Despite a crazy mashup between sci-fi and soccer, the first issue of Rok of the Reds felt a little off, thanks to dated exposition techniques and an unlikeable pseudo-protagonist. Thankfully, the second issue gets a lot more right – and Dan Cornwell’s art continues to be really appealing, having been the high point of issue one.
After morphing into football-playing numpty Kyle Dixon and shrinking the real player down to the size of an action figure (also making him inanimate), on-the-run alien scientist Rok sets about hiding in plain sight on Earth, making a much friendlier Dixon than the real one – but can he maintain the façade to ensure he’s not discovered?
As mentioned, the writing seems to have settled down from the first issue’s awkward exposition. Veteran writers John Wagner and Alan Grant still show a bit of inconsistency – particularly in Rok’s aping of Dixon’s mannerisms and speech patterns, which seems to vary depending on the scene – and his expository thoughts still feel somewhat old-fashioned, but there’s some neat developments that see numerous parties find clues to his real identity that are well handled. The on-pitch football scenes are well done too – even though I’m not a fan of the sport (or many sports, for that matter), these sequences are excellently drawn and written.
There’s a neat cliffhanger that gives a good reason to continue reading the series too; it’ll be fun to see how Rok gets himself out of this particular situation (though it’s likely to be in the same way he stops someone else from uncovering his secret, earlier in this issue). All in all then, a fun read – though not without a few hiccups along the way, it’s definitely not an own goal.
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