PAX ROMANA 1
Written and Drawn by Jonathan Hickman
Published by Image Comics
In 2053, the secret to time travel is unlocked, and the world’s history is about to be re-written. How? The scientists who succeed in doing so are devout Catholics and turn their research over to Rome. Thus, the papacy puts together a force of clerics and military men and gives them a one-way mission: go back to 312AD, shift the world’s developing course, and make sure the “proper” way of thinking becomes dominant that much sooner. This is the story now being told in secret to the King of the World, a 4-year old boy ascended to Roman power, in a wildly divergent timeline than the one we know. But to even the most intelligent eye, it would seem that the time-traveling expedition didn’t achieve its goals quite as intended. The question then, is: what did happen to those who went back 2000 years to change history?
I made no secret of my absolute loathing for Hickman’s first book, THE NIGHTLY NEWS; it was a pedantic, whiny work, resembling nothing more than the ramblings of a college freshman who has just discovered who Che Guevara was. So I frankly expected very little from PAX ROMANA. So it is with great surprise that I sit here and tell you that this is a much more mature, assured story, and I was intrigued by it from page one. It really seems like Hickman has ironed some of the kinks out of his storytelling; there’s a flow to what happens here, and he avoids making value judgments about any of it, leaving the emotional response solely to the reader. That’s a sign of confidence, and I like it.
No question, I’m also a sucker for a good time travel story as well. And what interests me here, is that I don’t think this is a story where the genie will be put back in the bottle; it looks like Hickman is set on telling his story within an alternate history on a permanent basis. That makes for an engaging challenge, and I’m going to be watching carefully to see how successful Hickman can be in playing it out.