Advance Review: ‘Renegade Rule’ Hits With Big Gaming With Big Personalities

by James Ferguson

Overview

The world of Esports will never be the same after the Manhattan Mist explodes on the scene. This fun story explores the power of friendship and queer identity with characters you most definitely want to hang out with.

Overall
8/10
8/10

The world of Esports is filled with some big personalities, but it’s not ready for the Manhattan Mist. The ragtag group of gamers has been rising up the ranks of Renegade Rule, the latest virtual reality gaming craze. They’re in the big leagues now and ready to compete in the big tournament which could change their lives forever. They just have to remember to work together to do it.

Renegade Rule wastes no time introducing us to the core characters and this world. Tonya, Amanda, Jessie, and Sasha are skilled, yet brash players. Although they aren’t the most organized, they’re the scrappy underdogs you can’t help but root for. This extends to more than just the game as we see them out in the world trying to figure out relationships and get through some of life’s troubles.

Artist Sam Beck kept the looks of the characters the same in game and in real life which helps to distinguish each person. It’s not like some Ready Player One nonsense where there’s an avatar that looks nothing like the real person. Who they are in Renegade Rule is an extension of who they are in the real world.

Each of the levels in Renegade Rule are unique settings for combat, ranging from a jungle to a factory to a battlefield. Beck does a tremendous job with these designs. They’re also flush with color, each with their own palette. For example, the factory level has a definite Terminator 2 vibe to it. The color shifts a bit when we’re not in the game, however it’s still just as vibrant and welcoming as ever.

One character that almost steals the show is the Announcer hosting the tournament. He’s got some choice lines, expertly crafted by letterer Jim Campbell for maximum impact and laughs. He’s also perfectly situated to provide a nice joke here and there without distracting from the overall story.

The Manhattan Mist team members are some charming that it’s easy to get pulled right into their lives. Writers Ben Kahn and Rachel Silverstein quickly establish the quirks of each character and make them very relatable. Although I have virtually nothing in common with any of them personally, I found their stories easy to identify with. They’re a pretty diverse group and it’s awesome to see that kind of representation, especially in a field like esports which the general public believes to be dominated by cis white males.

The queer identity of these characters is a core part of who they are. Kahn talked a bit about this in an earlier interview, how a goal was to expand what a mainstream queer story can be. Renegade Rule definitely accomplishes that task, breaking away from the stereotypical arc or character archetypes that might be associated with a queer story. As mentioned above, these characters are very easy to relate to even if you haven’t had similar life experiences.

Renegade Rule is a downright fun comic focused on some very big personalities. The Manhattan Mist are the cool kids you want to hang out with. While Esports is the setting, it doesn’t dominate the story. It’s the characters and their lives that really shine through in this great book.

Renegade Rule from Dark Horse Comics is set for release on May 26th, 2021 at your local comic shop and on June 8th, 2021 at bookstores and Amazon.

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