cover image Conquest: Julius Caesar’s Gallic War

Conquest: Julius Caesar’s Gallic War

Tarek and Vincent Pompetti, trans. from the French by Cecile Bohard and Andrew Benteau. Black Panel, $34.99 (136p) ISBN 978-1-7751015-4-3

This overstuffed graphic novel adaptation of Julius Caesar’s Commentarii de Bello Gallico (The Gallic War) from French cartoonists Tarek (The Adventures of the Mad Tsar) and Pompetti (Constellation) hews closely to the historical record but quickly loses momentum. In 58 BCE, Caesar maneuvers his Roman troops into Celtic Gaul to cut off the migration of the Germanic Helvetii tribes, then pivots to full-scale invasion. As Caesar alienates both the Gaulish king Vercingetorix and the Roman Senate, his battle becomes personal—leading to his sweep and “slaughter” of the territory. Fictionalized characters such as the winsome, “fiery” Gallic spy Eponine (“damned female” as a flirty soldier calls her) wind through the decade-spanning chronicle of campaigns and espionage. Many scenes are talking heads punctuated by generic battles, with text-heavy captions of fluctuating-size typeface. True to the actual history, events are often messy in cause and effect—the accompanying synopsis and character guide provide a crucial assist. Painterly art by Pompetti impresses on the battlefield but feels static in character design. Readers will likely feel defeated by this dense and exhaustive account long before the fall of the Gauls. (Feb.)