Beyond the Wall
Written by Matt Venne. Art by Gordon Purcell.
In the face of profound betrayal, a soldier chooses honor over loyalty in Beyond the Wall, a tale in which supernatural creatures haunt the edges of the Roman Empire and the search for redemption means battling monsters, barbarians and even your own countrymen.
It’s the Third Century A.D. and the Roman army at Hadrian’s Wall defends Britain from the barbarians and mythical beasts to the north. Centurion of the guards Marcus Malleolus is just two weeks from retirement and already making plans for the luxuries befitting his 25 years of service to the Empire. But these are about to be the longest 2 weeks of his career.
Caracalla, son of the Emperor, murders his brother to secure his succession to the throne and blames the death on a barbarian assassin. Blamed for the wall breach that lead to the death of the Emperor’s son, the soldiers at the wall are sentenced to the barbaric punishment decimation, where one of every ten soldiers is chosen by lot and beaten to death by the other nine.
When a young conscript, Gaius Catulus, draws the short straw, Marcus cannot allow the innocent boy to die. He shields Gaius from harm and escapes with him over the wall into the wilds of the north. Their aim is to escape through the port of Antonine’s Wall before news of their exile can reach it.
But the land beyond the wall is full of equally barbaric surprises and the fugitives are caught up in the trap of the warrior Brynna who stalks the wilds, hoping to claim a Roman scalp and earn her place among her people. But before Brynna can claim her bounty, the Praetorian Guard catches up. In a three-way battle, Brynna fights the Roman soldiers as one enemy but when Marcus spots a demon behind her, he swiftly kills it earning her trust. Together they battle back the Guard and she agrees to lead them through the monster-infested woods to Antonine’s Wall.
Along their journey, they come upon a suspiciously empty Pict village. In this abandoned village, they find a horde of Roman coins — but with Caracalla’s face in place of the Emperor. They soon learn that Caracalla has paid the village, and possibly others, to march on the weakened wall. Marcus must then decide between continuing their escape, or heading back to the wall to warn the Empire of the impending attack.