I love Peplum films…and I also have a great fondness for the NeoPeplum trend that followed behind the release of Caligula in theaters around the world. That film was fine, but give me a Joe D’Amato trash gem like CALIGULA THE UNTOLD STORY anyday. So, I see that Caligula is finally getting a comic book. Can it be what I’d want? Well, then I saw that it was written by David Lapham. I trust the guy. And along with German Nobile he delivered a sleazy, trashy near porn peplum that may not have a huge audience, but I’m certainly part of it!
Caligula #1 introduces us to Junius-a young olive farmer that just happened to be out of his family home when the “God” Caligula happened to blow through his property. Nastiness ensued and his entire family is not merely killed, but violated, desecrated and dismembered. That doesn’t sit well with Junius, and he decides to take revenge. But how? He is neither a warrior nor a special citizen. It is going to take a trip through an earthly hell to get at his prey. Junius is going in and he is going in deep!
Caligula #1 is a very strong set up issue that takes Rome and makes it a combination of Hercules and Hellraiser at equal turns. Click on the samples above and you’ll see a certain Cenobitian quality to the horrors that work as the pillars to the throne of lust that Caligula sits atop. David Lapham has a great way with narration and that runs through much of his work. This issue is no different, the narrative provided by Junius is almost flawless as the reader sees the horrors around him AND feels the utter lack of seeing a way to change or impact the surroundings. But he’ll try and we’ll ride along–because you know that it is going to be a rough and very raw ride for our hero. The covers hint at Gladiator Action (and this Timmy loves some Gladiator movies by the way)–so I guess we know where it is all going because there is nothing of the sort on show here. The ending pulls a nifty twist that doesn’t involve Malcom McDowell screaming naked in the rain-and I didn’t see it coming to be honest with you. Well plotted, well written and attention snatching, I dig this.
The art by newcomer German Nobile is very interesting. I don’t normally go for this style, but he presents some very dynamic images that in many cases are more revolting than I could have expected! I’ll be interested to see how action sequences play out in the next few issues. I can say that I didn’t find his art to feel derivative and he has a very very strong grasp on BIG scenes. When you say CALIGULA #1 I expect everything to be BIG. BIG NASTY. BIG ACTION. BIG VIOLENCE. BIG DRAMA.
Caligula is off to a BIG SEQUENTIAL SLAUGHTERHOUSE with this #1. Check it out!
And because I couldn’t resist… check out this bit that really tells you what to expect. The first panel is the end of a page and the next a beginning to the horror. Excellent! Like a Peplum played raw and rude, Joltin’ Joe D’Amato would be proud. I am. Click to read at a larger size…