Published on December 23rd, 2015 | by JCDoyle0
The Rocketeer At War #1 Review
A declaration that America is entering the Second World War following the attack on Pearl Harbour introduces this new Rocketeer mini-series and then the action starts.
(warning; some mild spoilers ahead, I’ll try to bury them beneath explosions and Nazi’s)
Firstly we see the Rocketeer himself in the middle of a dangerous training exercise, testing the rocket pack while the military experts look on. Unfortunately not everything goes well in an opening shocker that will make you hold your breath just for a moment; but not really because, despite the title of chapter one, I doubt anyone will kill the hero off with in the first few pages.
The story then shifts to the beaches of Africa where Clifford Secord has come face to face with the German infantry. Here, Marc Guggenheim tells a very typical adventure/war tale that suits the Rocketeer down to the ground. The pages are filled will mindless Nazis, heroic action and even the rescue of Fly Girl who makes Secord’s heart flutter a little bit too much. The story is a well-paced opening to a mini-series, introducing the setting while establishing the central characters. A surprising amount of time is spent on Secord’s characterisation, especially as he is the only character the readers might recognise from previous Rocketeer comics (Betty makes a brief appearance thanks to a letter that Cliff has received). Guggenheim shows Secord at his best and his worst; in one scene he saves his friend at the potential cost of his own life but then in another he’s silently chanting to himself as a reminder that he has a girlfriend while his eyes wander all over the female pilot he rescued. Secord has always been a flawed character, it’s one of the attractions of the comic, he’s jealous and moody and over protecting of Betty while at the same time he flirts outrageously but in the end he always does the right thing. The problem writers have with him is that the stories tend not to follow on in any meaningful way so each time he’s back at the start, as if previous lessons no longer apply. This can make some of his moves tiresome, like his overt attraction to Lieutenant O’Hara, but in the confines of this story as a standalone piece, Secord still has time to win the reader over. All in all, it’s a pretty standard adventure story, nothing outstanding or particularly original but entertaining enough for an opener.
Unfortunately, where this comic falls down is in the art department. Positives first; the layouts are fantastic and almost cinematic in style with a great use of perspective for the action sequences. There is a feel of storyboarding to the action and it’s possible to image how this story would work on the big old silver screen of the 1940’s. The artwork within the panels however is disappointing. The characters are bland and for the most part do not reflect the characters they are portraying and the figure work is either extremely stiff like cardboard cut outs or unreasonably flexible as if they have been replaced by Reed Richards.
As a fan of the Rocketeer I found the illustration a let-down and I didn’t identify with either Secord or the brief glimpse of Betty, they didn’t represent the characters I’ve grown to love over the years. I’ve read a number of different comics by a number of different Artists and this is the first time I’ve not recognised the heroes in the artwork.
The story was average and the Art was less than the usual standard I expect from a Rocketeer comic therefore, I found the comic disappointing. If the story doesn’t improve, become something spectacular, this may be the first Rocketeer adventure I can’t follow.
Title: The Rocketeer at War
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Story: Marc Guggenheim
Art: Dave Bullock