Writer: Ryan Parrott
Art: Marco Renna
Colors: Natália Marques
Letters: Becca Carey
Covers: Luana Vecchio; Chris Campana & Mattia Iacono
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: February 1st, 2023
If you’re interested in this comic, series, related trades, or any of the others mentioned, then simply click on the title/link to snag a copy through Amazon as you read the Rogue Sun #10 Review.
ROGUE SUN has been a series that’s as much a metaphor about being a teenager as it is a superhero story. But this left the nature of Rogue Sun as a hero mostly unexplored. That finally changes in ROGUE SUN #10. Parrott tweaks the story from a general metaphor to a mirror for Dylan specifically. In the process he expands the Rogue Sun lore that we’ve so far been missing.
ROGUE SUN #10 opens with Caleb Hawthorne recounting one of many of his battles from 1365. Caleb was the first Rogue Sun and was accidentally summoned at the end of ROGUE SUN #9 by Dylan’s sister and brother when they were trying to summon their father. Unsurprisingly, this upsets Dylan. He thought his siblings had come into his room to check on him the night before while he was healing. Instead they took the Sun Stone. This sense of betrayal follows Dylan to school where he overreacts to Byron wanting to go to homecoming rather than to a concert with Dylan (who was turned down by Vanessa when he asked to be her date). This is where the story switches into the lore heavy part of the issue. Caleb takes Dylan inside the Aviary of Secrets to find the Quill that the villain from last issue sent him after.
Caleb’s presence in ROGUE SUN #10 allows the series to go in a direction it hasn’t been able to yet. Dylan’s father did offer some advice before Dylan banished him. But he mainly focused on rebuffing Dylan’s mother. Since then he’s been making it up as he goes along (with mixed results). Caleb can both teach Dylan and help him grow into his situation. I don’t know if Parrott will take it in this direction, but it has the potential to become an ongoing teacher/student or even mentor relationship. That such a relationship could exist on the Rogue Sun side of his life shines a light on how much Dylan’s ordinary teenage life lacks it.
Dylan’s stepmother is concerned with Dylan’s physical training and education, but aside from when he was hurt in ROGUE SUN #9, general emotional support is hit and miss. His relationship with his brother and sister ranges from strained to icy. He has only one friend at school. Rogue Sun is most of what he has going for him, and Parrott always writes Dylan more up when he gets the calling. When Dylan’s world utterly implodes this issue (because every bad thing that happens to a teenager is instantly the end of the world), his main recourse is to jump into hero mode and get what consolation he can from his activities in that role.
The biggest thing to comment on are the layouts for the last third of the book. Once ROGUE SUN #10 moves into the Aviary, the book moves into a horizontal presentation rather than the standard vertical one. And on the pages where there are multiple panels, the shapes are not uniform and there are no right angles. Panel shape and layout is an easy way to convey weird or unorthodox situations. Turning a book from vertical to horizontal is that idea multiplied a hundred times because a horizontal comic book is more inconvenient to read. Our difficulty reading the book mirrors Dylan’s confusion.
Renna’s presentation of the Aviary isn’t quite disconcerting, but it does push back against our sensibilities. The first look we get of it is as a kind of hollow tower with open archways encircling each level and wooden catwalks running between the different sides. It’s not a space convenient for people. But for the very large number of birds that occupy it it makes perfect sense. The Aviary is an excellent example of form following function.
Carrey puts a very light, very thin orange/red border around Caleb’s dialogue bubbles that is not unlike what was used for the villain in ROGUE SUN #9. In that case the dialogue bubble was black and the text white, but it is interesting to notice the reuse of the border. Does that imply some kind of connection? And is it significant that it is an effect not used for Dylan?
ROGUE SUN #10 is the first issue that doesn’t feel like a metaphor for a teenager’s life. Instead it comes across as a commentary on Dylan’s life and what it seems to be missing. He’s advancing as Rogue Sun. He has more significant interactions as Rogue Sun. And when he expresses his confusion, he has someone to reassure him in the form of Caleb. The series continues to be the best and most heartfelt teenager superhero story on the shelf.