Thursday, July 12, 2012

CBR Rocketeer Adventures


He's back!
Who is? Well, The Rocketeer, of course!

After IDW was able to work the rights with Dave Stevens (before his passing) and realized this gorgeous recolored deluxe edition of the original adventures of Cliff, they decided to give another flight to our rocket propelled hero.

Instead of making that long rumored new on-going series, they went into another direction.
Cliff would live many more new adventures, but as stand alone on shots through the voices and hands of various new artists.

Don't miss out my previous Rocketeer-related reviews!

Comic title: Rocketeer Adventures Vol. 1

Art & stories by Mike Allred, John Arcudi, Kurt Busiek, John Cassady, Darwyn Cooke, Lowell Francis, Dave Gibbons, Joe R. Lansdale, Joe Pruett, Jonathan Ross, Ryan Sook, Mark Waid, Tommy Lee Edwards, Gene Ha, Scott Hampton, Tony Harris, Michael Kaluta, Brendan McCarthy, Ryan Sook, Bruce Timm, Chris Weston, Alex Ross & more!

Published by IDW Publishing
From 2012
Lineup The Rocketeer 
Format: Deluxe Hardcover trade paperback, collecting the four issue of the Rocketeer Adventures limited series.

Last year (in 2011), IDW Publishing launched a tribute/sequel to Dave Stevens' classic The Rocketeer.

But instead of doing the expected usual outcome to these sort of revivals, they went with something more original and fun for everyone - fans and creators alike.
I'm sure an ongoing series would have been nice, but it would either be quickly stopped and canceled due to low sales or it would denature the purpose of the character after a while. Can you imagine, writers going out of ideas and starting to throw giant robots, dinosaurs and time travelling nazis at the Rocketeer? I wouldn't mind that in a Silver Age-style parody/homage to old comics, but that wouldn't be very Rocketeer~ysh.

Afterall he was created as a love letter to the old serials and pulp heroes. He requires to be grounded in  reality, more down to heart. Like Zorro or Tarzan for example.

Instead, this continuation of the series was designed around these short features, very much like the way the character started in the 80s.
Brief "serials", half a issue. Framed around pin-up art galleries.
Various authors and guests, renowned artists and writers from the industry, rotated on each issue.
Each giving his own artistic depiction and take on a character that probably influenced their work or inspired them as a kid.

These are the Rocketeer Adventures!

All these stories take place either briefly after the end of the original comic or later during the war.

(For reminder:)
The year is 1938, Los Angeles.
Cliff Secord was just a circus kid who grow up to become a race plane driver.
He has a girlfriend named Betty. And his best friend and mentor Peevy helps him out with his gear.
One day he found a mysterious rocketpack prototype hidden in his plan by gangsters.
Soon chased around by gangsters, Nazi agents, the FBI and more!
Cliff took action into his hands to become... The Rocketeer!

Each issue is (usually) a two-feature.
All stories work independently, there's no need to read or collect them all (as issues).
Each one work as personal tributes from all these authors, in their own respective styles.

In issue #1, John Cassaday story is actually the closest we will get to a new Dave Stevens' Rocketeer issue. With Eisner award-winner Laura Martin back to the colors as she did on the new edition of the original stories. The story felt a bit discontinued and didn't go anywhere really, it was about Betty being kidnapped (again!) and Cliff coming up to save the day once more.

On another hand, Mike Allred's more personal and distinct story felt like a one-note epilogue to "Cliff's New York Adventure". Just bringing things to an end. Nostalgic in tone, even with his unique artistic approach.

All these stories really recaptured the serial nature of the character.
They often started in medias res, and left the plot hanging a bit, leaving this little world open ended or leaving the reader with a "to be continued".

Some are particularly well made, crafting a bit more of this fictional world (other jetpack-wielding figures? updating his rocketpack model?) other explore the characters a bit further (particularly Betty).
While some personal favorites of mine did really great (Darwyn Cooke comes to mind, or Tony Harris from Ex Machina) others left a bit to be desired too (Bruce Timm, that's all you're going to do? really?)
Also, no Adam Hughes in sight? Really, IDW? The most popular well known and most influenced comic book and pin-up artist around, a huge fan of DS and The Rocketeer, and you don't even try getting him on-board for at least a cover?

The covers were all done by the fantastic and super-talented Alex Ross (which rotated with some original Dave Stevens ones as regular and variant cover designs).
All these pieces are simply breathtaking, very reminiscent of the movie.

The pin-ups includes such artists as Mike Mignola, Dave Stewart, Jim Silke and others!

All in all, a very fun ride.
One last hurrah for the rocket man?

Overall, a very recommended read!
It's a sight for the eyes and a delight for the imaginary.

Dave Stevens made an instant classic with The Rocketeer. And even if it is sad there had never been any further adventures, this is just as good.
IDW worked with the full cooperation of the Stevens family to produce this unique amazing anthology sries.

I'm glad to see so many fun original styles and top creators all united around the love for Dave and his great creation.
My only real personal complaint is that I'm just sad there's no Adam Hughes to be found.
Also, one or two of those stories stretch this universe a bit to its limit (WW2 passes on, we see Cliff fighting all sorts of mechanical and improbable creatures on post cards... mmmh...)

The success of Rocketeer Adventures already made IDW announce a new on-going series (uh oh..) and another wave of adventures in the upcoming Rocketeer Adventures 2! But that is the story for another day...

I give it:

  2.5 / 3 Plastic-trophies!

No comments:

Post a Comment