Writer: Ben Kahn & Rachel Silverstein
Artist: Sam Beck
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
WHAT IS IT?
An action-packed original graphic novel featuring four friends whose team and personal bonds are tested as they struggle to make - and survive - the finals of Renegade Rule, a VR team arena shooter.
Think e-sports meets The L-Word but actually fun, with fleshed-out characters and lots of heart.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Friends and Manhattan Mist teammates Sasha, Tonya, Jessie and Amanda make it to the national championships of Renegade Rule, and they couldn't be happier - kinda.
See, the team has a few kinks to work out when it comes to, well, teamwork. In the real world, Tonya struggles with confidence when it comes to dating cute girls, Sasha mows through the nightlife at pace, Jessie gets cute with an equally cute partner and Amanda happens to be crushing hard on the captain of their rival team, an elite squad who're returning Renegade Rule champions.
Whatever's an adorably queer person with gaming glory ambitions and a lonely heart supposed to do?
Kahn and Silverstein's writing is a great blend of jocular, humorous flair that likely comes from head-shotting a few &#$!ers in their respective days and down-to-earth, earnest emotion that evokes real empathy - and sympathy, too!
Characterization is nuanced, and on point. Amanda's romantic arc is genuine, balanced and entertaining. Jessie's "out to lunch" persona is put to the test in and out of the game. Tonya's earnestness and inability to see how much of a catch she really is keeps her relatable without infantilizing her as a hopeless romantic. Sasha might be the only character who's not entirely vulnerable on the page at all times, but her frustration and (frankly adorable) tendency to get owned more than makes up for her attitude and bar pick-up prowess
Similarly, the relationships between the quartet feel lived-in and true. We get the sense that this is not the first pep-talk Sasha's given Tonya, or the last time Jessie and said cute partner will get loving eww!s from their friends. Kahn and Silverstein likely know things about these characters that never even made it on the page, and that kind of deep character work is vital in any kind of narrative that focuses on relationships or slice-of-life storytelling
Beck's art is, first and foremost, cute without feeling saccharine or put-upon. Each friend and combatant gets their own physical details that matter, and anatomy in the heat of battle is cartoonish without feeling unmoored or un-researched
Beck's layouts are on the simpler side to keep the focus on the action. There's room for experimentation in a story like this, but it can hamper readability or slow the narrative pace. Beck hits the right balance every time
The color palette is poppy and fun, with bright lasers, cute clothing and an endless array of fun hairstyles and cuts to keep us visually entertained
Campbell's a consummate pro, especially when it comes to what kind of flair to add to a font. The more minimal in a story like this, the better, and Campell's placement, balloon strokes and narrative boxes all feature a signature restraint and clarity
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
There's some language and romantic content here that might not work for smaller kiddos. Parents, use your discretion! Pre-teens, teenagers and adults of all ages should find this one right up their alley.
If you're not particularly into video games or e-sports, the framing might be a hard sell for you. Still, Renegade Rule's real strength is in its genuine representation and exploration of friendships and romance, and that should more than compensate for what might seem incomprehensible to someone new on the gaming scene.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
If you're a gamer or a fan of games and are looking for LGBTQIA+ representation narratives, look no further. Renegade Rule satisfies on every level, and doesn't feel for a moment like it's pandering or too self-aware.
Conversely, if you're a human meat popsicle who likes good comics about cute people and the nice things that can happen to them when they're kind to each other and try their best, this comic's also for you. Renegade Rule is romantic, adorable and fun for anyone who likes good comics!
WHAT SHOULD I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Gryffen: Galaxy's Most Wanted by Ben Kahn & Bruno Hidalgo
Ether by Matt Kindt & David Rubín
The Space Heists of Vyvy & Qwerty, by Niall Presnall & Carlos Trigo
If you like the art:
Verse by Sam Beck
The Necromancer's Map by Andrea Fort, Michael Christopher Heron & Sam Beck
Bingo Love by Tee Franklin & Jen St-Onge
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Ben Kahn (@benthekahn) – Writer
On the Rise: Kahn's fantastic, queer space epic Gryffen: Galaxy's Most Wanted was a firm Yeti favorite, and Kahn has several more exciting projects in the works!
Kahn also co-hosts the Progressively Horrified Podcast
Cabbage's note: Kahn's a lovely person, to boot!
Rachel Silverstein (@flirtymango) - Writer
Multitalented: Silverstein's a self-described "elephant paleontologist turned law school graduate and comic writer"
Silverstein's also written about comics and law - check out that work here!
Sam Beck (@sambeckdraws) - Artist
Beck's done work for Dark Horse, Vault Comics, 2000AD and BOOM! Studios in addition to her own comic Verse
Beck also does covers, illustration work and opens up commissions occasionally, so watch her blog for those announcements!
Jim Campbell (@campbellletters) - Letterer
Prolific: You can find Campbell's work at almost every major publisher, and across your favorite indie comics!
Campbell also shares in-depth updates, including valuable industry know-how, on his blog
HOW DO I BUY IT?
Click one of these:
The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.
All Renegade Rule characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Dark Horse Comics or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.