Written by David Page
Эписоде 1: The Adventures of Nikolai Dante Progs 1035-1041
In the year of the Tsar 2666 AD, Imperial Russia once again entered a time of troubles. The rule of Vladimir the conqueror, Tsar of all the Russias, had been unopposed for centuries. Now it was being challenged by the house of Romanov, the most powerful imperial dynasty beside the Tsars own.
Warfare on such a scale had not been contemplated since the last revolution, from which the Mafiya clans rose to power. On the ashes of that conflict, they founded a new empire based upon the underworld principles of the ancient Vorovskoi Mir- the Thieves world.
In such a world, a single man could rise to prominence if he was a fool and an adventurer, a gambling man whose only stake was his life. Of course, this could only happen if he survived long enough and didn’t get his throat slit in the boudoir of some lady of dubious morals first…
Story: the Tsars forces capture Nikolai Dante after stealing the dress of a Tsar Seductress. Spared a terrible fate by the revelation he is a bastard son of the rival Romanov family he is press ganged into the ravens corps much to the annoyance of the Tsars Daughter Jena. They investigate a crashed Romanov ship and face a security system that brands Dante with a strange crest. Before they can deal with this however two members of the Romanov family attack Dante and Jena. After a fierce battle the twin Romanov’s are killed and Dante sneakily kisses a shocked Jena. He is then arrested…
Nikolai Dante, our hero
Crest: Our heroes long suffering sidekick. The crest takes the form of a tattoo on Dantes shoulder. Its functions will be discussed in a future episode.
Jena Markarov: Our reluctant (at first) love interest
The Tsar: A nasty piece of work. He rules Russia with an iron fist
Count Pyre: An even nastier piece of work. Commander of the Scarlet Wraithes
The Imperial Palace: A floating Faberge egg. The home and headquarters of the Tsar.
Unnamed Arbatov: See below
Aleksandr and Aleksandra Romanov: The first Romanovs we meet other than Dante. They are twins who love each other a little bit too much. Their crests allow them to regenerate from injuries and become one in a monstrous form. Dante kills them while stuck in this form.
Foreshadowing: Katarina Dante is mentioned as being Nikolais mother who abandoned him in a nunnery when he was a kid. Katarina shows up as a major character during the series second act and the event itself is also later depicted.
Nikolai is bonded with a Romanov crest. Revealing that his father was a Romanov. The full horrid details are revealed in the next story.
The first major running gag is established this story as an Arbatov dies in a horrid way due to Dantes meddling.
Arbatov Kill count:
1, Skinned alive as punishment for using a tsar seductress while romancing Jena. His indrescretions were brought to light by Nikolai Dante igniting an ongoing feud…
Dante’s kill count:
2, The Romanov twins fall under Dantes blade.
Dante’s lay count
1: The very first scene of the series has him bedding a Tsar Seductress. The very same one Arbatov was seeing.
David’s final notes:
The Adventures of Nikolai Dante get off to a great start. The setting is established, our Russian rogue is not a typical 2000ad hero in the course of seven parts he has seduced a seductress, stolen a very expensive dress from said seductress. Inadvertently brought doom to several tsar soldiers and managed to piss off two rival conquering families.
What makes me sad and I will likely get flak for even suggesting this but Simon Frasers art…just isn’t all that good in this first story. The colour is murky and his actual art is very sketchy and unlike the fantastic stuff he would produce later on in the series. There is a gradual improvement starting from the very next story. Do not get me wrong I love his art but this just isn’t up to par with his later stuff.
Heres an extra bonus. The original introduction page from his first appearance. It was clearly written in mind for the series original name. I do wonder what became of the “optioned” movie though…
Next: Nikolai Dante meets The Romanov family proper…
You can check out more of David’s 2000AD related reviews over on his website