William B. DuBay’s The Rook Archives Volume 2 (graphic novel review).

Volume 2 of ‘William B. DuBay’s The Rook Archives’ continues with not only the problem of Restin Dane thrown into the future but his great, great grandfather Bishop Dane having to accompany Manners the robot to a nearby cavern where a mandroid has gotten free. We also learn that the Rook’s experiments have government backing and a lot of them are carried out away from his own lab. Again, Bishop and Manners make an odd couple that is a delight to read.

There is more emphasis on SF elements here and more variety of artists. ‘What Is The Colour Of Nothingness?’ is drawn by Alex Nino on its side with some interesting panoramic scenes. Fortunately, allowances are made for the book centre but you do have to wonder how it came out in the original magazine.

‘The Incredible Sagas Of Sludge The Unconquerable’ has a disgruntled Bishop Dane returning to his own time but appears in the Norse period adds to the fun as he has to adapt to circumstances and makes a second part, ‘Helga The Damned, And Marmadrake The Magnificent!’ grow on that. This isn’t helped when Restin Dane is being mind-controlled and not in a position to help.

‘Strangers In The Strangest Places!’ is actually a revisit parallel to Dane appearing in a western community except this time it is an alien from the future who is weak where he comes from but gains super-strength but also naïve and a local madame wants payment for helping him out. His theft from a bank vault is a giggle because it is done so politely. Part 2 has a lovely ploy to get him out of trouble.

The Rook is there firmly placed in Vampirella and Pantha’s reality as they return to Earth and need a little help in the past. It also allows artist Luis Bermejo a chance to illustrate all three and the supporting cast, not to mention bringing dinosaurs to life.

The best to last has to be ‘Quarb And The Warball’ where, after an alien intervention, two apes give birth to an intelligent son, Quarb. We follow his life and learn of his immortality and a way with the women. Granted the initial ones were apes so, technically, he’s the source of mankind. Restin Dane, learning from a newspaper, of a petrified treehouse 6 millions old, decides to go and investigate. While Bishop and Manners go to 18th century Scotland to investigate the Dane family tree. The story goes back and forth with a lovely twist at the end.

Of course, looking at the stories now, it would be hard to ignore not having anything remotely advanced but it was done in the late 1970s. Reading this, it clearly shows how good a writer Bill DuBay was and you could feel he was having fun with his own creations here.

GF Willmetts

February 2023

(pub: Dark Horse, 2017. 149 page large graphic novel hardback. Price: I pulled a copy for £10.00 (UK) on the long river site. ISBN: 978-1-50670-285-8)

check out website: www.darkhorse.com

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