Sometimes you can hear the dice rolling as you read…
Sometimes the advantages to being a gamer nerd pop up in the strangest places- like this review. A true game geek can spot a “Glory Bit”—a piece of media lifted clean from someone’s RPG campaign—from a mile away. It can be anything—a fantasy novel, a short story; hell, Sony Picture’s Underworld positively reeks of White Wolf’s World of Darkness with the names changed to protect the tragically hip. And so we come to Rogues, which, if it wasn’t someone’s pen-and-paper adventures, sure fooled me. I mean, its named after the protagonists’ character class, for Gygax’s sake.
We begin our story in the town of Gerada (“Gerade” is German for straight, by the way—how butch is that?!) with an old sage telling a young boy about the wonders of the city, a typical fantasy-city setting. We are soon introduced to the pneumatic and wily female thief known as “the Weasel” who stays dressed like Christopher Reeves walks. Her partner in crime, Bram, a barrel-chested, wild-haired, axe-slinging barbarian, aids her in stealing the purse of the uppity Duke Clavius. From the look of things, these two really missed their calling in the Dungeons and Dragons book of classes, because generally thieves tend to be good at stealing things whereas fighters do more with the punching and the kicking and the axes. Neither Bram nor the clothes-shunning Weasel got the memo on that, and they gleefully beat the ever-loving crap out of anyone they are stealing from. They’re not so much thieves as muggers—or in their day and age maybe brigands, which would be somewhat refreshing if I got the idea that this was being done on purpose. Zero experience points on that.
On the other hand, they do manage to stay, as all good player-characters do, somehow genuinely likeable, mainly because their incompetence as thieves lands them in all kinds of adventures with cults and assassins when they try to fence the fist-sized ruby they jacked the Duke for in the first place. And best of all, most of this could easily have been avoided had either of them made any attempt to use stealth, guile, or even check for traps. Almost two thirds of the comic is the two of them bickering like an old married couple as various wizards and whatnot try to kill them. So bonus points for banter.
The art is really nice, giving the book the feel of early nineties smaller-press comics like Valiant and Atlas. Thick black lines and solid definition give the book a healthy look, and it’s a fun read. The color is nice, and the whole book has a good, vibrant flow. Level up.
The last two pages are a cute little self-contained story—well, not so much a story as a joke, really—that’s pretty endearing and almost more fun than the full on story arc. So, you get plenty of bang for your comics buck. It’s not the most highbrow thing on the shelf, but Rogues! is a fun ride.