William B. DuBay’s The Rook Archives Volume 3 (graphic novel review).

The third volume of ‘The Rook’ starts off with some exceptional artwork by Jose Ortiz in ‘Hickey And The Pirates’ when Bishop Dane takes Manners the robot to track down Restin’s accountant’s first ancestor in China and discovers him to be a pirate captain, left tarred and feathered by his crew and help him regain his ship. Restin arrives later and helps sort out the mess.

‘Master Of Ti Chi’ folds two stories together. Restin Dane is in the past looking for the fabled city of Ti Chi only to apparently succumb to poisoned water when on his last legs and thirsty. The water doesn’t kill him but he finds himself in the city, classed as a god but to be killed by its tyrant leader until rescued by rebels. What is interesting is seeing how Dane’s beard growth is used to show the passage of time. While all of this is going on, in the present, the military need Dane’s help with what they think there is an alien invasion but Bishop takes Manners with him to sort out. This is more tragic in comparison but not their fault.

‘The Martians Are Coming, The Martians Are Coming!’ is another duel story. Restin Dane goes into the past to check up on the recent discovery of robots before his own invention and runs into a pre-Nazi conspiracy as well. Meanwhile, Bishop and Manners are handling a Martian invasion that turns out not to be. Oh and Jim Starlin and Alfredo Alcala are the artists.

Bill DuBay’s son, Ben, in the introduction says Lee Elias drew the most ‘Rook’ stories but only a couple are here in the continuity. One would have to surmise after these three volumes in 2017 that there was not enough sales to continue this book series. Elias adds a wash to the inks as well as developing the details compared to the early stories. Restin Dane isn’t happy seeing funding into the space programme is being cut and goes into the future to look for something to bring back to prove his point.

Logistically, there is something to wonder about here. It’s shown that there’s a lot of space technology about so is this future because Dane succeeded or would it happen anyway? The second part, oddly, tends to be rushed towards the end but Restin sorts things out in the future.

The final story in two parts, ‘The Trouble With Tin Men!’ and ‘Robot Fighters’, is again future set to some extent. With Restin still in our present, he has to battle against the revived Mandroid who has taken over his robots at the factory. In the future, Bishop and Manners find a future where the robots are beating the humans in a war and although they accept Manners, they want to use him to blow up the robot base until Bishop offers a different solution. The art by Jim Janes and Alfredo Alcala really is top class here.

The Rook Gallery at the end is smaller than usual but also demonstrates that Romeo Tanghal could do more than ink,

Let’s hope my interest and you people succumbing to buy direct from Dark Horse might encourage them to release some more volumes of the original ‘Rook’ series so we can move onto the material from the original magazine.

GF Willmetts

February 2023

(pub: Dark Horse, 2017. 136 page large graphic novel hardback. Price: I pulled a copy for £10.00 (UK) on the long river site. ISBN: 978-1-50670-286-5)

check out website: www.darkhorse.com

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