Saturday, May 12, 2012

Rocketeer Adventures 2, #2

Stories: Tom Taylor, Paul Dini, Walter Simonson
Art: Colin Wilson, Bill Morrison, John Paul Leon
Pinup by J. Scott Campbell

Created in 1982 by writer/artist Dave Stevens, The Rocketeer was Stevens' love letter to the Pulp genre and film serials of yesteryear. Indeed, The Rocketeer reads like a Saturday matinee from the '40s was torn from the silver screen and folded into a comic book. Reluctant hero and titular character Cliff Secord is an amateur pilot and barnstormer who finds a top secret rocket pack and straps it to his back with the intent of fighting gangsters and Nazis. Coupled with G-Men, "gee whiz" supporting characters, and a girlfriend modeled after Betty Page, The Rocketeer enjoyed moderate, if sporadic success including a campy (albeit enjoyable) big screen adaptation and a crappy Nintendo game.
Sadly Dave Stevens died in 2008, a victim of leukemia, but not before seeing his work enjoy widespread recognition.
Thankfully, in the years since his passing, IDW Publishing has not let the property stagnate and has continued to produce original works and reprints of Stevens' legacy. Rocketeer Adventures is something of an all-star jam book, drawing writers and artists to create a compilation book of stories, and is now on it's second miniseries.
This issue brings us three self contained stories, the first of which is something of a morality tale and finds our hero in a muddy WWII battlefield, facing a Third Reich steampunk contraption bristling with guns and anti-American sentiment.
The second short is more of a humor piece, focusing on Cliff's paranoia and jealousy about his actress/nude model girlfriend and what happens when she's away on shoots. I suppose if I were some hapless shlub from the 1930s with an inexplicably hot pinup girl for a main squeeze, I might have some insecurities as well. Especially if Nazis were always trying to steal my rocket pack. So, Cliff decides to don his art deco helmet and take to the skies, flying to his girlfriend Betty's movie shoot in order to spy on her. Zaniness ensues and, suffice to say, our hero ends up with a large soda dumped on his head courtesy of his indignant ladylove.
Pulp dames...
The third and final story sees The Rocketeer involved in foiling the kidnapping of a Hollywood star. I'd noticed a trend in these books that Cliff seems to get embroiled in altercations frequently due to the deus ex machina of our hero being in the wrong place at the right time. This is no exception as Cliff is awaiting a Hollywood premier and the kidnapping attempt unfolds RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM! A few high flying pages of our hero punching out kidnappers later and the kidnappee is rescued and revealed to be none other than golden age film star...
Hey, go buy the book sucker.
The final feature is a pinup from artist J. Scott Campbell featuring The Rocketeer flying over the horizon with the lovely Betty in his arms.
This is a pretty solid book, and I would recommend it to anyone enamored with the Pulp genre. This is an entirely biased opinion, as I myself am enamored with the Pulp genre. And giant vegetable monsters, but I digress...
The writing is brought to us by Tom Taylor (The Authority, Dark Horse's Star Wars books), Paul Dini (DC Animated universe, Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City video games) and legendary Walt Simonson (what, you don't know who Walt Simonson is? Clean your desk out, you're fuckin' fired).
Art is courtesy of Colin Wilson (Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper, Losers), Bill Morrison (co-founder of Bongo Comics), J. Scott Campbell (Danger Girl, Gen13) and John Paul Leon (Earth X).
As far as I'm concerned, that's a helluva pedigree for a book, and they all do Dave Stevens justice here.

By: Will Dubbeld

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