Review – The Rook #1 (Dark Horse Comics)

RookPublisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Steven Grant
Artist: Paul Gulacy
Release Date: 21st October 2015

I didn’t know this, but maybe you did; as a comic character The Rook is no spring chicken and he’s been in and out of print for the last 38 years. Yep, he’s as old as Star Wars!

This first issue of a 4 part limited series sets out to be an origin/mantle-passing/origin tale for The Rook. I don’t want to give too much away, but paradoxically speaking, there may be trouble ahead, and if there is, then one thing we should all know about time travel is that it’s wibbly and it’s wobbly and it doesn’t do what you expect. Although The Rook is all about time travel, don’t expect Dr Who. It doesn’t feel quite clever enough yet. This time traveller has his foundation firmly rooted in the works of HG Wells, so much so in fact that the author in question makes a cameo appearance, helping the plot move along as he goes.

Writer Steven Grant has been around the block a time or six. He has written for both Marvel and DC and his own creation ‘2 Guns’ was made into a “Major Motion Picture” starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. So he has pedigree. His work here, for the most part, works well in setting the scene and moving the plot along. He did the burlesque fan dance quite well, showing just enough here and hiding a little there to keep my interest to the end and make me want to see what happens next.

One thing did grate on me a bit. There was one point in particular where he mixed contractions and fully written words in the same speech bubble. This just brought the flow of my reading to a gear grinding halt. It just didn’t feel right. I know it’s a small thing, but it’s the small things that make or break a book.

Now to the art. Paul Gulacy is another gentleman who has been around the block, this time maybe eight or nine times. He has the distinction of being the artist on arguably the first ever direct market graphic novel ‘Sabre’, although he’s probably best known for his work on ‘Master of Kung-Fu’ for Marvel. What strikes me about the artwork on this story is that it is boldly linear and well served by the adventurous colouring of Jesus Aburto. I see a whole lot of Howard Chaykin in what Gulacy is doing in this issue. I think it’s testament to Gulacy, that if you look at more of his work you will see him influenced by Joe Kubert, Jack Kirby and Jim Steranko as well as Chaykin. He’s something of a chameleon.

I had one more little niggle annoy me with this issue. There are two panels that are either out of place, out of time or just plain forgotten about. Read the comic and you will see what I mean. I hope that it’s something really clever by the creative team, to be explained in future issues, but I won’t hold my breath.

This comic comes close but just misses. I want to know what happens next, but not so much that I would cry if the comic didn’t get a second issue.

Rating: 3/5.

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The writer of this piece was: John Wallace
John Tweets from @jmwdaredevil.

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