The Return of Rob Hanes
Randy Reynaldo is back with another issue of his all ages adventure comic, Rob Hanes Adventures. Issue 11 is titled "Rob Hanes and the Pirates" and is a quick-paced adventure story putting the main character Rob Hanes through an adventure in a thinly veiled version of North Korea and its movie-obsessed dictator. There's a preview up at ComicSpace here.
This story is probably a bit more typical of the premise for the series which owes a big debt to traditional action and adventures strips of olden days; in constrast the previous issue (which we reviewed here) from January of this year involved Rob Hanes going undercover on a professional baseball team to investigate possible steroid use.
Issue 11 is a nice read, it's a fast read. It's 24 pages of almost non-stop action. Reynaldo's art and panel composition are sharp (there's a few pages with some ambiguity in the panel layout but nothing too distracting). But there isn't a heck of lot to the story - there's no real twist or turn or big reveal and it's not much of a spoiler to reveal that Rob Hanes does in fact live to return for the next issue. It does nicely incorporate elements of some of the stranger true stories from North Korea into its narrative, but you do wish Reynaldo had written something more surprising or at least played with the reader's knowledge and expectations of the factual elements from North Korea to create more suspense.
In my review of Issue 10, I noted that I really thought this comic might be well suited to flipping it's model to serialization on the web first, and then going to a print collection later. Obviously Reynaldo hasn't taken my advice, but I still think it makes a lot of sense. For example, although Reynaldo admirably scripts a complete stand-alone story for each issue of the comic, he does include characters that have appeared before and he's clearly building a larger world around these adventures. I can't fully participate in that world unless I've read the full archives. If the full archives were on the web, I'd be up to speed as fast as I can sit down and read them.
Similarly, as many creators have found, attracting and holding the attention of readers is as important in some ways as creating a quality, moving comic. Rob Hanes Adentures is certainly a good comic, but you have to wonder how much more of an audience it could build with a regular update schedule (perhaps like Warren Ellis has pursued with Freak Angels). Although I was pleased to see my review copy of Issue 11 in the mail this week, I probably hadn't thought about the comic since the last issue came out in January.
Nevertheless, this is another solid entry in a series that does a good job of delivering entertainment appropriate for almost all ages and one I would particularly recommend for a younger reader who likes this genre but really isn't ready for full-blown PG-rated and up work.
Note: The creator provided a free copy to ComixTalk for review purposes.