In Review: Rok the God

Rok the God - Cover

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
red alien…

Rok's uncle turns up with a plea from his Mum...
Rok’s uncle turns up with a plea from his Mum…

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.

The trouble for a miniaturised Kyle Dixon - the real Kyle Dixon - doesn't stop coming through the story - and it's brilliantly told, in script and art
The trouble for a miniaturised Kyle Dixon – the real Kyle Dixon – doesn’t stop coming through the story – and it’s brilliantly told, in script and art

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.

Thank goodness Rok's Mum didn't ask him to explain the offside rule
Thank goodness Rok’s Mum didn’t ask him to explain the offside rule
An AI that likes football. Only Alan Grant and John Wagner could surely have come up with that!
An AI that likes football. Only Alan Grant and John Wagner could surely have come up with that!
One of several smashing "character moments" scattered through Rok the God I particularly enjoyed
One of several smashing “character moments” scattered through Rok the God I particularly enjoyed

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.

Football action from Dan Cornwell worth of any of the classic weekly sports-driven comics of yesteryear
Football action from Dan Cornwell worth of any of the classic weekly sports-driven comics of yesteryear

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!

John Freeman

Buy Rok the God and much more from www.rokofthereds.com | Find Rok of the Reds on Facebook | Follow Rok of the Reds on Twitter @RedsRok

Rok of the Reds © 2020 The Rok Team

Avatar

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



Categories: British Comics, British Comics - Books, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Features, Reviews

Tags: , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: