Commander Rao Review: A chaotic dystopian adventure
Bonus content courtesy of Sequential Magazine! Issue 7 coming Wednesday Sept 30th. Catch up on previous issues at gumroad.com/seqmagazine
By: Riley Hamilton
Action comics pose an interesting challenge for creators. How to balance out the action, which is often a big selling point of the book, with an engaging story that serves as more that just a setting for the action to take place in. Commander Rao does a great job maintaining the delicate harmony between the high-octane action sequences and telling a compelling story that kept this reader guessing until the last few pages.
The creative team behind this book are Fell, a queer, Asian-Canadian cartoonist based out of Toronto, whose work began in various fanzines and anthologies before her debut narrative zine, Do you Believe in the Afterlife, launched in 2019. The lettering in this book is courtesy of LetterSquids, a Connecticut-based writer, letterer, and graphic designer. He has worked on numerous books for several indie publishers such as Action Lab Comics and Scout Comics. His original work Antares’ Finest (with art by Errorbound) won Best Comic and Best Lettering on r/comicbookcollabs’ 2019 Untold Worlds Anthology.
Commander Rao is a dystopian, sci-fi, war comic set in the distant future and follows a lone soldier in her mission to take down a Baron and end a decade-long war. According to the creator, Commander Rao is a story of “how violence begets violence, and how all the heroics of warfare are meaningless in the eyes of what has been lost”.
The action sequences in this book are phenomenal and took inspiration from the fight scenes in animated series such as Nickelodeon’s Legend of Korra and Netflix’s Castlevania. The night-time setting for the book takes full advantage of the artist’s use of vibrant colours. Several pages are lit by the glow of fires and explosions which is a constant reminder that the characters are in the middle of a chaotic warzone. In addition to the brilliant colours, the lettering in this book is a sight to behold. The creative use of onomatopoeia, both in terms of the words and the different styles used means that the reader never gets bored with the letters. The creative use of perspective in each of the action sequences also ensures that the book never feels repetitive, a common critique of more action-heavy comics. The book is a must read for fans of action comics and a recommended read for fans of comics in general thanks to the creative action scenes, dynamic lettering as well as the surprisingly gripping and tragic story.
Fell can be found on Twitter at @FellHound_ or on Artstation at https://fell-hound.artstation.com/. LetterSquids can be found on Twitter at @LetterSquids or on his personal website https://lettersquids.com/. You can pick up your digital or print copy of Commander Rao on Gumroad at https://gumroad.com/fellhound.