The Roach by Rhett C. Bruno Book Review

Write on: Mon, 02 May 2022 by  in Charles' New Reviews Read 528


THE ROACH by Rhett C. Bruno is a deconstructionalist superhero tale in the vein of Watchmen. One of the things that Alan Moore suggested in said work as, and this is a shocking idea, that people who decide to beat up criminals in a costume are probably not mentally sound. The Roach is something of a combination of Batman, the Punisher, and Rorshach with more of the latter than the former.

Reese Roberts is no longer the Roach, though, because he's been crippled in the line of duty. A gunshot injury has left him confined to a wheelchair and with nothing but regret as well as simmering anger to keep him going. He has a single friend in the young woman he saved from her rapist and almost no one else. Reese is suicidal because of his status but he wasn't in a healthy mental place to begin with and the fact he's considered a serial killer isn't something that's easy to argue against.

This isn't a happy story. This ostensibly takes place in the "real world" or something significantly more grounded than your average comic book world. There's no magical therapy or cure for Reese's condition and he's never going to get out of the chair. He also is a thoroughly detestable person if you don't have values that believe all criminals are pure evil and deserve to die. However, it's never BORING to be inside Reese Roberts' mind and that is the best thing to say about any book.

The plotline is about all the Roach's sins coming back to haunt him and dealing with the final mission that got him crippled. I felt there were perhaps a few too many coincidences but compared to your average comic book, it's the height of plausibility. We also have a lot of memorable characters as the Roach touches multiple lives for both good and bad. When he saves a kid from bullies, the kid worries he's going to be targeted extra hard now but the Roach has the view not to fight back just makes the kid weak. It's an interesting view of violence as an ideology.

Reese Roberts also has many people who care for him, despite the fact he's a multiple murderer, but chooses to disdain the prospect of living because he's no longer able to be the Roach. He's defined himself so much by his ability to hit the people he hates that the prospect of living for something else disturbs him. There's also the fact that if he doesn't hate everyone but a handful of people, it causes his ideology to fall apart. If the world isn't a dark and horrifying place then why was he out there?

As a writer of superhero fiction, myself, it's a rare story that I would say is a "hard R-rated noir detective thriller" but this certainly qualifies. It touches many ugly places, and the protagonist is not someone that the author hesitates to make unlikable. He is an awful person and quite possibly ill but he's also very charismatic as well as someone that I wanted to know the next move of.

Rhett C. Bruno has an extremely engaging style that sucks you right in and I totally believed in his fictional city of Iron Heights. I will state that readers should be warned this book contains such triggering subjects as suicide, rape (offscreen), child abuse, and graphic violence. It is grimdark as all get out. Nevertheless, the story works because it doesn't shy away from the dark side of its protagonist and illustrates how very often a hero can be another man's villain.

Available here

Last modified on Monday, 02 May 2022 12:49
C.T. Phipps

C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger on "The United Federation of Charles".

He's written Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, and The Supervillainy Saga.