Monday, June 4, 2012



WRITERS: Tom Taylor, Paul Dini, Walter Simonson
ARTISTS: Colin Wilson, Bill Morrison, John Paul Leon
COLORS: Dave Stewart, Serban Cristescu
LETTERS: Robbie Robbins, Chris Mowry, Shawn Lee
PIN-UP: J. Scott Campbell with John Rauch
EDITOR: Scott Dunbier
COVERS: Darwyn Cooke (A, C), Dave Stevens (B)
28pp, Color, $3.50 U.S.

Inspired by the Saturday matinee movie heroes of the 1930s and 40s, The Rocketeer is Cliff Secord, a stunt pilot who discovers a mysterious jet pack that allows him to fly. The Rocketeer’s adventures are set mainly in Los Angeles in and after the year 1938. The character was created by artist and illustrator, Dave Stevens, who died in March of 2008.

After a long absence from comics, The Rocketeer returned in 2011 in Rocketeer Adventures. Edited by Scott Dunbier and published by IDW Publishing, this four-issue, anthology comic book was a tribute to Stevens and featured Rocketeer short stories (about 7 to 8 pages in length) from some of the premiere creators in American comic books. The tributes continue in Rocketeer Adventures Vol. 2.

Rocketeer Adventures Vol. 2 #2 opens with “Work to Do,” story by Tom Taylor and art by Colin Wilson, which places The Rocketeer on a European battlefield with a job to do. In “Betty’s Big Break,” writer Paul Dini and artist Bill Morrison take our hero to the set of a B-movie where he becomes a “Rocket Rustler,” much to Betty’s chagrin. Writer Walter Simonson and artist John Paul Leon send The Rocketeer flying like a flying monkey to save a special young lady in “Autograph.”

I found the first issue of Rocketeer Adventures Vol. 2 to be a tad bit over the top as a tribute to a respected, deceased artist. Why? While honoring Dave Stevens’ memory, the slam bang action that is The Rocketeer lost its pop and became like something preserved in amber and golden hues. Rocketeer Adventures Vol. 2 #2 is different. These three Rocketeer stories read like real Rocketeer stories and not tributes meant to be placed in the burial chamber of some great figure’s tomb.

“Work to Do” is a gritty battlefield fantasia with heart and pop. As for the second story: I’ve long been perplexed with the popularity of Paul Dini’s comic book work. I’m sure that he has an entire wing devoted to him at the Academy of the Overrated. I have found enjoyment in a few of his comic book stories; “Betty’s Big Break” is one of them. I think it would make an excellent graphic novel if expanded. I don’t know if Walter Simonson has ever disappointed me; if he has, it was not by much. “Autograph” moves like an action movie, and its references to the late 1930s are wonderful.

I don’t think that I have to say anything about the artists who drew these stories. They are all consummate professionals and their graphic storytelling and art are sparkling. On the other hand, that J. Scott Campbell pin-up is rather ordinary. It’s like something Campbell would knock off while sitting at a convention table. Of course, he would over-charge for it, though it’s worth no more than 25 bucks.


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