Rocketeer

The Rocketeer/The Spirit 4 (December 2013)

Idw publishing rocketeer spirit pulp friction issue 4And there’s a nice happy ending with no resolution to any of the lame character subplots Waid brought into the series to try and give it some semblance of a story.

But apparently all Cliff needs is a Zorro mask when he’s not in flight and life’s much easier for the Rocketeer. That idea (from the Spirit) comes during an odd heart to heart the characters have. Waid just can’t figure out how to do this series and someone at IDW should have noticed long before it got to series.

There’s also the issue with Bone, who does a fine job in some ways, but just doesn’t have any interesting ideas for juxtaposing two very different visual characters and art styles. It’s The Rocketeer in something like a Spirit style, without anything going to the other way.

It almost feels like Waid’s trying to introduce the properties to younger readers.

D 

CREDITS

Pulp Friction, Part Four; writer, Mark Waid; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Rom Fajardo; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Rocketeer/The Spirit 3 (November 2013)

1621742So J. Bone takes over the art. Maybe the intention was always a different artist on each issue, but it doesn’t play particularly well. Bone does very nice homage to Eisner’s character design without being too literal.

The story’s a little weak though… definitely a little weak. Waid definitely likes the Spirit and his supporting cast, but he casts Cliff as a buffoon. Betty’s a strumpet and Cliff’s a buffoon. Until the big action sequence–the two heroes’ different fist fights juxtaposed against each other–the Rocketeer doesn’t show up. Waid’s just got Cliff running around like an ass.

It’s awkward and unpleasant. The crossover is ill-advised–the characters’ don’t sync–but Waid could have come up with something better than Cliff being a boob.

The issue reads fast and Bone has some decent moments. Otherwise, it’s getting even worse than I had expected. Waid’s dropping the ball here.

CREDITS

Pulp Friction, Part Three; writer, Mark Waid; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Rom Fajardo; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Rocketeer/The Spirit 2 (August 2013)

287190 20131023140726 largeWaid continues full steam ahead with two characters who probably should have never crossed over. The result is more a Spirit comic guest starring the Rocketeer cast than anything else. Loston Wallace’s heavy on the Eisner influence for the character designs–except Betty to some degree–and, as a result, Cliff feels totally out of place.

Peevy and Dolan getting along like aged pranksters is a whole different problem.

But the comic also makes the Spirit feel way too literal. Waid’s got him fighting bad guys on biplanes, big crash sequences, on and on. It’s the Spirit in an action movie, with occasional Rocketeer moments–Waid tends to follow Cliff when he’s got the helmet off and the Spirit when Cliff’s suited up.

The comic’s also way too predictable. Given the properties in question, there’s nothing at risk here for the characters… and Waid should be going for constant amusement.

CREDITS

Pulp Friction, Part Two; writer, Mark Waid; penciller, Loston Wallace; inker, Bob Wiacek; colorist, Hi-Fi Colour Design; letterer, Tom B. Long; editors, Scott Dunbier and Chris Ryall; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Rocketeer/The Spirit 1 (July 2013)

STK612636Does Mark Waid always write Betty so awful? Not poorly awful, but awful to Cliff awful. It’s inexplicable why Cliff would hang around such a terrible human being… makes him a weak character too.

The Spirit and The Rocketeer aren’t exactly a good team-up, but Waid does find a decent connection for Peevy and Dolan–World War I–and the Paul Smith art at least looks really good. But a big airborne fight? Complete waste of time and pages.

Having Ellen appreciate Cliff isn’t a bad move, but unless Waid has them run off together… he’s never going to make up for his Betty characterization.

There’s some organized crime subplot too. It’s not particularly interesting. It’s also unclear how long Cliff’s been the Rocketeer or his current ground situation.

The Smith art has charm and Waid does okay with the Spirit cast, but it feels like a cash grab.

CREDITS

Pulp Friction, Part One; writer, Mark Waid; artist, Paul Smith; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Tom B. Long; editors, Scott Dunbier and Chris Ryall; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror 4 (May 2013)

272200 20130508131521 largeEverything ties up nicely for the finish. I’m still trying to determine how Langridge made this take on The Rocketeer. He’s turned Cliff into a young doofus, added Groucho Marx as the narrator and so on… yet it’s definitely the Rocketeer.

There’s a big action scene to resolve everything. It takes most of the issue and Langridge has to fill it out with some minor twists and turns. Some of his intimations are still too vague for me–though I think maybe Doc Savage makes an appearance.

Without being identified, of course.

The Bone art probably does hurt the comic’s commercial viability–the non-realistic comic strip influenced art doesn’t scream sales–but it’s impossible to imagine the series without it.

