As I've discussed in the past, I'm a fan of Ste and John Pickford's 1993 Super NES action platformer title Plok. I've hoped for years that the character would return in a sequel or high definition remake of that original 16-bit game, and while the Pickford brothers are interested in bringing him back in a video game, it hasn't happened yet. I like to believe that a revival is in the cards though, and the recently released print and ebook volume of new, original Plok comics is a step in the right direction of reviving the franchise. Consisting of the first twenty-six strips of the Plok comic published at Zee-3.com, Volume 1 follows Plok as he awakens from a very long sleep and discovers that the video game world has passed him by. There's no sequel waiting for him after his nap and his amazing exploding limb powers aren't exactly needed anymore. Instead he must learn how the gaming world has changed and prime himself for new adventures alongside other of the Pickfords' gaming creations such as Plok's former nemesis Rockyfella and his new sidekick Wubba Ducky from Wetrix. As he quickly learns, Plok has a lot of catching up to do.
Ste Pickford recently sent me a redemption code for the iOS version of the comic compilation. Any Plok is good Plok after so many years of going without the character, and the game's sense of humor has translated well to the page. Plok is as feisty as ever. The strips are short, spanning only a few panels and in another era would have fit well in your local newspaper's comics pages. After Plok is reintroduced and his long nap explained, the story kicks in proper with the arrival of the Queen who begins laying familiar-looking eggs. The genetically engineered eco-ranger, Commander Zob, is poking around as well. Their exact role isn't explained by the end of the book, but the story is clearly building to something. On the whole, the plot is open-ended and the strips instead focus on a punchline at the end of each installment. Think more Garfield than syndicated Spider-Man.
It's difficult to recommend the book on the strength of the comics alone. They're quick reads, some funnier than others. The entire volume and more can be read online for free, too, so why pay money for the book? Aside from supporting the Pickfords and the Plok brand, what's worth exploring here are the author's commentaries as writer and illustrator Ste Pickford offers thoughts on each strip along with an early sketch of each one. These are fun looks into the creative process and I'm a fan of that sort of thing. It won't be for everyone, but I enjoyed learning how each strip grew from a basic idea into a finished product.
So is Plok: The Exploding Man worth a purchase? I'd advise you to read the comics online, see if the strip is for you, and then pick up a copy if you want to support the property and learn a little more about the making of it. Be aware that you will tear through this book quickly. If you've been waiting as long as I have for new material from the world of Plok though, then this is worth a look. Plok still has a place in the world and I hope we see more of him in the future.