Rocketeer Adventures Issue #2 Cover Art by Dave Stevens & Alex Ross, Published by IDW
Review Written by Shaun Daniels and Edited by Sharon Wong
After the passing of artist Dave Stevens (see footnote), we thought we would never see another issue of The Rocketeer but his legacy lives on and boy, are we thrilled about that. There is absolutely no better way to honor and eulogize Stevens than to continue to publish a character he created and was also passionate about. To go even a step further is by having giants of the industry like Mark Waid, Gene Ha and Darwyn Cooke to work on the book. If you’re looking for good, old fashioned comic book fun involving Nazis, gangsters and dames then issue 2 of Rocketeer Adventures by IDW will scratch that itch and then some.
“It Ain’t The Fall That Kills Ya…” Story by Mark Waid, Art by Chris Weston, Colors by Dave Stewart and Letters by Chris Mowry
Waid and Weston do a fantastic job capturing the spirit of the Rocketeer and with poking fun at comic creators vs. comic companies in tongue-in-cheek fashion. Cliff finds himself a target of a bully (his eventual encounter backfires). The bully in question takes a job as Aeroman, one of those newly concocted [I changed the word from confounded as it didn’t fit] superheroes, and after a publicity stunt goes awry, he literally lands in the crosshairs of Aeroman’s disgruntled creator. Why disgruntled? The company publishing Aeroman walked away with everything and left the creator with nothing. In the end, Cliff saves the bully and ends up stopping the creator as no good deed goes unpunished. It’s clear Waid is having fun on this project. He channels the Atlas advertisements from the back of classic comics in the opening scene with Cliff confronting the bully and offers up a brief commentary on what happens to the creators of classic comics with the comic creator of Aeroman. Waid shines with his use of dialogue from this time period, more specifically, the use of Flag Pole Sitter. Weston uses a classic approach to the art, paying homage to Dave Stevens. He is able to capture the emotions in the faces of the characters to the point that you feel the spit flying out of Cliff’s mouth. Oh, and his depiction of Betty will have you searching for the original art pronto.
“Betty Saves The Day” Story, Art & Lettering by Darwyn Cooke and Colors by Dave Stewart
As the title suggests, we find the roles of Betty and Cliff reversed with Betty donning the Rocketeer suit and saving Cliff by putting their collective bacons out of the fire. After an explosion on the train that the couple were riding in, Betty is left holding Cliff who has been shot. She must then wear the costume and jet pack, and soon finds out that Cliff makes piloting the pack a bit easier than it appears. After sort of getting the hang of it, Betty crash lands, sending Cliff to the hospital [how does Betty’s crash affect Cliff going to the hospital?], and her out of the suit and back into her lingerie which was all she had on underneath. Cliff recovers but not for long as a gift is found under his hospital bed…the gift of the ticking variety. This one-shot was done as if it were the last part in a long running serial with Cooke the master of both words and art. The 1930’s time period is right up Cooke’s wheelhouse because no one draws dames like he does.
“TKO” Story by Lowell Francis, Art by Gene Ha, Colors by Dave Stewart and Letters by Chris Mowry
This is by far the best story with the best art in the book. The story pits Cliff against a man who has stolen a prototype suit that allows the user to hover like a helicopter. The unnamed nemesis is armed with two machine guns and is able to maneuver around better than Cliff, leaving him to outthink his opponent. The whole air battle is told with narration much like the play by play of a boxing match broadcast on radio. At the beginning, there is a brief mention of a supposed surprise Japanese attack by the commentators but is rather the fight between Cliff and the foe. The writing is pure genius with the juxtaposing of the narration to the air fight; it felt like the commentators were watching the battle as opposed to the fight. On the art side of things, Gene Ha could draw stick figures and they would look breathtaking. From his design of the stolen prototype to his sleek take on the Rocketeer’s costume, it simply is food for the eyes. The only thing that would make this better is a solo series by Francis and Ha.
Last but not least, there is a two-page pin-up of the Rocketeer fighting off the Luftwaffe by Geoff Darrow (art) and Dave Stewart (colors). It would take us days, nay weeks to pour over every detail that Darrow painstakingly rendered in the issue. We are pulling out this pin-up and framing it on our office wall.
It’s hard to find a book with this much talent so go to your comic shop and pick it up now cause it will be flying off the shelves.
Lastly, we would be remiss in not mentioning the website devoted to helping research the terrible disease known as hairy celled leukemia, the same disease that took Dave Stevens from us in the prime of his life and career. The best way for us fans to honor this man, besides buying this book, is to make a donation in the name of a man who gave so much beyond comics. http://www.hairycellleukemia.org/donations.php
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