Rocketeer Adventures, published by IDW, is a series that showcases short stories about pilot Cliff Secord, his girlfriend Betty, and the adventures he gets into with the jet pack he wears as The Rocketeer. These shorts are of (generally) high quality and are written and illustrated by some heavy hitters in the comics industry, including John Cassaday, Michael Allred, Kurt Busiek, and Darwyn Cooke. They are generally set in the 1930s and ’40s and depict a generally advanced level of rocketry and technology relative to the real ’30s and ’40s. Not counting the extra-dimensional short, the stories are mostly grounded in that sort of reality.
Both volumes of Rocketeer Adventures have high quality art and reasonably well written stories. Generally these stories are wrapped up tightly at the end. One, however, introduces Adele Bergen, a female who studied at Purdue university and became a Nazi counterpart to the Rocketeer, and suggests future interactions down the road.
The art of Rocketeer Adventures really shines. As a big fan of the aforementioned Cassaday, Allred, and Cooke, as well as of Bill Sienkiewicz, I was pleased to see that their art holds up in short doses. All of the characters that appear are illustrated with fun in mind. Cassaday has the first story and it definitely feels like a pulp serial. This is a good thing! You’ve got damsels going up in rockets and being saved at the last minute. It’s ’30s and ’40s Americana through and through. That being said, it has those elements of sexism that ’30s and ’40s America had, though the modern authors (and the original creator—recall that the Rocketeer was created in the early ’80s to resemble a pulp character from the ’30s to the ’50s) temper it, making Betty more than just a damsel in distress.
Some of the creators inject the essential themes of their more well-known stories. For example, Michael Allred, known for Madman, illustrates in his normal style, but gives Secord the same sort of gee-whiz characteristics that Madman has. He also portrays the relationship between Secord and Betty in a similar way as Madman and his significant other are portrayed in Allred’s other comics. This should not be a negative point, however, as the sheer number of creators featured in these volumes, and the cultural importance of The Rocketeer, ensures that most public and academic libraries that have an adult-focused collection should have a place for this on their shelves.
Rocketeer Adventures Volumes 1 and 2
by John Cassaday and Many Many More
Vol. 1 ISBN: 978161377034
Vol. 2 ISBN: 9781613774014