Preview: ‘Roy Of The Rovers – The Best Of The 1980s – Who Shot Roy Race?’

by Richard Bruton

The reprints of the most iconic footballer in the world continue, with all of that Roy of the Rovers action heading into the ’80s, with thrills on the pitch giving way to one of the most dramatic ROTR storylines off it… so, who shot Roy Race?

Time to settle down, once again, to enjoy all the action, all the classic Roy of the Rovers moments, as we head on into the ’80s… a time when Melchester Rovers and Roy Race really had their share of troubles…

Joining the action halfway through the season in this best of the ’80s volume, we’re in January 1981 with Melchester Rovers in meltdown, the team’s down at the bottom of League One and there’s the very real threat of relegation hanging over them, plus they’re about to crash out of both European competition and the FA Cup. It is not a good time, on or off the pitch for Roy Race.

Roy Race’s position as player-manager has taken its toll, he’s giving his all to the club, putting the inevitable strain on his marriage and his teammates, and he’s heading for absolute exhaustion. And of course, there’s one of the most famous ROTR storylines to come as we see the legend gunned down by his mystery assailant!

But all that off-the-pitch action takes a back seat at first, with this volume opening with a whole month of strips to enjoy, all focused on just one match.

It really is some incredible work from artist David Sque, one of a handful of truly great artists who have graced the pages of first Tiger and then Roy of the Rovers to deliver this footballing legacy.

Just look at the first few chapters in the preview below to see what I mean, complete with David Sque’s amazing control of the action on the pitch through his artwork, complete with some lush colours bringing out all the best in his art.

It all comes down, of course, to the last game of the season, relegation staring them in the face, with the once-great club needing to win by five clear goals to avoid the drop.

Half-time it’s 3-0 to Rovers, the fourth goes in and then Roy gets pulled down in the box… penalty time…

Do they make it?

Well, that would be telling.

Post-season, there’s TV stuff, with a crew wanting to do a special on Roy and Melchester, a friendly tournament where Melchester see what new hotshot, 18-year-old Kenny Logan, is made of, plus the unveiling of a new kit.

But, of course, that’s not what this era is really remembered for, as we get into the classic, the famous, Who Killed Roy Race storyline. (And no, we’re not telling you who pulled the trigger!)

Through the decades, these Roy of the Rovers reprints have shown us one thing, that every era is something of a classic, with your own particular favourite time being closely associated with just when you first experienced that Roy of the Rovers moment for yourself. It might have been you nipping down the newsagent yourself, or it might have been through old copies that your dad or grandad had lying around somewhere.

And that’s the real legacy of Roy of the Rovers in so many ways, that sense of a shared experience, of football and of comics, a love of Melchester passed down the generations.

Anyway, being able to go back to these reprints, whether it’s the best of the ’50s, the best of the ’60s, the best of the ’70s, or this current volume, has made me realise that there’s truly something wonderful about all of them.

So, join us on and off the pitch once more, because whatever league they’re in, however they’re playing, whatever the dramas off the pitch, there’s truly nothing like those classic Roy of the Rovers moments, no matter what decade you’re reading.

Roy Of The Rovers – The Best Of The 1980s – Who Shot Roy Race? – Written by Tom Tully, art by David Sque.

Originally serialised in Roy of the Rovers from 3 January 1981 – 5 July 1982, and the Roy of the Rovers Annual 1982. Published by The Treasury of British Comics and Rebellion on 10 June.

Now… those first few pages from January 1981… all with that glorious David Sque artwork…

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