The Rocketeer Adventures #4


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The Rocketeer Adventures #4


  • Words: Dave Gibbons, Joe Pruett & John Arcudi
  • Art: Scott Hampton, Tony Harris & Brendan McCarthy
  • Publisher: IDW Publishing
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Sep 4, 2011

The Rocketeer Adventures is an anthology series featuring the further adventures of Cliff Secord as he juggles being a race pilot, being a superhero, and the affections of one smoking dame. Set in the 1940s, if it's not gangsters, it's Nazis, all trying to ruin perfectly good dates Cliff tries to take Betty on. Speaking of dates, in the first story, “A Day at the Beach,” writer Dave Gibbons gives us a jovial little glimpse into one of Cliff and Betty’s “vacation” days. But, we all know it wouldn’t be normal unless there was some sort of emergency requiring the intervention of the Rocketeer.

Cliff, Betty, and Peevy take a beach day. Betty is taken by a famous surfer and his one of a kind (possibly magical) board. To get a rise out of Cliff, she flirts with the surf pro but gets interrupted by two goons with guns who swoop in and steal the board. Cliff springs into action and changes into his alter ego (in the parking lot), the Rocketeer. What transpires is a fun romp that takes our hero “sky surfing.”

The art by Scott Hampton is appropriately sun drenched. You can feel the heat rising from the pavement in some pages. His action is detailed but never static. The reader’s eye flows effortlessly through the eight-pager. Hampton’s work is so spot on that removing the word balloons wouldn’t hinder the story being told.

In the next story, “Waterlogged,” Joe Pruett and Tony Harris tell a short story involving fun ties at the local theme park. Just like the prior story, it isn’t long before Cliff ditches Betty and Peev after seeing something odd off the shore. Of course, this oddity just happens to be a Japanese sub on the coast of California. The nerve of those guys!

The details of the plot are just that, details. What really shine are the gorgeous pencils by Tony Harris. His line work in the eight-page story is more reminiscent of Starman than the entirety of Ex Machina. It’s a looser, more kinetic style that lends itself well to the latter half of the story’s moody setting.

John Arcudi and Brendan McCarthy drop an espionage adventure into the Rocketeer’s lap as he goes toe to toe in an aerial dogfight with the Aeronaut.

In “Flight of the Aeronaut,” Cliff and Peevy go over specs for a redesigned rocket over lunch, but a pretty blonde mucks up the works and steals the plans. Turns out she’s a spy! Oh, and the Nazi aerialist, the Aeronaut. What transpires is an artistic showcase for Brendan McCarthy. Both rocket strapped daredevils take to the skies. The Aeronaut is trying to get away with Peevy’s designs. The only thing capable of stopping her from getting those designs into the wrong hands is Cliff, but only if he can catch her in time.

Artist Ashley Wood caps off the three short stories with two beautiful painted pin ups. These works of art put the finishing touches on a complete package. The Rocketeer Adventures is an anthology series that works, done in a pulpy style that adds to the premise perfectly.

Dave Stevens’ creation is so versatile that these kinds of stories, taking place between the pages of his stories, could be told for years. Like a reliable sitcom, Cliff is going to get into trouble, Betty is going to understand, and Peev is always going to be tinkering with his designs. The beauty is in the comfort making this title perfect stomping grounds for art. With this kind of quality, other anthology series can learn a thing or two. 

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  • Richard Boom

    Richard Boom Sep 10, 2011 at 9:42am

    last month I ordered and read the Rocketeer HC and cannot wait for the next HC cause I love Betty and Cliff!!

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