Rogues’ Gallery #1 is written by Hannah Rose May, illustrated by Justin Mason, colored by Triona Farrell, and lettered by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou with edits by Heather Antos. It’s published by Image Comics. The superheroine Red Rogue is the focus of a long-running comic book series that spawned a long-running TV series, with actress Maisie Wade portraying the lead role. But a small group of fans has slowly grown irritated with Maisie’s portrayal of the Red Rogue, and things soon hit a boiling point. They decide to storm Maisie’s house and steal a near-priceless Red Rogue comic, dressed as some of the Red Rogue’s villains to boot. But Maisie doesn’t take too kindly to her house being broken into or her work-life literally crashing into her personal life.
Being a fan of something means that you are passionate about that thing. That often means fans will have very strong opinions about their favorite characters and stories, and those feelings will only grow stronger if they feel a film or television adaptation of their favorite isn’t up to par. And while passion is great, it can often boil over into aggression and even breeds toxic mindsets. See: The racist and sexist remarks that actresses like Candice Patton, Brie Larson, and Moses Ingram have received for becoming parts of major franchises like Marvel/DC and Star Wars. Or the seemingly numerous YouTube accounts that rail about “wokeness” destroying a franchise because it chose to focus on a character who isn’t a white man. Even the latest Scream film tackles this very concept, which is ironic, given that this series has been described as “The Purge meets Scream.”
It’s rather fitting that May, an actress herself, is in charge of Rogues’ Gallery‘s story. She focuses the majority of the issue on the group of Red Rogue fans that will carry out the heist: Dodge, Yuri, Haley, Slink, and Kyle. From their very first scene, they have nothing but contempt for Maisie. They constantly yell about how she and the other creatives on the show have “ruined” the comics and how she doesn’t “deserve” the role.
But it takes a tragic turn with Kyle. At the start, he seems to be the only one willing to give the show a chance. But hanging around his friends, who constantly belittle him, and his drunken father pushes him to the point where he supports their heist plans. May’s clearly given some thought as to how a toxic line of thought can propagate, and it makes her story all the more compelling, as well as tragic.
Mason, who previously gave the Marvel Universe a hard rock makeover in Spider-Punk, shifts effortlessly between genres with his artwork. The opening pages take place within the world of the Red Rogue TV show, and they feel like a blockbuster-level movie as Red Rogue and her allies fight all kinds of villains. Then it shifts to the inside of a comic shop, where Kyle and his friends sit and talk shop. Another two-page spread flits back and forth between video screens, featuring Kyle’s smiling face and Dodge’s face twisted in rage as he goes on a diatribe. The coloring and lettering also denote a shift between worlds. Farrell’s colors shift from dark and moody in the TV show to brighter in the real world, save for scenes that take place at night. Otsmane-Elhaou has big, bold letters for the opening page – down to the stylized font for Red Rogue’s name.
Rogues Gallery #1 offers a searing look at the dark side of fandom, specifically the dangers of letting it overtake one’s personality. Between this and Public Domain, Image isn’t pulling any punches when it comes to commentary on the modern state of stories. And if you ask me, it’s a viewpoint that’s sorely needed.
Rogues Gallery #1 will be available wherever comics are sold on Wednesday, July 20.
Rogues' Gallery #1
Rogues Gallery #1 offers a searing look at the dark side of fandom, specifically the dangers of letting it overtake one’s personality. Between this and Public Domain, Image isn’t pulling any punches when it comes to commentary on the modern state of stories.