Pullbox Reviews: Andraste #1- History wasn’t always rainbows & puppies…

Call it Peace

Aithne reflects on her first meeting with the Roman general Suetonius as she makes a difficult decision to set off a series of events that will lead her people into a bloody war.

When it comes to historical fiction in comics, I’m a huge fan… particularly in cases where the quality of the book is just so damn high. In Andraste, the casual reader may find themselves doing some head scratching, followed by a bit of research for some context to the story, but none of that takes anything away from the work done. It’s a story written with love, and illustrated with skill.

First, some of that context I mentioned…

The comic’s title, Andraste, refers to a warrior goddess worshipped among the Brittonic tribes during the Iron Age. As the Roman Empire marched on the tribes to expand its reach, Queen Boudicca called on the goddess to defend her people and keep them free. The comic’s first issue flashes back as Aithne recalls her childhood introduction to the Romans. A quick Google search will tell you that things went downhill from there.

Writer Honor Vincent is taking a less than favorable view of Rome’s expansion, but she’s not sugar-coating the brutality of the Britannic tribes in their response. I’m a fan of the approach, and I’m all in favor of the deep dive into history. Comics are full of superheroes flying around, smashing bad guys & defending the universe. Vincent’s chosen perspective works great as she’s exploring some pretty major events through the eyes of a young girl who had no idea that she’d been born in the middle of historical events.

Bringing these events to the page, the artistic team of Abel Cicero (pencils), Unai De Zarate (inks), & DC Alonso (colors) bring a fantastic combination of realistic and dynamic figures. The individual players are all given very distinct characteristics, while still paying attention to familial resemblance. That attention to detail did cause a bit of confusion as the issue starts out with an older Aithne before going into flashback for the main story… she looks a LOT like her mom, Boudicca. Still, the flipping back and forth to figure out the time jump wasn’t a chore at all, given the really gorgeous work done on the art. Cicero & De Zarate pack a lot of visual information into their panels, but keep everything nice and tidy, not cluttered. The look is given its final polish as Alonso’s colors take a bright & vivid approach, against type for what’s often depicted as a “dark time” full of grit and grime.

The lettering by Micah Myers… okay, I’m going to say it. I’m not a huge fan of this kind of stylized attempt to remind us that this is a period piece. The script’s font would have worked better for me in smaller doses, but used through the entire book it was a little distracting. Aside from that, Myers kept it all arranged so it didn’t get in the way of the artwork, and did some good work incorporating sound effects into the panels.

Andraste #1 is a solid introduction to a story whose impact has carried over through the centuries. It’s an honest look at cost of war, in particular as it affects the innocent and can corrupt those who believe in the righteousness of their cause. Check out the Kickstarter campaign if you’re interested in getting your hands on issues 1-3, collected in a single volume.

Final Score: 10/13

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