James Kelly (writer) brings a stark portrait of the early beginnings of Caligula, which really starts with Claudius, the emperor preceding Caligula. The stuttering, frowned-upon Claudius takes the throne pretty early on in the comic. The story seems to be more about him than Caligula until almost the end, where parts of Caligula’s madness starts to peek through the cracks.
The writing pretty well follows history as a guide, and I’m very interested to see where it goes next and how much history it will capture while still taking some creative liberties. The story flowed; however, in parts, there were little footnotes in the panels to explain the who’s who of the tale. While someone not familiar with Roman history would definitely need these explanations, they somewhat detracted from the reading of the comic. Personally, I’d prefer to see that information at the beginning of the comic as a cast of characters in the vain of plays on Roman history. There were a couple panels in the middle of the comic with a time jump that read a little confusing at first, but I was able to move forward with great interest in the story.
The artwork and lettering (by Christie Shinn) fit the comic like a glove. It’s a bit jagged and almost rough at times, which complements the story and main character. It is Caligula translated into art in the best possible way. The panels do not suffer from lack of colors but transport the reader back in time to the crazy, scattered world of Caligula.
While Roman history buffs (such as myself) can garner a lot of enjoyment from this comic, those who are not familiar with Caligula can also find a great cross of entertainment and history lesson about one of the most notable Roman emperors. This sneak peek of the comic was well worth it; I cannot wait to see where Caligula takes us next.