Story/art/ design- Fell Hound
Lettering/ logo- Lettersquids
Set in a sci fi future, after years and years of conflict against Baron Klaus, a rogue, bitter soldier decides enough is enough. Storming his manor, the lone war hero takes matters into her own hands, but her reasons for this violence are deeply personal. We see flashbacks set within the pages of Commander Rao that show us the motivations and what drives Rao in her one women mission of revenge. Whilst it is an undoubted action packed issue, it’s also full of heart and sadness for the loss of the ones we cherish.
Action-packed but full of heart
Action-based comics can sometimes face pacing problems and a disconnect between the action and the story that’s being told. However, with Commander Rao this is no concern. Fell is confident in her storytelling and world-building. A thoughtful story is weaved seamlessly amongst high energy almost cinematic action panels. A difference in the colours/ tones used within the panels helps readers differentiate between timelines and different points of view.
Rich, bloody panels
Talking of the colours. The panels concerned with the battle, are designed with such strong bold, vibrant colours. Reds, blues and other deep rich colours marry perfectly with the action. Fell certainly doesn’t shy away from a generous amount of visceral blood in these action panels! In the flashbacks, an almost sepia tone is used, which makes it almost instantly recognisable as scenes from her past.
Alongside Fell’s immense visuals are Lettersquid’s letters. These just really bring something special to the issue. I particularly liked the emphasis on certain words/ phrases and the way they stood out from the pages and outside of the normal speech bubbles. It is such an effective and impactful technique that helps the reader feel the tension in the scene.
The cost of becoming a hero
Commander Roa, like its titular character, pulls no punches. Readers are made to sit up and look, to see the cost of this violence. To see how much has been lost. Roa may be considered a war hero to so many people- but the price of this victory was so high- was it worth it? Commander Rao as a character is just cool. She turns up at the home of her enemy completely alone except for her trusty weapons, grappling hooks and jetpack boots (which I want a pair of). She swiftly and brutally cuts through the Baron’s men, completely focused on her mission. You just want to see Rao succeed, so much has been taken away for her whilst she fights in someone else’s war- we see how far she has come to seek an end to the bloodshed. But also to seek an act of more personal revenge.
This stand-alone issue is well crafted with concise and emotive storytelling, cutthroat bloody action and the main character you really root for. It is no surprise it received such a strong reception. Like Captain Marvel meets John Wick, Commander Roa is here to kick ass and take names.
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