Finger on the pulse again,Luke decides that the time is right to publish a review of a mini series that finished a few months ago. Having already reviewed issue 1 a year ago, Luke returns to review the complete run and chooses to skip the football jokes.
Rok of The Reds 1-6
By John Wagner, Alan Grant, Dan Cornwell, Abby Bulmer & Jim Campbell
Review by Luke Williams
Would it be fair to say that this was a story from the Wagner/Grant idea file that has had problems finding a home? Yeah, probably, but can’t say for sure.
Black Hearted Press (how cool is that a for a name for a publisher?) to the rescue.
So, quick summary. Rok is a member of the Arkadii, an alien race from whom he is on the run. Every planet that became refuge to our hero has been destroyed, he however, has managed to escape by the skin of his very alien teeth.
Rok, escapes to a primitive, backwater, mudball called Earth. He encounters Kyle Dixon, football player extraordinaire, drunken bum and obnoxious lout.
With a talent matched only by his twatishness, Kyle has allowed his “personality” to get in the way and his star is on the wane. Finding himself playing for the lowly Radford Reds, Kyle endears himself to the rest of his team members. If he isn’t sacked he will be lynched.
After a a series of incidents involving team members, bars and scantily clad ladies, Kyle drunkenly drives to a secluded spot in Radford and comes across Rok. Rok senses an opportunity to hide himself on Earth and absorbs Kyle’s persona (if one can call it that) and morphs his physical appearance to match Kyle’s to take his place. A shrunken Kyle is stored safely away (we’re not losing the modern equivalent of Alexander Fleming), and Rok assumes the role of our fitful footballing fool.
The rejuvenated”Kyle” gets another chance with the Reds. Assumed at first to be the same arsehole he always was, “Kyle” redeems himself, the team’s fortunes are revitalised and they move through the rounds of the FA cup final.
In the meantime, Rok/Kyle has been staying with a local family. The young Radford fan in that family had suspicions that this was not the Kyle he knew, for a start he was quite pleasant, and discovers that he is an alien impostor.
But Rok’s Arkadii family are catching up with him, and the Earth may suffer as a result.
This wouldn’t have fitted into 2000ad or the Megazine which probably would have been the first place you would have thought it would have been offered, nor would it have fitted in with Dark Horse or Image – being far too “British” in tone, a hard sell to the yanks. If I’m being honest,it wouldn’t have appealed to me initially neither, I’m no football fan, but Wagner and Grant always attract my attention. This is nice and gentle, or as gentle as Wagner and Grant get. It hasn’t got the sardonic edge of their other work, and is light years away from work such as the “Last American”, Judge Dredd or even Strontium Dog. Whilst not all ages, it isn’t far off. Young adult? Teen?
But that’s not to say it is dull. Far from it. Re reading the whole run I found myself drawn into it. Essentially it’s a mash up of the 80’s revived Eagle’s “Doomlord” and “Roy of the Rovers” / “Gorgeous Gus” (fill in any other British football strip here). Fun, light and fluffy. What’s not to like? Essential? No, but worth a read? Hell yes. Nostalgic, and a throwback to the last phase of British newsstand comics.
Dan Cornwell has a lovely, robust, cartoony line. Nice clear story telling and identifiable characters. I’ve heard he is up to do a Dredd. I’m looking forward to that one.
John Wagner and Dan Cornwell are working hard at promoting it, their latest appearance will be at Geek Fest, Newport this weekend:
Not groundbreaking, but engaging, old fashioned, fun.
You know. Comics.