Previously: Hadrian’s Wall #5
We have reached the apex of Hadrian’s Wall, the point in every limited series where pieces begin to fall into place and lay the groundwork for what will be its conclusion. We’ve even been given a loose, in-universe time limit of seven hours, and I’m feeling veritably giddy.
Every limited series, as we’ve known Hadrian’s Wall to be from the beginning, inherently comes with a sort of built-in catch-22: you want it to be good, but if it’s too good, you won’t want it to end. Hadrian’s Wall has certainly attained this double-edged blade of quality for me. That’s what you sign up for, though, with series that have a planned end-date. Once you get past that and accept the story is going to end–something which comes easier with each successive limited series–you recognize the liberation provided by knowing when a series is going to conclude, both for the reader and the creators. Hadrian’s Wall #5 is this series’ representation of that liberation. We have two issues left after this–7 and 8–so the dominoes have to start falling. And to paraphrase The A-Team‘s Hannibal: I love seeing a plan come together.
Before the plan can move forward, though, we have to go back. This time, we see Simon of four years ago–he’s grown a scraggly beard, the international symbol for “Some time has passed”–and he’s super-gone. What’s great about these scenes is we’ve seen his relationship with Annabelle deteriorate from issue-to-issue, and we’ve heard about that culminating in Edward shooting Simon. Well, this issue shows us the immediate events which led to that particular moment, and they are revelatory as fuck.
Now, I say Simon was “super-gone” in the flashbacks; that was in reference mostly to his emotional state. As we’ve seen in previous issues, he’s pretty far gone in present-day, too, but it’s more drug-induced, or rather lack thereof. Simon was in absolutely no condition to, say, wrap this series up in two more issues, because his withdrawal had just gotten too bad. This is resolved with a minor deux ex machina moment where Simon is given an unnamed substance which eases his withdrawal symptoms enough for him to function, while not stopping him from hallucinating. I am more than fine with this because I not only love that he is hallucinating Edward but also the fact these hallucinations are presented as black-and-white sketches of Edward in his busted spacesuit.
The plot cup runneth over here, as we also have the developments with Commander Willow and her rebels. There are two things I love about them, as a group, in this issue. First, Selina, whom we previously learned had been working with Edward and the rebels, says something to Tania to really drive home the idea that, like so many rebel factions both fictional and real, they believe what they are doing is for good. Well, at least what Selina thinks they’re doing is; I’m not sure she knows what the plan really is, but maybe? Second, I love how they see themselves as victims, and maybe they are; maybe Earth is royally fucking them over and they’re fighting back. Whatever is really going on, we are bound to find out within the next seven in-universe hours, as that is the time limit we’ve been given; and within two more issues, for the same reason.
The art is wonderful, as always. Rod Reis, the series’ phenomenal artist, had some art help from Eduardo Feritago for this issue, but I was unable to learn what exactly Feritago worked on, or I would directly call something out. Nevertheless, the entire issue is terrifically illustrated, particularly the aforementioned hallucinations. I also want to say I love seeing Commander Willow sitting behind a desk; it’s such an amusing juxtaposition to see her electric character design clash with the doldrums of office space. It’s also interesting to see the disheveled and time-worn Simon sitting across from her and compare him to the clean-shaven, business-clad Simon sitting across from Edward in those warm-colored flashbacks.
The Comm–the series’ letters section–is a little light, once again, this month; it has just three letters, but they’re good ones. There are two things of note to come out of this letters section: we see a great new Drew Struzan, Star Wars-esque cover illustrated by Rod Reis for the Hadrian’s Wall trade paperback, which will be released in August; and Kyle Higgins mentions being at a film festival for his short film The Shadow Hours, which looks great. We’re also treated to a sneak preview for Eternal Empire, a new series from Sarah Vaughn and Jonathan Luna, the creative team behind Alex + Ada. It looks interesting, and it begins next week on May 3.