In this Dark Horse reboot of the classic 70s character, The Rook, we find ourselves on a desperate journey through H.G. Wells’ classic novel The Time Machine. The Rook first appeared in 1977 occasionally featured in Eerie Magazine. Eventually the title gained popularity and received its own comic. Here we are in 2015 and the time traveling gunslinger has returned for more adventures.
Restin Dane is the great-great grandson to the protagonist in H.G. Wells’ Time Machine, who in this comic came back from the distant future to tell Wells about his experience. Dane took his ancestor’s technology and expanded upon it, going on far greater and wilder adventures than his great-great-grandfather could have ever imagined. For fans of the source material this reboot is probably a welcome addition to Dark Horse’s roster. For those who are looking for a fun time-traveling romp, this could be pretty hit or miss. First of all there is a lot of back story needing to be caught up on. Like any decades old character the writers either need to shed the past or find a way to expedite the origin story for new readers. Steven Grant does an okay job at this, but it is no easy task to pack so much into a few issues. This is especially true when time travel is concerned, increasing the potential for a story to get really tangled up in itself.
By issue three the boot part of the reboot has already happened and we say farewell to the original Rook from the previous series, as he hands the reins over to the 2015 (nice modern touch, Grant) Rook. This new Rook has no idea who any of the old villains are, or how his time traveling castle operates. Which is great for new readers, because they don’t either, so everything has to be explained all over again. Personally I have never read any of the original Eerie Rook comics so this was good for me. And I found the origin story of Restin Dane to be a fun if not slightly confusing adventure. Much like Dark Horse’s other H.G. Wells’ love letter The Steam Man, The Rook is also a kind of extended or alternate ending to Wells’ Time Machine. Issue three finds both Restin and his ancestor fighting for their survival against Eloi and Morlocks who are now both so violent that their entire society is on the brink of collapse. Both Danes find their way out, but not without bringing one Morlock back to London with them, setting up for a nice cliffhanger.
The Rook’s plot is cool, as far as time travel stories go it’s super fun and obviously plays on its pulp influence. The Rook himself is a badass character, gallivanting through time with a sword and a revolver trying to right past wrongs or just blasting into the weird future in search of whatever. This iteration of the classic character will never be able to capture the magic of those brilliant black and white pages from Eerie all those years ago, but Grant and artist Paul Gulacy will damn well try. After the arbitrary origin story is out of the way hopefully this new Rook will be able to really pick up. Falling somewhere between The Adventures of Luther Arkwright and 2000 AD, The Rook will bend your brain with its action-packed time travel insanity.
The Rook #3 Writer: Steven Grant Artist: Paul Gulacy Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 12/16/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital