I’ve been anticipating The Rook miniseries from Dark Horse since it was first announced several months ago. I was not familiar with the character, other than being aware that Restin Dane was a time traveling adventurer created by W.B. DuBay and featured in various Warren Publishing titles between 1977 and 1982. Even so, the creative team for this revival of The Rook immediately grabbed my attention.
Steven Grant was the writer of the Punisher: Circle of Blood miniseries that helped to catapult the character into A-list status. Grant has written a number of excellent, intelligent crime and horror series over the years. In particular, I enjoyed his writing on The Damned and Mortal Souls, as well as his offbeat revamps of Challengers of the Unknown and Manhunter in the mid 1990s.
Paul Gulacy is an artist who I’ve blogged about previously. After his breakout run on Master of Kung Fu, Gulacy went on to work on such diverse characters as Sabre, Batman, Valkyrie, James Bond, Black Widow, Terminator, Catwoman, and G.I. Joe. I’m a huge fan of his work.
Even though The Rook is a pre-existing character, Grant & Gulacy have made Restin Dane entirely accessible to new readers. An eight page prologue, “The Gift,” appeared in Dark Horse Presents #14. The time traveling Dane arrives thousands of years in the past in the city of Ilion, where the inhabitants are celebrating the ending of a long war. At first Dane is confused about his whereabouts… until he spots a giant wooden horse, and belatedly recalls that Ilion was another name for Troy. Uh oh!
“The Gift” was a solid introduction to the character of Restin Dane. Grant gives us a good look at his personality and hints at his mission. I felt that Grant packed in more plot and characterization into this short prologue than many writers nowadays manage to fit into a full-sized comic book. It definitely left me intrigued and eager to read the actual miniseries.
Within the first issue, Grant again sets out essential information. It is quickly established in that Dane originates from some point in the 21th Century, and that he is embroiled in a temporal feud with a sinister individual known as Lock. With that, the story barrels ahead, presenting both action and mind-bending questions.
As a fan of science fiction in general and Doctor Who in particular, I really appreciate the fact that Grant is exploring the nature of time travel, and the possible paradoxes inherent within it. “The Gift” suggests that Dane, in attempting to alter events and prevent the destruction of Troy, instead causes history to unfold exactly as it was written. The implication is that Dane always was going to arrive in the past to play that specific role in it.
Moving on to the first issue, Dane arrives in his own past in the year 2015, affecting people and events, including his own younger self. I’m really curious to see what Grant does over the next three issues. Only a couple of weeks ago I was touching upon the concept of the bootstrap paradox in another post. Now I am wondering if Restin Dane’s timeline will be another example of a causal loop. Hey, the cover logo does have an infinity symbol / Mobius strip contained within it!
Then again, perhaps Grant is playing with reader expectations and is actually going to go in an entirely different direction. We shall have to see.
The artwork by Gulacy in the DHP prologue and in the first issue of the miniseries is amazing. He superbly renders the historical setting of the Trojan War and early 19th Century Spain, as well as the hi-tech and fantastic elements.
Gulacy is one of the best action artists in comic books; his fight sequences are dynamic. He definitely knows how to lay out a page and tell a story. I was also struck by Gulacy’s designs for Lock’s sinister coterie of assassins against whom Dane is pitted in the first issue.
Last but certainly not least, the rich coloring by Jesus Aburto suits Gulacy’s artwork very well. It definitely works to create a genuine atmosphere.
I enjoyed the debut issue of The Rook and am looking forward to reading the next three installments. A sequel by Grant and Gulacy is reportedly already in the works. I certainly recommend this miniseries. The first issue is still on sale, and it is also available digitally. I hope everyone will check it out.
2 thoughts on “Comic book reviews: The Rook #1”
Gulacy is great. I used to confuse his artwork sometimes with (I think) Gene Day. They both drew MoKF I believe. Gulacy’s depiction of martial arts fight scenes were unparalleled. They flowed and were actually quite accurate. I thought that he or the writer (Doug Moench) must have had a black belt to be able to depict those scenes so accurately. In any event, Gulacy is a black belt in sequential art.
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