Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (Caligula) is the heir to soon become the Emperor of Rome. However, he is living in a perpetual state of paranoia, what with the senile and distrustful Tiberius having already killed the rest of his family. Kelly tells a dramatic tale of history, violence, sexual fluidity, and the human condition as we explore the insanity that is Caligula.
I’m going to start off by saying that I don’t know the complete history of Caligula, so some of the references in this book were hard to get—until I realized that Kelly gave us all the details for each reference by page number. I went back and read the book again, this time with ease. There are jumps in time, which is a bit confusing, but pretty easy to keep up with by the second or third read.
Beyond the occasional confusion of the script, Kelly gives us an incredibly intricate account of Roman history. Within this account, we see tragedy, incest, insanity, murder, etc. Kelly isn’t afraid to go into detail about the harsh truths of Caligula’s life. We get one Hell of a trip into the human psyche through an incredible history lesson—one I actually want to pay attention to!
Caligula faced epilepsy, attacks, irrationality, delusions, paranoia, and so much more. We haven’t gotten to see all too much of Caligula’s insanity (just sadness, nightmares, and a bit of paranoia), but I’m hoping volume two shows all of it.
Kelly’s writing style is a mix of dialogue and caption boxes to help make things a bit easier for us readers to understand. The dialogue is smooth and flows seamlessly through a script that is both interesting and entertaining. Of course, this seamlessness couldn’t have quite the same effect if it were not for Christie Shinn’s artwork.
Shinn’s illustrations are, in a word, EPIC. She uses really bold, thick line weights to outline her characters and their actions. A lot of the artwork has an angular base to it, keeping a dramatic tone to make the “insanity” part of the storyline really come through. Despite a deliberate lack of realism, the characters are still able to show a ton of emotion through facial expressions.
This volume is the start to what I expect to be an incredibly emotional series. Kelly’s historically fueled script mixed with Shinn’s emotional artwork makes for some really entertaining reading. I strongly suggest you give this book a few reads. You won’t be disappointed.
Written by: James Kelly
Illustrated by: Christie Shinn