Sunday, September 30, 2012



WRITERS: Louise Simonson, David Mandel, John Byrne
ARTISTS: Walter Simonson, J Bone, John Byrne
INKS: Bob Wiacek, J Bone, John Byrne
COLORS: Jordie Bellaire, J Bone
LETTERS: John Workman, Shawn Lee, Neil Uyetake
PIN-UP: J.K. Snyder, III
EDITOR: Scott Dunbier
COVERS: Darwyn Cooke (A, RI), Dave Stevens (B)
28pp, Color, $3.50 U.S.

Here, we are – the final issue of Rocketeer Adventures Vol. 2.

The Rocketeer is a comic book character created by the late artist and illustrator, Dave Stevens. The Rocketeer is Cliff Secord, a stunt pilot who discovers a mysterious jet pack that allows him to fly. Secord dons a funky helmet, straps on the jet pack, and becomes The Rocketeer, beginning his adventures in 1938, in and around Los Angeles.

The Rocketeer returned to comic books 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 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 #4 opens with “War Hero,” written by Louise Simonson and penciled by her husband, Walter Simonson. The story finds Cliff Secord fuming about being declared unfit for combat in World War II. Now, he is reduced to playing The Rocketeer in war bond drive theatre, but when the Nazi’s show up, Secord gets his chance to show that he is fit for combat.

In “Cliff Secord, Warlord of Blargon,” written by David Mandel and drawn by J Bone, The Rocketeer travels to another planet and completely misunderstands the rules and regulations. “Fair Game,” written and drawn by John Byrne, takes The Rocketeer to the 1939 World’s Fair (The 1939-40 New York World’s Fair, a favorite setting of Byrne’s). Cliff Secord is unhappy with his traveling accommodations, while his girl, Betty, is on the trail of a possible conspiracy. With royalty visiting the expo, the game’s afoot.

Although I’ve had my reservations about Rocketeer Adventures in its entirety, I am a bit sad about the end of Vol. 2. Some of the entries in these two miniseries have not been special or even amounted to much as stories, but they were fitting tributes to Dave Stevens. If there is ever a short list for most beautiful artwork ever produced for American comics, Stevens’ art has to be on that list or that list won’t be worth shit.

This fourth issue of Rocketeer Adventures Vol. 2 features contributions from two comic book legends, John Byrne and Walter Simonson. The Rocketeer first appeared in early 1982 (at least by the cover date) when Byrne was hitting his stride as a writer/artist, especially on Marvel Comics’ Fantastic Four. Simonson would shortly shake the industry with his revamp of Marvel’s The Mighty Thor. David Mandel and J Bone’s contribution here, (“Cliff Secord, Warlord of Blargon”) is cute, but the attractions here are Byrne and Simonson.

“War Hero” offers more than just seeing Simonson art. The story is written by Louise Simonson, once a prolific comic book scribe, and letterer is produced by John Workman, whose collaborations with Walter make great comics. Simonson, with inker Bob Wiacek, also create some spectacular pages of aerial action.

Byrne’s “Fair Game” is spry and fun, and looks like some kind of adventure, espionage, newspaper movie from the 1940s. The fifth page offers some excellent panel design, and Byrne packs more action in pages 6 and 7 than most comic book creators can get in six or seven pages. It’s also nice that Byrne still uses thought balloons, which have largely become passé, most likely because Alan Moore did not use them in Watchmen. And, of course, you know that all comic books must follow the holy writ that is Watchmen.

If editor Scott Dunbier can recruit more veteran creators who worked and thrived in the 1970s and 80s, then, I hope we have more Rocketeer Adventures.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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