If you've ever wondered what it would be like to take the Bat out of the city, drop him into the dust-bowl era, sprinkle in a little Southern Gothic seasoning and shake well until done, then you need to read Allegiance Arts Flagship Title: Red Rooster. Mitch Breitweiser and Mark Pellegrini bring us a riveting tale of mystery, intrigue, and redemption all rolled into one. Frank Cooper, the hero of our story, takes up the mantle of the Red Rooster, a tradition that has been passed down for generations. We are grabbed right out of the gate as we find Frank living alone in a cabin, burying his best friend, Rascal the dog. As Frank begins the journey home, he rescues a young boy from a beating, hops a train, and reminisces about his last adventure as the Red Rooster. The story turns to flashbacks, and we see Frank filming commercials in the Red Rooster garb, alongside his partner Strongboy. As Frank glibly puts it..."someone has to pay for their equipment" when hassled by Strongboy about their job. We're introduced to another member of The Order of the Dawn, Ms. Midnight who shares that several of the Rooster's former enemies have been broken out of jail. We're soon introduced to the rogue's gallery, aided by a mysterious benefactor, as they plot to not only bring down Red Rooster, but to also destroy his name and image. The book kicks into high gear as Midnight is attacked at the airport, while tending to their aircraft, and Red Rooster, Strongboy, and another ally, Pilgrim Shadow are ambushed at the county fair. Unbeknownst to the Rooster, his nemeses have found his parents' home, where his equipment is stored and have not only wreaked havoc there, but also stolen one of his costumes to help spread their "discrediting" campaign. The battle rages in earnest in the pages of Season 1, Episode 2 where the tide is turning against our heroes and ultimately culminates in Episode 3, where we see Cooper, broken, deserted by Strongboy, leave behind the mantle of the Red Rooster.
I don't even know where to begin with how much I enjoyed these first three episodes of this amazing book. The story is intense and immediately draws the reader into actively rooting for the hero. Frank Cooper is a man driven by the responsibilities bestowed on him as Red Rooster and doing his best to live up to the heritage and legacy for which it stands. He is, to me, the earnest, everyman who is trying to do the right thing, because it is the right thing to do. Even though I only read the first three episodes, the characters are strongly enough developed that I found myself empathizing with Cooper, disgusted by Strongboy's attitude and smitten with Ms. Midnight. There is a very "Grapes of Wrath" feel to this book, and I was disappointed when I finished Episode 3 because I wanted more. The fight scenes are beautifully choreographed and really do leave you catching your breath and even if you are expecting a coming twist, it hits with the suddenness of a cold snowball to the face. This is pure storytelling at its finest. It's not a preachy, in your face method of slamming down an agenda, nor is it your stereotypical "superhero" fare. There is a genuineness in the writing that is also conveyed through the amazing art and graphics in the book. The vibe is "dust-bowl" and the art overwhelmingly conveys that. You cannot help but feel yourself drawn into that era with each panel and turn of the page. The costume detailing, not only for the heroes and villains, but for the civilians as well is historically accurate for the time period and the technology and architecture beautifully evoke a bygone period. The colors are vibrant and bold, yet still have a... "dusty" look to them, as if to give us the feel of watching an old time movie reel. When I interviewed Mitchell Breitweiser, he shared that Red Rooster is really the defining book for their brand. It's the flagship that Allegiance set sail on and it's easy to understand why. The love and care that went into crafting this story is easily an extension of how this team feels about Allegiance Arts and the work they turn out. I deliberately didn't put a lot of detail into the synopsis above, simply because these are books I recommend you read and enjoy for yourself. If you haven't heard of Allegiance Arts, I highly suggest you jump over to their website at Original. Collectible. Comics. (allegiancearts.com) and dive into Red Rooster, along with their other exciting titles. I cannot thank Mitchell enough for the access he provided me not only for our interview, but for the amazing comic books. I'm in the midst of reading Norah's Saga, so keep your eye out for that review, coming soon! Thank you for checking out the newest section of Dan's ToyBox and until next time... GEEK OUT!!!