Previously: Hadrian’s Wall #7
June’s issue #7 infused a welcome dose of action into this series, but Hadrian’s Wall is ultimately a slow burn; more Alien than Aliens. After our two-month wait, issue #8 spends its 31 pages just letting you stew in its intensity. Oh, but it’s also very cold, so it’s kind of a gazpacho. I don’t like gazpacho, but I love this gazpacho.
The previous issue left our crew–what remained of it–at the lesson end of Commander Willow’s callous allegorical act. She really wanted them to learn what her planet, Theta, feels like as it slowly dies under Earth’s rule, and boy do they sure experience one hell of a morality tale here.
First, let’s tackle the terrific plot which, in itself, has acted as a handy metaphor against the often difficult and painful experience of ending a relationship. We’ve seen this play out with Theta rebelling against Earth and in how that mirrors what the series’ two main characters have felt, as we watched their own relationship flourish, then wither, and then live on in only ghosts and shadows of what once was; haunting the both of them in each of their respective times since their separation.
To this point, Hadrian’s Wall has handled this universal experience in as human a way as possible. Those two characters of Simon and Annabelle hated each other–or resented each other, more like–when the series began. In the previous issue, we got to see Simon and Annabelle reconcile (if only in opposition to a common enemy) and show just how effective they are as a team; together. Here, in the final issue, they have been placed into a life-threatening situation that forces–or allows–them to fully address where they are with each other. It’s a wonderful conclusion to their story together.
Second, the artwork. Oh, boy, the artwork. I’ve made no secret of the fact Rod Reis is my favorite artist working in comics today. I adore every panel he and Eduardo Ferigato have put forth in this series, and this issue brings it all together. I talked previously about how cold the palette on the ship is and how that seemed to be deliberately in contrast with the warm colors of Simon’s happier past. As the series has gone on and the relationship between Simon and Annabelle has slowly defrosted, we’ve seen some warmer colors creep into their scenes together.
I’m still not certain this was entirely intentional, and I would hate to place assumptions on an artist’s work, but I also refuse to accept the notion that it’s an accident this issue is almost entirely blue (because the ship’s life support systems have failed and everything is freezing) and the lone bright spot just happens to show up in a scene where Simon and Annabelle are having a chat. I enjoy this world I’ve created, and I’m not giving it up… unless Reis himself says I’m completely wrong.
The series has now concluded, and it does not feel like as much of an open ending as that of the creative team’s previous series C.O.W.L.. It’s just as satisfying, but C.O.W.L. seemed like it could have a future if Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel, and Rod Reis decided to revisit it. Hadrian’s Wall, on the other hand, seems like it had its story to tell and told it. I’m alright with that; you have to know when to move on.
As Higgins mentions in this issue’s back matter, the trade paperback for Hadrian’s Wall will be available on September 27, 2017. If you have not read the series, and I try to keep these reviews relatively spoiler-free by focusing more on the execution than the specific plot, I highly recommend picking it up. Then we can all wait for whatever comes next from Higgins, Siegel, and Reis.