I’m glad to see the alternate-history story of Cassius continuing, but I fear we’ve reached a point where my lack of knowledge of the time of Julius Caesar (either the play or the real history) is going to get in my way. There are enough characters and plotting that I would prefer to read such material in larger chunks — which any independent publisher hates to hear, because they can only produce smaller issues intermittently. The more people wait, the less likely a longer work becomes.
Still, I had trouble caring about why various characters were worried about coming events and who was conspiring with whom. This is very much a setup issue, putting people in place for future happenings as they mutter to each other about their plans and yell at each other about the character’s death in issue #1. Once more of the story is revealed, re-reading this section will likely point out more details to the reader, but for now, for me, it felt as though nothing much happened — because I don’t yet know the significance of these actions or half these characters.
Cassius #2 also has an art team change — former artist Ann Uland provides the cover and layouts, but internal art has been taken over by Catherine Batka. (Emily Willis continues writing.) The visual style isn’t significantly different, although reading the two issues together will demonstrate the change. Batka doesn’t use as strong an ink line, which might please some readers more. Either way, I could tell what the characters were doing and tell them apart.
Much of the book’s audience, as I understand the marketing, comes from those looking for LBTGQ comic content, as several of the characters are homosexual or genderqueer. That’s not visible so much yet on the page, though, as it is in the creators’ promotion. It’s tricky — you don’t want characters that foreground those traits, but those for whom it’s just part of their overall makeup. That can make it difficult for the non-clued-in reader to realize what the creators are aiming for with particular characters, particularly those who may be trans. At the same time, that audience is an underserved market, and they likely have more patience waiting for the story to develop than I do, being willing to support the book just for existing.
Cassius #2 can be purchased from the publisher, Arbitrary Muse Comics, in either print ($5 plus shipping) or digital ($3) format. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)