The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures
Author: Dave Stevens
Illustration: Dave Stevens
Print Release: 1982
Digital Release: 2011
Purchased on iBooks
With his well-known shiny golden helmet, The Rocketeer bursts into this comic book, showing the reader what it is like to fly. Set during the late 1930s outside of Los Angeles, California, Cliff Secord finds a governmental prototype jetpack hidden in the cockpit of his plane. Well aware of the dangers and at risk of being caught, Cliff straps the rocket to his back, fastens on the finned helmet, and launches into the sky. Wearing his pilot jacket and boots, Cliff attempts to rescue his pilot friend during an airshow. At what cost will Cliff venture to make money as his alter-ego, to impress his love-waning girlfriend, Betty? Will Cliff listen to his trustworthy friend, Peevy, and soar to a better life? Becoming “The Rocketeer” blasts Cliff off into dangerous skies as the U.S. Government, the Nazis, Howard Hughes, and even an old carnie member will be on the lookout for him. This collection of stories and illustrations by the late Dave Stevens, who created the character, is a must read for any fan of The Rocketeer. Spoiler alert: the 1991 Walt Disney Pictures film “The Rocketeer” does not follow this comic completely.
The Pros: The introduction of Cliff and each of the supporting characters is set up well, allowing the reader to have a good experience getting to know everyone. The artwork is very well detailed. The jetpack, thruster switches, and helmet look amazing. The helmet is drawn in a way that allows you to see Cliffs’ emotions through the eye openings. Each of the other characters are drawn very uniquely. Dave Stevens worked hard to give each person, airplane, landscape, and so forth its own look.
The story felt the strongest when Cliff was doing everything he could to stop Betty from leaving the country with another man. His character was driven to fly across the country and to do the right thing in an attempt to be there for his woman without any money or fame. Interestingly enough, those scenes do not feature the Rocketeer costume. However, the best action scene came when The Rocketeer was fighting a Nazi inside of an out-of-control plane. There is just something wonderful about heroes punching Nazis in the face.
The Cons: As much as the artwork enhances this comic, it also hinders it. One word: Betty. What character lounges around on her couch alone, posing for nobody but the reader? If this was a book about her photoshoots, that would be expected, but the modeling scenes felt forced and unnecessary. There is a way to express that Betty is a model without having to show so much. Forcing her body into scenes hurt the story when dialogue could have carried it better.
The story felt choppy at times. Cliff’s reaction to seeing an old foe was confusing at first. Putting the flashback before the villain appeared could have helped the story flow better. I am still confused about what actually happened in New York with that undercover man and his “jobs” that he was offering Cliff.
The Rocketeer’s appearance is extraordinary, but the story could use some propulsion in the right direction.
Jer gives it 3/5.