Thursday, September 8, 2011



WRITERS: Ryan Sook, Joe R. Lansdale, Bruce Timm, Jonathan Ross
ARTISTS: Ryan Sook, Bruce Timm, Tommy Lee Edwards
COLORS: Tommy Lee Edwards
LETTERS: Ryan Sook, John Workman
PIN-UPS: Stephanie Buscema, Joe Chiodo
EDITOR: Scott Dunbier
COVER: Alex Ross (alternate cover by Dave Stevens)
32pp, Color, $3.99 U.S.

First appearing in 1982, The Rocketeer is a superhero created by the late writer/illustrator Dave Stevens. The Rocketeer takes inspiration from the Saturday movie heroes of the 1930s and 1940s, and his exploits are mainly set in Los Angeles in and after the year 1938. The Rocketeer is Cliff Secord, a stunt pilot who discovers a mysterious jet pack that allows him to fly, and Secord’s girlfriend, Bettie Page, is based upon real life, 1950s pin-up and fetish model, Bettie Page.

Over a 30 year period, The Rocketeer made infrequent comic book appearances in several publications from several publishers. The character debuted as a backup feature in the comic book, Starslayer, from the now-defunct Pacific Comics and made two appearances in Pacific's anthology, Pacific Presents. Afterwards, there was the Rocketeer Special Edition (Eclipse Comics), the Rocketeer Adventure Magazine (Comico Comics) and finally graphic novel collection from Dark Horse Comics

The Rocketeer is back in Rocketeer Adventures, a new anthology series from IDW Publishing. Edited by Scott Dunbier, Rocketeer Adventures features Rocketeer short stories (about 7 to 8 pages in length) from some of the premiere creators in American comic books.

Rocketeer Adventures #3 opens with “A Rocketeer Story” by Ryan Sook, which finds the Rocketeer taking on robbers at the premiere of a new film in which Bettie has a major speaking role. Writer Jonathan Ross and artist Tommy Lee Edwards introduce the “Junior Rocketeers” as girl power flexes its muscles. Stephanie Buscema and Joe Chiodo offer pin-ups. Writer and novelist Joe R. Lansdale and artist Bruce Timm present an illustrated prose short story and faux pulp tale, “Heaven’s Devils.”

“A Rocketeer Story” and “Junior Rocketeers” are nice, but nothing special. How does one follow up an issue that had a Darwyn Cooke Rocketeer story? Scott Dunbier somehow wrangled a Joe R. Lansdale/Bruce Timm joint – a short fiction piece with illustrations. I’ve always hated/dreaded finding a prose story in a comic book. I like short stories, but I don’t want to read one in a comic book. Am I obligated to read it, I always ask myself.

The seven-page story features a cover-like illustration and wide black and white illustrations by Timm, but Lansdale holds up his end. “Heaven’s Devils is a fun read with lots of salty language, and it features the subtly vivid prose that is a hallmark of the usually excellent Lansdale. Once again, the contributors to Rocketeer Adventures do right by Dave Stevens.


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