Review by Frank Plowright
Kyle Dixon is an incredibly talented footballer, but has a shoddy attitude to his teammates, the manager, fans and match officials. He plays for the Radford Reds because bigger clubs have tired of his behaviour, and is well on the way to burning his bridges there when his life takes a wild turn. He meets an alien on the run, technologically advanced and able, with concentration, to morph his body into human shape. Kyle’s shape, to be precise.
Rok of the Reds has the feeling of a concept Alan Grant and John Wagner pulled from their obsolete projects file, not having been able to sell the idea to the editors of Roy of the Rovers back in the day. However, not seeing it published back then allows some beefing up. It’s doubtful Kyle smashing a beer bottle and threatening people with it would have seen print in the more wholesome Roy’s company. In other respects Grant and Wagner stick closely to the IPC football template, with the old style narration of the crowd serving as match commentators, and the hero-worshipping youngster discovering the reason for Kyle’s overnight change of attitude.
Dan Cornwell really puts the effort in to draw the football scenes with proper crowds and proper action, and he’s gone to the trouble of coming up with a complete Reds squad. His alien designs have an appeal, but Cornwell’s greatest strength is the personalities he supplies on people’s faces, with no mistaking what they’re feeling, There’s something of Steve Parkhouse about them.
Combining the traditional rags to riches football story with one about an alien being hunted by his people is a novel mash-up. Grant and Wagner are never less than professional, and there are some trademark funny moments like the alien bikers, but the basic premise is the only unpredictable moment.