Sunday Slugfest - Rock N Roll

A comic review article by: Keith Dallas, Michael Bailey, Kelvin Green, Jason Sacks

Michael Bailey

Plot: Romeo comes to Kelsie’s apartment and instead of finding his girl, he finds two thugs from a cult. After a quick fight, Romeo begins his quest to track down Kelsie. His quest brings him to a nightclub and after the cult summons a demon, Romeo must find a way to save Kelsie from her predicament.

Commentary: This was an interesting comic to read. The almost total lack of dialogue made for more work than I am used to as a reader, but at the same time it was also a challenge. At first I was confused as to what exactly was going on, but once the fighting started and the demon showed up, things were made clear, and I realized that this was a pretty basic plot wrapped in an interesting hodge-podge of artistic styles.

Chris Arrant of Newsarama described the plot as, “boy meets girl, boy loses girl, girl gets sacrificed to monster, boy tries to stop it,” and I really can't argue with his assessment. The thing is that despite the simplistic plot, this is a really fun comic. There are fights, interesting locations, guns, baseball bats and a demon. There is no exposition, no explanation of how Romeo and Kelsie know each other or what their relationship, no history of the cult or the demon they summon, and it doesn’t really matter because the point of this story wasn’t to tell an epic, romantic tale of a man trying to find the woman he loves. This story strikes me as an excuse for the creative team to tell a really fun action tale where a big guy fights a bunch of other guys in search of his woman.

How could I not like this book?

In The End: This was a really fun book that would make an excellent short film. There isn’t a whole lot to say about the book because on the surface there isn’t a whole lot to it. What makes this comic work is that the story is basic enough to suck you in and then you have some really neat looking art to pour through. If you are looking for a deep, meaningful story, I wouldn’t pick this book up. If, however, you want a fun, quick read I’d suggest giving this book a chance. It’s just good, clean, girl saving, demon-killing fun.

Kelvin Green

This is a very strange comic. It’s full of creative decisions which seem baffling from one perspective, and utterly logical and reasonable from another.

Why, for example, does the art veer so dramatically from style to style throughout the book? It starts off looking somewhat like the Daredevil work of Alex Maleev, before switching to a more cartoony style reminiscent of Chris Bachalo's work for the middle section, and doing a good impersonation of Mignola’s Hellboy style for the finale. Ordinarily, I might put this down to a bad choice of artists, but there’s a sense here that it’s deliberate; the gritty Maleev style suits the seedy detective work of the first third of the story, while the Hellboyesque look is quite appropriate for the supernatural climax. Tying the visuals to the mood of the story in this way makes for an interesting comic, and it doesn't have a jarring effect, as often happens as a result of the more arbitrary decisions made in assigning multiple artists to such things as annuals or double-length specials. So it works, and I think I can see why they did it, but it’s still an odd creative decision. It helps that the art is generally very good throughout; although the artists appear to be aping various other styles, they do it very well, and there are some stunning images in here.

The writing is similarly solid and assured, with a good sense of pacing, and very effective use of flashbacks and essentially silent storytelling. The only downside is that the plot is very light, almost ridiculously so; too much plot complexity is unwise for a silent story, as there’s only so much you can convey without words, but once you look past the competence of the visuals, it’s clear that there’s something lacking at the core of the book. Why go for such a short and simple story, especially in a one-shot? Another of the book’s mysteries…

So it’s a more than competent work that does some very interesting things with the mechanics of the comics medium, but it’s all at the expense of a strong narrative core. Rock N Roll is certainly worth reading, and is wonderful to look at, but there’s not enough story for me. If you’re less uptight than me about such things, feel free to add another bullet to the score.

Jason Sacks

Rock N Roll is a lot like reading a long lost comic by Mike Mignola in a bizarre foreign translation. It has beautiful women, weird creatures, heroic characters and a bit of rock and roll, of course. It also has a whole stream of odd and inexplicable events, and a larger than life detective who (hope this isn’t too much of a spoiler) swoops in and saves the day.

The product of two pairs of Brazilian twins, this is an odd and unique story with some gorgeous art. Since this is an almost wordless story, the art has to carry most of the weight. There are several two-page scenes that contain absolutely breathtaking art - the first two pages show an astonishingly detailed view of a school of fish against a dramatic black background, and a later spread shows the beautiful Kelsie docking a boat, against an fantastically detailed dockside background. Only creators who are fully invested in their stories would create something so unique and interesting.

The art in the rest of the comic is also very intriguing. From the art, we get a feeling that Kelsie is fun and self-assured, and has a wonderful joy for life. The opening fight scenes, where someone tries to help and find Kelsie, are dramatic and exciting while following a unique style. But the meat of the issue is in the conclusion, where a bizarre cult hijacks a rock concert to revive a bizarre evil creature. It’s here that the issue resembles most a Mignola comic, with gorgeous blacks and moody atmopsherics.

Overall, this is a wonderful introduction to the work of these new creators. Based on this comic, I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

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