Of all the alternate history stories I have known, Pax Romana has what I consider to be one of the most intense time paradoxes along the lines of grapOf all the alternate history stories I have known, Pax Romana has what I consider to be one of the most intense time paradoxes along the lines of graphic novels like Watchman, mangas and anime series like Black Butler and D-Gray Man, and video game storylines like the sci-fi shooter franchise Resistance. When I first started reading this, my initial impression was that this story was made to appeal to a Catholic audience. After all, the story started in the mid-21st century when the world was "overrun by Islam" and it was the Vatican who funded the research facility that discovered time travel and initially made the plans to form the Eternal Army of Rome and send them to the era of the declining Roman Empire in order to save the existance of the Roman Catholic Church, which may have raised the eyebrows of some people of the actual church among other religious beliefs. I maybe wrong, but by the end of the first chapter, it becomes a story of changing the entire world using modern philosophies and sciences in ancient times. If you could travel back in time, how much of the past would you be willing to destroy in order to create a brighter future?
By the unwritten laws of art, the art style of any comic book and graphic novel would have to be distinct from that of the others in order for it to stand out. The art style used in this graphic novel accomplishes that using thick lines, numerous circles within circles, and a color palette dominated by white and shades of yellow, dark orange, blue, and violet.
Overall, Pax Romana should be a pleasing read to fans of time travelling stories and fans of historical fiction. It may also be a cup of tea for those interested in philosophical issues surrounding cultural and social engineering....more
This is an interesting take on the science fiction concept of the last man on Earth. What if every single man on Earth except one died, leaving half oThis is an interesting take on the science fiction concept of the last man on Earth. What if every single man on Earth except one died, leaving half of the population, consisting of women, behind alive? This first volume of the series comes off as one of those cases in comic books when an interesting concept comes off flawed in its execution. Part of the problem is that it appears sexist at times. Take the Amazons, for instance. In this story, they are feminist extremists who beleive that men are better off dead and who also burn one of their own breasts off, apparently as part of an initiation ritual of womanhood, or something like that.
So far, the overall story is pretty good. It would be interesting to see what situations Yorick Brown, an unemployed escape artist, the last human male to survive the gender plague, and the main protagonist of Y: The Last Man, gets into, since he would only encounter women as he, along with Agent 355, search for an understanding as to what caused the plague that killed off the men and why only he survived, as well as look for his girlfriend who was adventuring in Austrailia shortly before the plague started. I'm not sure what real life women would think of this story since the world of Y: The Last Man is dominated by women. Perhaps I'll give this series a go and read a couple of more volumes sometime in the future....more
A world ravaged by nuclear war, environmental disaster, and economic collapse. An American dystopia. Political polarization. Media saturation. The excA world ravaged by nuclear war, environmental disaster, and economic collapse. An American dystopia. Political polarization. Media saturation. The excessive commercialization of sex and violence. The dominance of big business in everyday society. The decline of morality. A champion standing up against the corrupt society in order to do what's right by whatever means necessary, such as defying the status quo. Two graphic novels, The Dark Knight Returns, and Watchmen, have utilized these story concepts with great success in the 1980s. But perhaps their existence is owed to their unsung spiritual predecessor, American Flagg!, written and illustrated by independent comic creator Howard Chaykin.
In 1996, the world was devastated by every disaster imaginable. In the ensuing chaos, the United States of America collapse and the US government, in the pockets of big corporations, has relocated to Mars. 35 years later, the omnipotent PLEX (basically consisting of the government merged with its corporate sponsors/owners representing the communications industry) owns what's left of America and the rest of the world. Enter Reuben Flagg, a Martian actor who got downsized by a hologram and sent to Earth for a draft into the Plexus Rangers, the PLEX’s law enforcement arm that protects their malls…while following company policy. Flagg grew up loving America and everything it stood for. Upon his arrival on Earth, he bore witness to a land where the law is all shades of grey, corruption is the norm, violence solves everything, and the American spirit is being bled dry by, or rather castrated, by the corporate greed the PLEX represents. Amidst his daily clashes with bike-riding street gangs (gogangs, as they are called), his numerous love affairs, and his investigations into anti-PLEX reactionary groups, Flagg developed a sense of duty to bring what’s left of America and its spirit back together.
Art wise, Chaykin’s sharp art style, as well as the panel arrangement, the placing of onomatopoeia in appropriate scenes, text-balloon placement, and the skilled use of subtext, helps bring the world of American Flagg! to life and gets the reader immersed in it. The trademark symbol ™ used on product names in the story adds a nice touch to the massive corporate culture in the story.
The introduction by Michael Chabon, author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, sheds excellent light into the creation of American Flagg! and its neglected influence over future comics in terms of style and writing/illustrating techniques, the science fiction genre, and the art of comic books in general. While Chabon pointed out that the science fiction trope of “a dystopian American future (or of a solar or galactic federation closely extrapolated from the American model), dominated by giant conglomerates, plastered with video screens and advertisements, awash in fetishized sex and sexualized commodities, fed and controlled and defined by pharmacology and violence” is not new due to the fact that it was pioneered in the 1940s by Alfred Bester, it was also how Chaykin used and experimented with this trope that defined the high level of artistry and storytelling that defined this work. To put it more simply with Chabon’s words: “Other comic creators had written or drawn the American dystopia; Howard Chaykin went and built one.”
The first volume of Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg! made me want to read the next volume and see where Reuben Flagg’s tour of duty as a Plexus Ranger will take him next. This is a gem for any science fiction fan that’s into cyberpunk, dystopias, and corporate/consumerism satire. ...more
I never had any interest in the movie that was inspired by this "graphic novel." The movie itself, which I'm sure has little to nothing in common withI never had any interest in the movie that was inspired by this "graphic novel." The movie itself, which I'm sure has little to nothing in common with the "graphic novel" based on the trailers and clips I viewed on the Internet, was poorly reviewed. When I got this, I was kind of hoping it would be better than the film in terms of artistic and storytelling quality. When I actually read it, I mostly disappointed because it read like a comic book, obviously because it is a comic book series that was organized into a graphic novel format. Although the plot is competently structured and the story does have a few interesting ideas, everything about it is just average, mostly the two-dimentional characters, the average comic book art style, and cliched onomatopoeia effects. I'm sure the theory was that this is intended to be a sort of sci-fi parody on the 19th American Expansion. In practice, however, its just a cliched good-vs-evil story of the outdated Cowboys and Indians genre...and Aliens added for special effects. ...more