Writers John Wagner and Alan Grant are best known for their work on 2000AD’s iconic Lawman of the Future, Judge Dredd – though both have also worked on Batman (not too dissimilar in tone to Mega City One’s infamous lawman) and other projects too. Rok of the Reds, which came out in 2015, is an odd beast though – and something that feels pretty unique: a mash-up of sci-fi and sports comic.
It features an alien – the eponymous Rok – who escapes the destruction of a distant planet and, in an attempt to continue his unspecified work far from those who caused the planet’s demise, happens upon Earth – and a rowdy, arrogant footballer named Kyle Dixon.
It’s a pretty breathlessly paced introduction, with the two differing sides of the story only coming together at the issue’s climax. With Dixon being such an insufferably unlikeable asshole, it’s initially difficult to see how we’re going to enjoy his part in the proceedings – but by the end it’s obvious how this can be turned around. Dan Cornwell’s art is great, equally adept at giving us alien environments and creatures as it is at showing the more mundane, Earthbound action on and off the football pitch. The colouring – by Abigail Ryder – is excellent throughout too.
Yet the writing is a bit weak, despite the unique, daft-but-fun setup. It’s full of old fashioned touches like expository narration and characters thinking in long thoughts that give us even more exposition in a bit of a clumsy manner, but the story itself is intriguing enough that I do want to see how it unfolds. With six issues comprising the series, it’ll be interesting to see if the initial problems with the writing are ironed out once the exposition is out of the way.
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