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SLAINE: THE BRUTANIA CHRONICLES: BOOK 4

by Gavin Johnston on August 08, 2018

Writer: Pat Mills
Artist: Simon Davis
Letterer: Ellie De Ville
Publisher: Rebellion

Before we begin the review, a quick explanation of what happens during Slaine: Brutania Chronicles: Book 4.

Beware, spoilers ahead:

 

Slaine fights the minions of an evil god, for reasons which are barely explored.
Slaine finds out who is dad was, which is important for reasons which are briefly mentioned.
Slaine sets out to fight another bad guy’s minions, for reasons which are barely explored.


We are thrown straight in to the action, with no explanation or re-cap. This is book four after all, and if you don’t know who Slaine is and how this works, you're clearly on the wrong bus. Slaine: Brutania Chronicles: Book 4 is headed straight for pseudo-philosophical bloodshed-ville.

 

The blood drenched Celtic warrior smashes and slashes his way through an almost non-stop action sequence, as dialogue as heavy as his massive axe is strewn across each page.  

 

These fight scenes should be breathless, but the axe-fodder foes are soldiers made of rock. Dozens and dozens of unemotional, barely moving rocks. On top of this, the sequences frequently look confused. Twice in the first dozen pages, Slaine will be in the middle of a seemingly unwinnable fight one moment, and then he’s escaped, running off across the landscape, giving another speech. These cumbersome scenes aren’t helped by dialogue such as the witty quip “The day of your death is preferred to the day of your death...You have immersed yourself in the pollution of your wickedness. I will cleanse you of your defilement”.

 

Art by Simon Davis is full of individual panels which are lovely, eye catching and well composed. Credit is due for taking the same fight and making it look interesting a couple of dozen times. There are some great double page landscapes, intersperse with angry close ups and disembodied talking heads. Visually, the story is held back by it’s uninteresting characters, and their unending fights which take place either in dark caves, or blank landscapes.

 

Even letterer Ellie De Ville, who provides sterling work for 2000AD on a weekly basis, seems to slip up. Dialogue from the big-bad is blocky and uneven. It’s presumably an attempt to give character to lines which lack any, but it feels off. Towards the end of the story, lettering choices become even stranger, approaching near unreadable levels.

 

Behind Book 4 is the story of a man discovering who he is, whilst fighting against a new way of life and watching his faith system slowly collapse. It’s about the period of human history when religious faith stopped being about wondering at the boundless glory of nature, and became about following a set of rules that are often contradictory and rarely understood. About how religion became a hierarchical system, used by the political elite to suppress ordinary people. Religious satire, however, works worst when it is uninteresting, po-faced, and explains itself over three identical splashpages.

 

There’s an audience who adore Slaine, and will snap up Book 4 of the latest saga to add to their ever swelling collection. But this is a dozen pages of a story stretched across a hundred pages of art. Republished in this format so soon after it’s initial publication, it feels cynical, topped off with a final, literal deus ex machina.

Our Score:

4/10

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