Thursday, September 5, 2013


IDW PUBLISHING with DC Entertainment – @IDWPublishing and @DCComics

WRITER:  Mark Waid
ARTIST: Paul Smith
COLORS: Jordie Bellaire
LETTERS: Tom B. Long
EDITOR: Scott Dunbier
COVER: Paul Smith with Jordie Bellaire
28pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (July 2013)

The Rocketeer is a comic book character created by artist and illustrator, Dave Stevens (who died in March of 2008).  Cliff Secord is a stunt pilot who discovers a mysterious jet pack.  Donning the jet pack and a helmet, Secord becomes “The Rocketeer,” and begins a series of adventures set mainly in Los Angeles and beginning in the year 1938.

The Spirit is a comic book character created by cartoonist Will Eisner (who died in January 2005).  The Spirit first appeared on June 2, 1940 in what readers called “The Spirit Section,” a 16-page, Sunday newspaper supplement or insert that was carried in various newspapers from the 1940s and into the early 1950s.  Once known as Detective Denny Colt (believed by some to be dead), The Spirit is a masked vigilante who fights crime in Central City.

Now, the two characters come together in a new comic book miniseries entitled, The Rocketeer/The Spirit: Pulp Friction.  Written by Mark Waid and drawn by Paul Smith, Pulp Friction unites the two characters to solve the murder of a Central City politician whose corpse is found in Los Angeles.

The Rocketeer/The Spirit: Pulp Friction #1 opens in Central City in February 1941.  It is cold and snowy outside, but inside City Hall, it is quite heated.  The story moves to the following morning, three thousand miles west.  Betty, Cliff Secord’s lady, is doing a modeling shoot on a beach when she makes a grisly discovery.

When they learn that a denizen of Central City has been found dead L.A., The Spirit, Commissioner Dolan, and Ellen (the Commissioner’s daughter) head to Cali.  And The Rocketeer is ready to greet them.

Uniting The Rocketeer and The Spirit seems like such a no-brainer that I’m surprised that it’s just happening now.  The Spirit is a character from the “Golden Age” of American comic books, and The Rocketeer, who first appeared in the 1980s, harkens back to the “Golden Age” of both comic books and Hollywood.

The creative team of writer Mark Waid and artist Paul Smith is an excellent choice to chronicle the team-up of two beloved “old-timey” characters.  When Waid is at his best, his comic books are pure fun, and as a fan of and expert on Golden Age comic books, Waid can write stories that capture the spirit of the 1930s and 40s, but tell them in a modern idiom.  Best known in the 1980s for his elegant and animation-influenced drawing style, Paul Smith engaged comic book readers with his storytelling that hit on all points:  character, plot, and setting.  That serves him well in this series, which will mix adventure and action with mystery and suspense.  I must note, however, that Smith’s work in Pulp Friction is closer to Dave Stevens’ in nature than to Will Eisner’s – not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The Rocketeer/The Spirit: Pulp Friction looks to be one of the good things we will get this year.  It’s that wild ride comic book fans want.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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