The Rook 1 (October 2015)

The Rook #1

Seventies and eighties comic book sci-fi is some solid stuff. The Rook tries to tap into the genre to get some nostalgia points and it isn’t hard–artist Paul Gulacy drew a lot of good seventies and eighties sci-fi. The classics, if you would. And I’ll bet Steven Grant even wrote some of them.

Not sure if ROM counts.

Sci-fi in comics has gotten a whole lot more mainstream–especially in indie books–so what do returning giants Grant and Gulacy bring to the genre? It’s nearly camp. It nearly feels like a sci-fi comic from the early nineties because of all the references (“Quantum Leap,” “Back to the Future,” Time Machine actually playing a part of the plot), only the style is from a different era.

But then, The Rook is set in 2015, so Grant’s doing this nineties look at college life. You expect someone to call another kid a square for not drinking the spiked punch. And it doesn’t feel like camp in those moments, because Grant’s just not caring about his cast. They’re not as important as the gimmick. Only the gimmick’s not particularly good.

The Gulacy art carries it all, even after Gulacy starts rushing (somewhere in the second half of the issue). Gulacy has the chops to make the characters likable and sympathetic, even if their dialogue doesn’t give them any personality.

The plot’s amusing, the dialogue’s weak, the art’s good. The Rook isn’t the project Gulacy deserves, but he excels with what he’s got.


Writer, Steven Grant; artist, Paul Gulacy; colorist, Jesus Aburto; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Ian Tucker and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

I Hate Fairyland 4 (January 2016)

I Hate Fairyland #4

It’s a solid issue. Young doesn’t do anything crazy like he did in the previous one, he just sets Gert out on a quest. She muscles her way through it. Young’s formula for Fairyland is just enough detail to make readers gag on the saccharine nature of it, but not too much to get caught up in it. He breezes through the details. His art is always more important that the associated text.

The issues work like big pieces Young is arranging. He doesn’t just have to move Gert, he’s also got to move the supporting cast. Fairyland is like a busy stage play. The hurried nature of it is part of the charm.

Still, it was a little disappointing to see such a traditional narrative after last issue’s nuttiness. There are a lot of good jokes, as Gert explores the dark side of Fairyland, but Young drags them out. He’s even got a pattern–little in text, little in art, lot in art–in how he tells them.

They’re good jokes and often quite funny, they just aren’t particularly creative ones to make. Young coasts through this issue and gets out without even using a third of his built-up goodwill.


Writer and artist, Skottie Young; colorist, Jean-Francois Bealieu; letterer, Nate Piekos; publisher, Image Comics.

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