Review: Rob Jackson’s Slaves Of The Megapode – Volume I
By Rob Jackson
Rob Jackson keeps on switching things around, continually switching genres for his next thing, this latest a historical tome, “An Octavian Columbas Adventure“, set somewhere remote, maybe ancient Britain, definitely during Roman times. It’s a murder mystery of sorts, perhaps Jackson’s very own version of something akin to Eco’s “The Name Of The Rose“. Maybe.
Second page and it’s already doing the thing I do rather enjoy with Jackson’s comics, the comedic tone, deliberately somewhat at odds with the setting of the story. Our very first meeting of Octavian Columbus, and his slave Quinceps…
It’s the little moments, looking at Quinceps, Columbus’ deadpan retort to the Centurion, “Thanks for the offer Centurion, but we’d better get to work…“. Yep, that’s the humour I’ve come to enjoy and somewhat expect from Jackson.
Columbus is here to investigate some strange going-ons at the camp, patrols vanishing, the governor dropping dead just the other week, all the usual methods of investigation exhausted….
“My men picked up the local suspicious characters. I tried crucifying them, I tried not crucifying them. They said nothing. I’m at my wits end”.
Oh yes, rigorous. So off the pair go, investigating in their own unique fashion, Quinceps remarkably talented, autopsies without leaving a mark a speciality, whereas Columbas is more the thinker, not content with the ever so convenient resolution to the Governors death. Heading out of camp on a hunch leads to a showdown with some very crazed barbarians, looking a little Pictish, the trail back into camp, unusual drugs, another death, ominous talk of “The Megapode”, disguises, undercover work, more unusual drugs, more about “The Megapode”…. all very mysterious, all very well done.
So, great start. Jackson’s work is the absolute definitive proof to my mind of the power of well done storytelling. No matter how good the art is, if the storytelling doesn’t sell the story, if the flow and pace of the work isn’t right, everything falls apart. Jackson’s art is hardly what you would call refined, but that’s almost immaterial to the enjoyment within the pages. Everything works, it all makes sense, the mystery is mysterious, the adventure thrilling, the humour humorous, and the storytelling ties it all together.
But the thing that makes Slaves Of The Megapode work so well is the Roman double act of Columbus and Quinceps:
“Did you ever come across tales of such a substance in your education?”
“It reminds me of the story of the Lous Eaters, told by the Greeks.”
“And does that end happily?”
“Not really. Everyone dies.”
“Well, that’s the Greeks for you. Miserable lot.”
Boom tish. Great lines a plenty throughout. Roll on issue 2.
You can get hold of Slaves Of The Megapode from Rob Jackson at his website.