Saturday, March 30, 2013

I Reads You Review: THE ROCKETEER: Hollywood Horror #1


WRITER: Roger Langridge
COLORS: Jordie Bellaire
LETTERS: Tom B. Long
EDITOR: Scott Dunbier
COVER: Walter Simonson with Jordie Bellaire – regular cover
ALTERNATE COVERS: Walter Simonson – Cover RI; Roger Langridge and J Bone with Jordie Bellaire – subscription cover; Roger Langridge and J Bone – Comics Pro Retailer Exclusive Cover; and James White – Strange Adventures Retailer Exclusive Cover
32pp, Color, $3.99 U.S.

The Rocketeer created by Dave Stevens

The Rocketeer vs. Hollywood Horror, Part 1

The latest Rocketeer comic book is The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror. The four-issue miniseries is written by cartoonist Roger Langridge and drawn by artist J Bone.

Created by the late artist and illustrator, Dave Stevens, The Rocketeer is Cliff Secord, a stunt pilot who discovers a mysterious rocket backpack that allows him to fly. Donning the backpack and a metal helmet, Secord becomes the adventurer and masked crime-fighter, The Rocketeer. His adventures begin in 1938 and continue into the 1940s (for the time being). Most of his activities occur mainly in and around Los Angeles.

The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror #1 opens in the year 1939 with the usual; Cliff is late for a date with his girlfriend, Betty Page (if “Page” is still her last name). Soon, Betty will need Cliff as the Rocketeer. Her roommate, newspaper reporter, Dahlia Danvers, has gotten herself into something deep, and this deep means trouble.

Everyone seems to be talking about a missing scientist, Augie Lowcroft. Cliff’s friend and partner, Peevy, an ace airplane mechanic, just so happens to be acquainted Lowcroft. Also crawling around this case is Reverend Otto Rune, some kind of impresario/mystic, and a mysterious couple with a penchant for detecting.

Coming on the heels of the most excellent The Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom, The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror is a change-of-pace for the franchise. Whereas Cargo of Doom was like an old Hollywood movie serial from the 1930s and 1940s, Hollywood Horror is a snappy comic adventure. Part screwball comedy and a whole lot of tongue-in-cheek, this looks like it will offer some B-movie, science fiction, monster fun.

Honestly, I don’t love The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror the way I did Cargo of Doom. In this first issue, J Bone’s art seems like a near-cubist take on Bruce Timm’s graphic style. I usually like Bone’s work, but this is hit or miss for me. It took me until the end of Chapter One to buy into Roger Langridge’s jesting take on The Rocketeer. If this is the tone of the book, then, Walter Simonson isn’t the appropriate cover artist for Hollywood Horror.

This isn’t really The Rocketeer the way Dave Stevens did it, which other creators have tried to emulate. Hollywood Horror could turn out to be really good, though, so I’ll keep reading.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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