‘W.B. DuBay’s The Rook Archives Volume 3:’ Hardcover Review

In general, I find that the adventures in The Rook are better when they feature more of stalwart protagonist Restin Dane and less of his grandfather, Bishop Dane. While this volume starts out with a very heavy dose of Bishop, mercifully, he becomes, for the most part, less important and less prominent as things progress.

For those not in the know, Restin Dane (a.k.a. The Rook) is a time-traveling adventurer and brilliant inventor who traipses through the past and future in a time machine built to look like a chess piece. Bishop is his great great grandfather whom Restin rescued from the late 19th century, after first rescuing him from the early 19th century, because time travel is complicated. He now lives with Restin in 1979 (when the comics were originally published).

Given his origins, Bishop talks like an old-timey prospector which can be kind of grating when his dialogue is written out phonetically. He’s also hotheaded, foolhardy, and ignorant of modern ways, often yelling at and insulting those around him as a result of that ignorance. The writers try to use Bishop’s unrefined persona as a foil for Manners, Restin’s very proper British robot. It could be a fun dynamic, but it doesn’t quite land as well as it should. As a result, Bishop can be kind of hard to take, except in small doses.

With all of that said, if you also feel like you would be turned off by a character like this in a comic… don’t let it dissuade you from reading The Rook. You can even skip the first story in this volume if you want, which stars Bishop and has little to no lasting impact on the series as a whole. After that, things generally get a lot better.

My personal favorite story in this volume is a two-issue arc, wherein Restin Dane travels to the future in order to save funding for the present-day space program and accidentally ends up in the middle of a galactic war. Also within these pages are an ancient Tibetan city in 19th century Arizona and several different varieties of aliens, among other things. Then, the final issue of this volume puts Bishop in a central role again, but it also has a robot uprising, so I’ll let it slide.

All in all, I do really like The Rook comics. Just when I think they’re getting too cheesy or simplistic, they’ll turn things around with a really complex and interesting adventure. With all of time and space at their disposal, the possibilities are limitless and often a lot of fun. Despite a few missteps, this volume of The Rook is definitely worth reading.

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