Langridge and Bone should be very proud. There are all sorts of great little details, but the overall result is outstanding too. It’s an excellent series, start to finish.

CREDITS

A Night at the Altar; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror 3 (April 2013)

270508 20130410122958 largeOh, Langridge is just having too much fun now. He reveals the narrator–Groucho Marx. It’s a hilarious little detail; it doesn’t make any sense yet (how he’s omniscient but he’s Groucho so who cares). There also might a slight Return of the Jedi nod as far as Betty’s outfit goes.

It’s a slower issue than normal, as Cliff has to figure things out. He’s not racing after Betty with believable speed–Langridge writes the characters differently. Cliff is a bit of a dunce. Betty’s the smarter one, which makes her constant peril an interesting contradiction.

The hero is the damsel in distress.

Even the villain’s big reveal scene works beautifully. Langridge and Bone work beautifully together.

The film has a lot of the Golden Age Hollywood feel to it. That Hollywood setting permeates throughout; it’s one of Langridge’s finest achievements on the book. He never forcibly includes the details.

CREDITS

In the Soup; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror 2 (March 2013)

901042Langridge really embraces the Thin Man tie-in. It’s without names, instead of him doing thinly veined homages. It’s a nice touch, sending Betty off on her own adventure without Cliff.

Actually, Betty’s got the much bigger story. She’s the one who has figured out there’s some creepiness with the Scientologist Cthulhu fan–sorry, Cosmicist–while Cliff’s basically just running around dumb. He’s on the run from Howard Hughes’s guys, who want to bring the jet-pack in for a tune up.

There’s some more great work from Bone this issue. He’s got a lot of Rocketeer action, some great reaction shots between Cliff and Betty; that whole vibe, from cartoon broadness to comic strip focus, continues here, if not amplifies.

While Langridge does follow the general IDW Rocketeer continuity, Hollywood Horror never feels forcibly tied in. They’re creating their own thing; so far, better than anyone else has done.

CREDITS

These Troubled Times; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror 1 (February 2013)

899169In the past, I think I’ve referred to J. Bone as some kind of Darwyn Cooke wannabe. I take it back. I regret making those statements, though Hollywood Horror seems to be a breakthrough for him.

He mixes old animation styles with comic strips to wonderful success. Even though she’s cartoony, Betty’s anger is real (and, since it’s Betty, her figure voluptuous). Cliff might be a square-jawed hero, but he’s real too–panic, excitement, aggravation.

As for Roger Langridge’s script, it’s unsurprisingly divine. There’s humor, there’s a fantastic “dear reader” narrative device, there are cameos from Nick and Nora Charles. Langridge and Bone also throw in a Einstein stand-in and some Lovecraft.

It’s fast and fun, with some amusing Rocketeer heroics–which the creators use to subtly add in direct references to the subplots.

There’s a lot going on–too much to even identify the main plot yet.

CREDITS

The Rocketeer vs. the Hollywood Horror; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom 4 (November 2012)

883924I went into this issue hopeful, I really did. I thought maybe Waid could do something besides Cliff flying around L.A. and killing a bunch of terrified animals.

He does do something else. It’s just not very good. Apparently Betty has been suspecting the sidekicks of being enemy spies–Sally and the black guy. It’s a little too subtle a suspicion because I didn’t get it until the wrap up of that subplot. I thought Betty was just being a shallow bitch.

Apparently, she’s a suspicious shallow bitch.

After four issues, she’s clearly one of the big problems with the franchise. She’s utterly unlikable at length and Cliff’s continued interest in her just makes him seem more shallow too.

IDW should’ve just released a single, wordless issue of Samnee’s Rocketeer versus dinosaurs art. There are some beautiful panels, page after page, in this issue.

Shame Waid’s words ruin it.

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Waid; artist, Chris Samnee; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Shawn Lee; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom 3 (October 2012)

881034It’s a good thing Samnee’s drawing this series–but especially this issue–because without him I’d forget I was supposed to be reading a Rocketeer comic.

The stuff at the hanger is all fine, but it’s the supporting cast jabbering to each other. Waid writes Peevy well, he even writes Betty well (though not enough to turn her into a real person) and Cliff’s new sidekicks continue to amuse.

But Cliff? Fighting dinosaurs and teaming up with some bad guys? It’s a disaster. Waid’s only got two good moments on the Cliff side and one’s not even his own. The bad guy asks Cliff to save his crew. It’s a neat moment.

The other is Cliff talking back to a supportive crowd. Very funny, but not really specific to the character. Feels more like a Spider-Man moment, actually.

And the way Cliff deals with the dinosaurs is just mean.

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Waid; artist, Chris Samnee; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Shawn Lee; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Scroll to Top