Rogues! vol.3: The Crypt of the Rotten Gods (#4 – 5)

3 out of 5

Fittingly piggybacked onto the preceding re-presentation of the Rogues’ first story, Crypt of the Rotten Gods is half an origin tale, narratively wended into the current Rogues timeline, in which our duo are disgraced by the thieves’ guild.  As Bram and Weasel are told they can regain good graces by descending into the “no one’s returned from there but you” titular crypt, they flash back to that time during which they first descended and returned, which also happens to be when they first met.

El Torres, Abel Hermo, and Diego Galindo manage to wrangle a time-hoppy setup into a slim two issues, but it’s definitely a bunpy ride, only really smoothing out in the second half, which is a classically silly, campy, dusted-with-emotion-and-character-development Rogues tale.  This is despite a questionable structure which has Bram and Weasel alternately narrating.  The Rogues, being outlandish archetypes, gain their surprising dimensions via context; giving them the talky reins exposes their essential emptiness, and makes the timing-jumpy tale (present-past-present-past) even more herky jerk.  …This is further hindered by a temporary art split, with Hermo starting off by doing a heavy-handed Ryp impression, and Galibdo finishing off the first issue in a looser (as though rushed) than usual style.  The personality of Torres’ writing style keeps it alive, thankfully, until issue 5, when Galindo is back to his slick, delightful self and Torres successfully goes in an unexoected – and fun – direction.