Rovers Return: Roy Race Takes The Field Again In ‘Foul Play’

by Richard Bruton

Rebellion’s revitalisation of Roy Race continues in a second volume full of fabulous football action (or, if you prefer, stunning soccer moments!). It’s time to take the field with Melchester’s finest once more in a new Roy of the Rovers graphic novel.

There’s a saying in English football, when a team pulls off a fabulous, unexpected win, when you get some rags to riches story, it’s always described as a real Roy of the Rovers moment… and that’s exactly what this new Roy of the Rovers series is all about!

Now, this Roy of the Rovers might not be the Roy many folks here in Britain remember, but that’s just the point. We don’t need a Roy of the past, we need a Roy of the now, a Roy that makes kids excited about football and Rob Williams and Ben Willsher have provided just that.

Rob Williams and Ben Willsher take charge once more, having introduced a completely new Roy Race in their first graphic novel, Kick Off. Gone were the decades of stories and instead, we got to experience this famous name from his new beginnings.

He’s gone from a chancer working his way into team training to a new wonder-kid, now playing as striker for Melchester Rovers. And the footie world has taken notice of this new star after his super-strike against the top English club side and Melchester’s local rivals, Tynecaster, in the FA Cup.

But, getting on the team is one thing. Staying there is another. This is the next step in the footballing adventure!

If you are the latest hotshot but only on a week to week contract with a league two club, you’re bound to get the vultures round. And that’s just what happens here, with agents circling, temptation threatening to turn young Roy’s head.

But, if being the target of agents is dangerous, that’s nothing compared to being the target of a centre-half the size of the Hulk. With one nasty tackle, Roy’s career at Melchester could already be over…

Disaster! Is this the end of Roy’s playing life before it’s even begun?

Well, of course it won’t be. We all know that. But that’s not the point. The entire idea behind Roy of the Rovers has always been that it’s all pure soap opera. And that’s just what Williams and Willsher get just right here. They throw in all the required bits of drama and shock, whether that’s Roy’s injury struggles and the threat of losing his place in the team, the threat of the owner selling up and moving Melchester to another town, or even a possible bit of romance. It’s all there, with a pace that’s as unrelenting and explosive as young Roy bursting through into the penalty area.

And alongside Williams’ fast plots, we have Willsher’s artwork. Some have criticised it, comparing it, unfavourably, to those artists who used to draw Roy. But, again, that’s the point. Willsher’s art is stylised, cartoon light, modern as any Saturday morning kids’ animation, and does everything it has to do. If you’re 40+ and moaning that this Roy isn’t what it used to be, you’re really missing the point. It’s been designed to be different, it’s designed to appeal to a younger readership, because that’s the smart thing to do. And if you approach it with an open mind, it’s a damn fine read.

And, as an added bonus, we even get to see the beginning of a second Race legend. Young Roxanne Race, Rocky to her friends, is also a young footballer, who takes great pleasure in teasing her brother and is soon going to be a star in her own right. That’s going to happen in the forthcoming Rocky of the Rovers strip in this summer’s Tammy & Jinty Special, out in June, just in time for the thrills of the Womens’ World Cup. I’m all for that!

But, before that, you can, and should, pick up this second graphic novel in the new adventures of one of the most famous characters in British comics history. It’s as brand new as you can get and it’s perfect, perhaps not for you but definitely one for the next generation. So get the book and gift it to a young football fan! It’s the perfect gift!

And if I can’t convince you, I’ll let the Melchester Rovers coach have the final word… get yourself down to Melchester Rovers right now!

Roy Of The Rovers Volume 2 – Foul Play is available right now. Written by Rob Williams, art by Ben Willsher, letters Jim Campbell, colours John Charles and Guilherme Lindemberg Mendes. Published by Rebellion.

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