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Apostata, by Ken Broeders

I got the first six albums of Ken Broeders' epic saga of the life of the Emperor Julian the Apostate, who I previously knew really from Chapters XXII, XXIII and XXIV of Gibbon. It's great stuff, taking some liberties with the actual historical facts (with added prophetesses of varying accuracy and usefulness) but conveying a rollicking story of the young man, plucked unwillingly from relative obscurity to take on leadership, and equipped with a vision of turning back the adoption of Christianity to restore the old gods. It's a little sketchy in places - all deformed characters seem to be evil, women have a tendency to be peril monkeys with a consequent risk of fridging - but the art is gorgeous and the construction of the story fascinating. I'll certainly be getting other volumes when they come out. (I got the first six in three double "Bundels", which I slightly regret now.)

Here are the second frames of the third pages of each of them (skipping the prose intrductions in most volumes):

(The Alamanni sack Colonia Agrippina/Cologne)
Emperor Constantius: "Attack? My dear boy, why would we do that? We have forced the Persians back across the Euphrates... Victory is already ours!"
Milius: "General Barbatio, my men can start out in pursuit today. If we stay close behind Chnodomar, and our troops are able to join with Caesar Julian's..."
Barbatio: "Then we've got the barbarians in our pincers, a simple and effective strategy, my friend."
Milius: "Primigenia... that's the third time! The driver is really frightened... What is it?"
Primigenia: "It... it's nothing... I had a nightmare... that's all... a nightmare."
Eusebius: "All right. Even drunk and obtuse, the prince is essential. By supporting him we will unbalance the political equilibrium in Armenia..."
Maximus: "And I... I am no more than a humble and simple messenger... and sometimes the mighty gods speak to me at the most unexpected moments!"

Unfortunately only the first three volumes have been translated, and that only to French; an enterprising English-language publishing house could make a real success of this (and several of the other Flemish / Dutch comics hits that I have been reading in the last couple of years).

I picked this as the next non-English-language comic on my pile; plenty more to choose from.

Covers are of the three bundels rather than the six separate albums.

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