest mystery Hadrian’s Wall isn’t “how” or even “who” committed a murder, but instead figure out “why” we come to solve them in the first place.
Hadrian’s Wall #2
Writers: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Alec Siegel
Publisher: Image Comics
Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital