Thursday, April 11, 2013

I Reads You Review: THE ROCKETEER: Hollywood Horror #2


WRITER: Roger Langridge
COLORS: Jordie Bellaire
LETTERS: Tom B. Long
EDITOR: Scott Dunbier
COVERS: Walter Simonson with Jordie Bellaire – regular cover
Walter Simonson – Cover RI; and James White – Strange Adventures Retailer Exclusive Cover
32pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (March 2013)

The Rocketeer created by Dave Stevens

The Rocketeer vs. Hollywood Horror, Chapter 2 “These troubled times”

I finally got around to reading the second issue of the latest Rocketeer comic book miniseries, The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror. This four-issue miniseries is written by cartoonist Roger Langridge and drawn by artist J Bone.

Of course, some of you know that The Rocketeer is a character created by the late artist and illustrator, Dave Stevens. The Rocketeer is Cliff Secord, a stunt pilot who discovers a mysterious rocket backpack (or jet-pack) that allows him to fly. Donning the jet-pack and a metal helmet, Secord becomes the adventurer and masked crime-fighter, The Rocketeer. His adventures begin in 1938 and continue into the 1940s (as of this writing). Most of his activities occur mainly in and around Los Angeles.

The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror opens in the year 1939. Cliff and his girlfriend, Betty, are having their usual squabbles, but that is all about to be put on hold. Betty’s roommate, newspaper reporter, Dahlia Danvers, has gotten herself into some trouble and disappears. Cliff’s trouble is that the actual inventor of The Rocketeer’s jet-pack has sent two henchmen to retrieve it.

Meanwhile, Cliff’s friend, partner, and ace airplane mechanic, Peevy, learns that an old WWI acquaintance, scientist August “Augie” Lowcroft, is missing. Then, there is impresario/mystic, Reverend Otto Rune, and a couple of detectives or a detective couple or a couple who are detectives.

The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror #2 opens with a return, and with Cliff looking for a place to sleep for the night. The henchmen demanding the jet-pack confront Peevy. Cliff decides to focus on Otto Rune, with whom Betty is about to make a connection. Meanwhile, Rune and his Church of Cosmicism prepare for a big gathering.

After reading the previous Rocketeer miniseries, the most excellent The Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom, I had high expectations for the next miniseries – perhaps, too high. Hollywood Horror #1 received a mixed reaction from me.

Hollywood Horror #2 changed my opinion. Now, I can’t wait for the third issue (which will already be in comic book shops by the time I post this review). I love the vibe writer Roger Langridge has created for Hollywood Horror. It is a comedy and mystery mixed with the visual elements and sensibilities of 1930s and 40s era Hollywood B-movies and sci-fi movie serials.

Artist J. Bone’s quirky art captures what Langridge is doing and even does him one better. Somewhere between the cartoony graphics and the semi-deformed (like manga’s super-deformed) art, Bone is trying to invent a visual aesthetic for what might be the comic book version of the screwball comedy.

I also enjoy the cultural and pop culture allusions and references that appear in Hollywood Horror. The henchmen after the jet-pack might be working for Doc Savage, although I always thought that Howard Hughes was supposed to be the jet-pack’s inventor. Of course, the detectives are stand-ins for Nick and Nora Charles of Dashiell Hammett’s novel, The Thin Man, and the film series adapted from it. I’m sure Otto Rune is based on some (in)famous, Depression-ear occultist.

Sorry about before, Cliff – I’m in again.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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