The first volume John Wagner and Allan Grant’s Rok Of The Reds saga was like ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers meets Roy of the Rovers’ and was rightly praised for it’s endlessly entertaining mix of sport and sci-fi. But will new volume, Rok The God, help raise this series to god-like new heights?
Publisher: Rok Comics
Writer: John Wagner, Alan Gran
Artist: Dan Cornwell
Price: £10 digital and £19.99 from the Rok Of The Reds Online Store
In Rok of the Reds, alien overlord Rok, came to earth and took over the body of wayward striker Kyle Dixon of Radford Reds. In doing so helped his team to success while also discovering more about himself (as well as fighting off alien bounty hunters). It was genuinely one of the best British books of the last few years and is one which has a timeless quality to it that means it has something for comic fans of all ages and taste – whether you like football or not!!
In this new volume, Rok is summoned back to his home world and required to take on the role of supreme god like ruler of the universe from his mother. In doing so he sets himself up with a bunch of new intergalactic enemies, and also leaves his Earthly team mates in a dilemma as they surge for promotion.
Once again this is a really wonderful read, packed full of imagination, invention and plenty of action. It’s such a strong concept that Wagner and Grant can cherry pick the best tropes from each genre to create a really compelling story. Plus, when you have the track record of these two, then you know it is all going to be managed incredibly adeptly and they don’t disappoint!
Inevitably with a sequel the scale of everything is taken up a notch and there is definitely more of a sci-fi emphasis on this one (especially in the first half) as Rok travels throughout the galaxy. For us personally we prefer the more grounded sports/Earth based action and so we struggled with these opening chapters, but it soon returns to the pitch and the second half is much more rewarding. (So it’s a book of two halves if you like!!)
It’s not all space opera though and along with trial and tribulations of match day there is also a sub plot involving the real Kyle Dixon and a corrupt ref who have both been miniaturised and held hostage by Rok. Along with some off field drama involving new owners for the Reds, this helps to fill out this volume and keep things ticking along while Rok is in space. However at times it can take over the story a bit too much. However, it does at least provide the majority of the laugh out loud moments for the book, and so is a nice counter point to all the intergalactic space chicanery and on field action.
Visually it continues to be a tour de force from artist Dan Cornwell, while the first issue was enough to earn him a job on the Prog, this one continues that rise to stardom, as he is given more ambitious and epic characters, space-scapes and technology to bring to life. He does this superbly. His artwork has such as classic feel to it, but it also has a real confidence to it. Dan knows the character well by now and handles the sport and sci fi equally well, managing to give the space scenes that epic grandeur and the sports scenes the vibrancy and motion they require.
In short there’s simply not enough positive things that we can say about Rok. This is a book where all the players know their roles and are putting together match winning performance after match winning performance. A bit like Radford Reds themselves, Rok has gone from being a plucky under dog to a championship contender, and surely the sky is the limit for this champion team!