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‘Hadrian’s Wall #1:’ Comic Book Review

In television and film, “bottle episodes” or “bottle films” are an interesting way to change it up, sacrificing the dramatic changes of scenery to bring in a moody, insular atmosphere that notches up tension and focuses much more on character. In comics, since the budget for the set pieces on the page is basically infinite, this technique is rarely used, which is something that made Hadrian’s Wall a very curious series. Described by writer Kyle Higgins as an “’80s sci-fi murder mystery” that is set in a single, isolated place, this series gets rid of huge, interstellar expanses in favor of a single ship and the people inside.

The basic plot takes a futuristic, noirish tone, as much as a juxtaposition as that is. When an astronaut dies, washed-up detective Simon Moore is brought back into the fray to investigate the cause behind his death. There are several problems with this: The company sponsoring his investigation is looking for any reason not to accept fault, and though originally seen as an accident, the real cause behind the astronaut’s death could be something much more sinister. Oh, and one of the crew members is also Simon’s ex-wife, who is less than pleased to have him aboard the ship. Locked in a small ship with his ex-wife and a crew that more or less hates him from the jump, Simon has to tread lightly in an enclosed space.

This is a really clever idea, especially in a comics landscape full of huge, exploding settings. Keeping things in a tight, nigh-inescapable place makes everything that happens in the series a bit more intense than they would be had this be given some landscape to cover. The team behind Hadrian’s Wall (Higgins and co-writer Alec Siegel, artist Rod Reis, and letterer Troy Peteri) has done a great job making a great-looking series that has a lot of tension and atmosphere to it. The story moves at its own slowed pace, keeping the sensation of a major reveal around every corner, a skill that is hard to keep going, but one that Higgins and Siegel seem to be quite adept at.

Reis brings this series to life in a puzzlingly familiar way ,as well. While his style is absolutely his own, it feels very much like something you’d see in a Top Cow Productions title like Aphrodite IX, where Stjepan Sejic creates masterpieces that look to be totally painted on every page. There’s a classic beauty to this kind of artistic style, and in this theoretical future, it feels infused with an older style that really makes it pop.

Isolated stories like this don’t come along often, and while I have no idea where this is going, I’m in for the ride. Hadrian’s Wall looks like one of those surprise limited runs that will keep people talking long after its finished.

Russ Pirozek, Fanbase Press Contributor



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