If you thought football related comics were past their prime the minute Roy of the Rovers hung up his boots, then it’s time to think again as 2000 AD legends John Wagner and Alan Grant have brought fresh legs to this comic book staple with new series Rok of the Reds, that mixes soccer and spaceships to create a quintessentially British comic adventure that is sure to go to extra time!
Publisher: BHP Comics
Writer: John Wagner, Alan Grant
Artist: Dan Cornwell
Price: £18.99 from Amazon
After escaping from an exploding planet and on the run from his home world, the titular Rok crash lands on earth and assumes the body of the first human he encounters – who just happens to be a petulant footballer named Kyle Dixon (who is in the midst of a drunken bender after being sacked by his club Radford Reds for not being a team player!). As Rok needs to recoup his energy in order to maintain this illusion, Rok decides to lie low and assimilate himself into earth society. He attempts to do this by making the most of Kyle’s sporting abilities and learnig about the beautiful game. But because Kyle is a stroppy under-achiever, this means Rok unintentionally helps him live up to his potential and things begin to pick up for him and his team mates!
However, with sporting success comes unexpected attention, which makes it harder for Rok to keep his identity a secret. As well as hiding from snoopy journalists and inquisitive kids, he also gets hunted down by some Executors from his home world. But will it stop him from winning the big match for the Reds?!
Even if you’re not a massive football fan, Rok of The Reds is a great all ages read, that is a really nice flashback to those classic sporting tales of old. It’s really unfussy with a very clear and predictable storyline that is not trying to be anything overly clever and sophisticated – but it is this simplicity which makes it so much fun and a great read. With it being written by the creators of Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog you might expect it to be gritty and edgy and violent, but Grant and Wagner avoid this preconception and seem to be really enjoying writing something that’s just a bit of good old fashioned fun. It’s perfect for both kids and grown ups, as there is enough edge to make it interesting, but it’s not condescending or boring either.
The art from Dan Cornwell also gives it a really solid and classic feel, with a very polished 2000 AD feel to it, that reminded us of classic art droids like PJ Holden. He manages to perfectly balance exploding planets and intergalactic spaceships with edge of the seat sporting action, and has created a fantastic and eye catching lead with Rok.
With British comics lacking a strong identity outside of the world of Dredd and Tharg, Rok of The Reds is a fantastic reminder of just how great a classic British style comic can be and makes for a fantastic star player for up and coming publisher BHP Comics.