A 1963 book by Stan Lee.
Let’s get one thing straight; once you see the title on this new comic series by horror writer David Lapham with art by German Nobile you should know right away that “Caligula” is not for the faint of heart nor for those easily offended. Avatar Press has always pushed the envelope with series such as “Night of the Living Dead” and “Crossed”. With all the mediocre comic book movies and the seemingly rehashed plotting in comics’ Big Two” I continue to search for something very different. What I found is the horror interpretation of the story of Rome’s most despicable emperor rightfully marked as “NC-18” and is fit to be reviewed under the “Beyond the Printed Page: Comics and Films“ banner. (the founder was asking me which horror series I was talking about)
The story is narrated by Junius whose family has been massacred by the entourage of Caesar Augustus Germanicus…Caligula. Shocked beyond description and traumatized by what he has seen, he plans for vengeance. Stooping to steps that may be questionable to the moral man, but Junius is driven by the need to avenge. But on the evening that he may be on the verged of fulfilling his goal, in Caligula’s place, something evil may be more at work….
Please keep in mind that this is a series and is meant to portray the depraved and despicable behavior of Rome’s most infamous emperor. Horror writer David Lapham seems to be the right man for the job, as those familiar with his work with “Crossed” would know what he is capable of. He never relents to expose the fact that Caligula was an emperor drunk with power and Lapham is indeed the writer to bring forth Caligula‘s depraved, barbaric behavior in comic book form.
“Caligula” is a freaking bloodbath and Lapham and Nobile shows the details of his madness in graphic form. Together, the two bring forth a stylish comic, yet it is dark, very mature and truly flawless in the delivery of its brutality. The violence and depraved behavior is portrayed through the eyes of Junius, and the details of the bloody murder of his family is in full graphic display. One small fault I did observe though I do like the writing was the use of certain words that didn’t apply to the age of Rome (I mean apartment should be lounging or something else). The art by Nobile exposes this horror and goes forth to show a headless, bloody, beaten naked body of a woman, a well with severed heads, and scenes of orgy within the confines of Caligula’s palace. There is a lot of nudity, sexual abuse and hinted at sex within this comic (even bestiality); yes, it can be offensive, but the actions of Caligula were truly depraved and utterly sadistic even for this day and age.
Ok, I have to admit, this comic fucking grabbed me. At first, I thought that the comic was just going to be one of those exploitive series that was aimed for shock value, but it also comes out with an interesting and surprising twist at the end which motivated me to buy the next issue. It was a refreshing take on the image of Caligula and is a step above the cheap marketing ploys done by Marvel and DC these days. It was surprisingly bold, incredibly real that it exposes the potentials for truly depraved behavior by humans who see themselves as ‘civilized’. “Caligula” is a comic that goes beyond the usual expectations, it is packed with a lot of barbaric detail and it made me do an evil smile. The comic is about mankind at its most insane; filled with orgies, atrocities and glorified blood and gore. I cannot recommend it to everyone, and not for those clinging to the idea that comics need to be for “PG”.
So, you want me to make an issue per issue review of this 6-issue mini-series? Please let me know.
[4 Out of 5 Stars]
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A 1963 book by Stan Lee.
Comic Book/Graphic Novel