Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Rogue’s Gallery, Graphic Novel

Cosplay is creepy. It is just supposedly grown-up fans, playing dress-up. Maybe the X-rated kind has its place, but keep it in the bedroom and spare the rest of us. If you disagree, the cosplaying home invaders terrorizing the controversial star of their “favorite” superhero series should convince you. What supposedly starts as a caped caper quickly escalates into a violent home invasion in Hannah Rose May & Declan Shalvey’s Rogues’ Gallery, with art by Justin Mason, which releases today in a tradepaper bind-up of issues one through four.

Don’t be fooled by the initial pages. They seem like a cheesy superhero story, because they are scenes from Maisie Ward’s TV series,
The Red Rogue, based on a popular comic, but not sufficiently faithful for Kyle’s loudmouthed hate-watching friends, Dodge, Yuri, and Haley. They are so mad about her diva-like control over the series, they hatch a plan to teach her a lesson.

Teaming up with “Slink,” a mysterious online troll, they plot to break into her beachfront pad to steal a rare
Red Rogue comic book. At least that is what they tell the gullible Kyle. However, once they hack their way in, it becomes obvious they intend to recreate a notoriously violent episode from the comic.

May gives the home invasion thriller an intriguing geek culture twist, but the constant commentary on toxic fandom quickly grows annoying. It is clearly established the anger directed towards Ward is misplaced, because it is the producers who keep cheapening the property. Yet, in the real world, most fans disappointed with the deterioration of
Star Wars franchise, as one example out of many, mostly blame Disney, producers like Kathleen Kennedy, and directors like Rian Johnson.

Regardless, the stalker-intruder action is suitably gritty and surprisingly violent. It is a highly cinematic concept, which makes sense since May is herself a thesp. She appeared in the Wesley Snipes alien abduction movie,
The Recall, and starred in the clever time travel short, The Way the Future Was (which features some highly ironic product placement for Amazon’s Alexa). It is easy to imagine she wrote the Ward/Red Rogue character with herself in mind. Reportedly, Don Cheadle optioned Rogue’s Gallery, so we’ll see if that happens for her.

In the meantime, it is entertaining to watch Ward suit up to defend her home and property. It also faces up to the creepiness of cosplay and nerd sub-culture. Recommended for fans of action-driven comics,
Rogues’ Gallery goes on-sale today, wherever books and comics are sold.