What would happen if the Catholic Church sent a team of time-traveling mercenaries to 4th Century Rome with the aim of changing history to prevent the rise of any other religion? Find out in the new series Pax Romana from comic creator Jonathan Hickman, whose setup seems intended intended to get notice via controversy as much as for its story or unusual graphic style. Find out what's behind the attempt to outrage under the jump.
When asked to describe the plot of his new four-part series, Hickman gives the following plot summary:
[The Catholic Church] sends an army back in time to pretty much conquer the world and set up a theocracy. They send everyone back in time to around 312 or 313 A.D., when Constantine was the first Christian emperor in the Roman Empire. And everything goes wrong.
There's more to it than just that marriage of Catholics to Michael Crichton's Timeline, however; telling the story in a visually-arresting mix of watercolors, line graphics and type, Hickman creates a comic that's unlike anything else available right now in both look and feel. Admitting an influence from Dune's Frank Herbert, Hickman's plotting goes far beyond these initial four issues: Once the time-traveling soldiers settle down and start to raise families with 4th Century Romans, it's the start of an alternate history familial epic that could run as many as twelve additional series if the audience wants it:
The model that I'm using is kind of like what [Mike] Mignola's doing with Hellboy, where there are finite series that are about one event that's going on. It's a tapestry kind of thing where you can go back and tell a couple of different types of stories every year that are built against a larger mythology. I probably have 12 other stories planned out, 12 other miniseries that I could do. We'll just have to wait and see if people like the first one!
In order to help people like the first one, Hickman has made the complete first chapter available on his website. Go, read, and if you like it, the second issue hit comic stores yesterday.
Pax Romana [Pronea.com]