Comic Reviews: The Return of THE ROCKETEER!
Rocketeer Adventures #1 (of 4)
A day I have long been waiting for finally arrived today: the return of The Rocketeer in comics! The Rocketeer was a film that I watched so much as a kid that my parents had to buy a new copy of the tape. To say I was excited for this series isn’t even the tip of the iceberg. I love this character, and desperately want him to get the recognition he deserves, and it looks like IDW feels that way too, as they have brought us Rocketeer Adventures, a four issue anthology series featuring all new, original Rocketeer stories by some of comic’s greatest artists. This issue gives us John Cassaday, Mike Allred, and Kurt Busiek and Michael Kaluta, as well as pin-ups by artists like Hellboy creator Mike Mignola.
Cassaday’s story is up first, and his tale in which Cliff Secord (the Rocketeer, in case you didn’t know) has to save his girlfriend Betty from some gangsters who have stolen a bomb attached to (what else) a rocket. Cassaday’s scripting abilities are surprisingly good here, but it’s his art that steals the show. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen Cassaday’s art, and his pencils here are fantastic, and the story is filled with the action, charm, and humor that fans of Dave Stevens’ original stories would expect.
Mike Allred’s story is pretty good as well, although it’s pretty light on the action. However, it does serve as a great sequel to Stevens’ second Rocketeer tale, “Cliff’s New York Adventure”. However, my favorite story this issue is from writer Kurt Busiek and artist Michael Kaluta.
The story finds Betty working on a Broadway play, and waiting for postcards from Cliff, who is off in Japan helping the allied soldiers fight in World War 2. While we don’t see much of Cliff aside from the postcard pictures, they more than paint a picture of the adventures that he is having over in Japan. We see him battling a giant Japanese robotic octopus, helping his fellow soldiers at the base camp, and fighting off a giant samurai ape with dual kitanas. I’m going to say that again: FIGHTING A GIANT SAMURAI APE WITH DUAL KITANAS! Of course it ends happily, with the worried Betty finally getting scooped into Cliff’s arms, and the end of World War 2, this story strikes the perfect balance of fantasy and reality that to me, defines The Rocketeer.
Rocketeer Adventures is a fantastic comic book, and one that was well worth the wait. Whenever someone asks me why I love comics, this will be one of the books that I will point out to them. The book is a stunning tribute to the legacy of Dave Stevens, who tragically died from Leukiemia in 2008, and I hope IDW will be able to keep the character alive for many years to come. Bravo, IDW, bravo.
P.S. Be sure to check out Jetpack Comics for their EXCLUSIVE Dave Stevens variant!
Invincible Iron Man #504
Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca’s Invincible Iron Man runs smack dab into “Fear Itself”, and the results are a little lackluster. While it is nice having Fraction (who is also writing Fear Itself) handling the tie-in, the stakes still don’t seem very high here.
The issue finds Tony investigating one of the mystical hammers that has fallen all over the world. This one in particular has landed in Paris, and has chosen The Grey Gargoyle as its wielder. What follows is Tony trying to do battle with this monstrously powered enemy, and his reaction to the fact that Gargoyle has turned the entire population into statues is pretty good, and captures the horror of this event very effectively, but Larroca’s art is very stiff in the this action heavy issue. Here’s hoping the next one is more fluid.