In the Russia of the 27th century, the mercurial rogue Nikolai Dante is forced by circumstances to work once more for his family's greatest foe (and his own former employer) Tsar Vladmir. But just how long can he put up with the Tsar's merciless ways, ways which frequently reveal him to be no better than Dante's vanquished father Dmitri Romanov? And if Dante doesn't like it... what's he going to do about it? These are the questions posed in this latest volume of the Russian rascal's adventures, which take him all the way from Tsarist Amerika, where both old foes and allies resurface, and into a completely new role, one liable to impact on the whole nation, and indeed the world. You say you want a revolution? Keep reading, you just might get one.
When Nikolai Dante charged fully-formed into the pages of 2000AD back in 1997, he rapidly became an ongoing hit the likes of which the comic hadn't seen since its `classic' era. `Amerika' shows you why, and a big part of this is down to the art of Dante co-creator Simon Fraser. The volume is primarily split, as Dante has been in recent years, between the work of Fraser and painterly veteran John Burns (though Paul Marshall is on artistic duties for `Lulu's War', in which Dante's horrid half-sister is given a run for her money by Imperial vampires.) While there is absolutely no doubt that Burns is talented beyond belief and rightly lauded by a large proportion of Dante fans, for me, Fraser's Nikolai is THE Nikolai. One of Fraser's greatest talents is his ability to illustrate astonishingly panoramic cityscapes, and the opening of `Amerika' certainly reinforces that. You could get lost in Si Fraser's scenery, and you'd be thankful for it, given the delightfully characterful and distinctive figures you'd encounter on the way (including a few cheeky nods to Captain America, the Fantastic Four, and the cast of `Watchmen'.) Of course, Fraser's command of action sequences is no less potent, so rest assured that this volume is full of the hyper-kinetic, virile, swashbuckling vigour that has become the strip's trademark.
Writer Robbie Morrison, meanwhile, continues to chart Dante's exploits with humour, pathos, excitement and as many jaw-dropping set-pieces as any strip could ask for. Dante's reaction to the Tsar's decisive response to the Amerikan insurgence will go down as one of the great moments in the series, but quieter, more introspective scenes, such as a war-weary Dante gazing at a grinning pin-up poster of his younger self can also pack a punch. This serves to highlight the strip's true strength - its world and characters grow and evolve organically, remaining recognisable but gaining depth throughout the run.
In short then, a hugely recommended and vital segment of the series which scores on pretty much on every level. Dante may now be too old to be cool - but the strip is too cool to ever grow old.
Nikolai Dante took an old-style character and breathed new life into it. The writing has been consistently strong, with even the weaker stories being entertaining, and the overall story arc builds gradually towards its inevitable conclusion. Once read, you realise just how cinematic this character and storyline feels, and I feel Hollywood would be missing a trick to ignore such rich source material, although I suspect the setting of a future where Russia has conquered the globe might scare off the executives, which would be a shame.
This volume fleshes out some of the world that Nikolai lives him, and shows him at his broody best, leading towards a climax those familiar with the mythos will be expecting, but still shocks all the same. Whilst not the strongest story in the series (Tsar Wars still ranks as the best with myself), it is nonetheless strong and entertaining. That said, it's not the best place for a new reader to start, and I would recommend new readers to work their way through the volumes.
As the title suggests the overall feeling for this book is good and if you have been following Dante story line then this is a good one, the only problem is that in my copy certainly I hope someone will correct me if wrong but at beginning of the "An army of thieves and whores" chapter their was some pages missing which i know isn't that serious but it is just annoying!! Like i say all good except that.