Review by John Freeman
Script: John Wagner & Alan Grant
Art & Cover: Dan Cornwell
Colours: Abby Bulmer & Jim Boswell
Lettering & Design: Jim Campbell
The Book: The story so far… Fleeing deadly assassins Rok of the Arkady, an alien with near-magical powers, seeks refuge on Planet Earth. There he assumes the identity of the first human he encounters —footballer Kyle Dixon.
Masquerading as Dixon, Rok unexpectedly finds himself developing a strange and all-consuming love for ‘the beautiful game ’, leading lowly Radford Reds on a sensational Cup run. But at the Cup Final the assassins finally catch up with him.
Now the final is over and the new season has begun. Though the assassins have been vanquished, there are new and more terrifying dangers ahead for the big
The Review: Who knew a mash up of The Beautiful Game and galaxy-spanning alien skulldugery and heroism could be so much fun? Well, clearly, the creators of Rok of the Reds and now Rok the God – Alan Grant, John Wagner and Dan Cornwell.
Because Rok the God, the latest crowdfunded chapter in the Rok of Arkady saga, is great fun, skilfully blending the themes of an aspiring football team, very much down on its luck, with a (sort of) alien invasion with a twist. This is a one alien operation, it’s undercover and it’s all quite friendly… unless you make him angry.
Given the team involved, it’s hardly surprising Rok the God is such a delight of course – after all, Alan and John did bring us a similar kind of shape-changing alien intruder once before, Doomlord, for New Eagle. But Rok the God really runs with the concept, taking it into new and unique territory.
As Rok deals with problems both on and off the football pitch, both on Earth and on Arkady, the story throws in miniaturised humans, a devious new club owner, devious alien conspirators and bloodthirsty assassin monsters, just for good measure. We even get a powerful AI that likes a bit of football action, too.
What you didn’t get in “Doomlord” is the kind of gentle but appreciated character building because the intensity of a weekly action strip never really afforded the opportunity. Like Rok of the Reds before it, Rok the God delivers not only a great central character, sometimes struggling with the demands put upon him by alien and human alike, but a great supporting cast you actually care about, be they landlady or son, or even the aggrieved but still idiotic Kyle Dixon, who Rok replaced on the pitch.
With terrific art from Dan Cornwell – I particularly enjoyed the page where Rok gets his god-like powers, for example, but he’s as adept at delivering football action as he is drawing Massimo Belardinelli-inspired monsters.
I should also add that for those of you who are looking for a graphic novel for younger readers, in their early teens, say, then there is nothing, in my view, that should bar then from picking this up and enjoying it from cover to cover. Yes, there’s plenty of drama and a few shocking scenes – most involving Rok of the Arkady – but there’s none of the blood and gore you might find, say, in 2000AD. A great “entry point” kind of tale we need more of.
Rok the God is a genuine treat. If you enjoyed Rok of the Reds, then this its sequel is well worth a look. I’m glad I backed it!
Rok of the Reds © 2020 The Rok Team