Rocketeer Adventures #1

Dave Stevens‘ “Rocketeer” comics were great retro-cool stories. They had excellent action, beautiful artwork — especially his acclaimed good girl art — and simple but cool stories. He died much too young in 2008. And IDW — bless their hearts, rapidly becoming one of my favorite comic book publishers — is starting a short series of comics paying tribute to Stevens’ stories.

What we’ve got here is three short stories about the Rocketeer and his friends — a spectacular little number by John Cassaday and Laura Martin, in which Cliff Secord has to save his Bettie-Page-lookalike girlfriend Betty from getting shot into space by, ironically, trying to shoot her into space; a story by Mike and Laura Allred focusing on Cliff and his supporting cast; and a tale by Kurt Busiek and Michael Kaluta that puts the emphasis on Betty — while Cliff is fighting the good fight overseas during World War II, Betty works on keeping spirits high stateside by performing in patriotic shows on Broadway. Plus there are pinups by Mike Mignola and Dave Stewart and by Jim Silke.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great high-flying adventure. My lone complaint about this issue? No reprints of any of Stevens’ classic stories. One of the covers features some of Stevens’ artwork (the one pictured above is by former Lubbock resident Alex Ross), but this is the kind of project that would benefit from letting us see the man’s storytelling for ourselves. Nevertheless, despite that one little quibble, it’s a great comic, and you should go grab it up.

Batman: Gates of Gotham #1

Looks like I’ll be taking a break from the “Batman and Robin” title, ’cause DC done gave that hack Judd Winick a shot at writing it, and if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s that hack Judd Winick. So here’s a Batman miniseries to keep us all happy ’til the hack’s gone again.

Someone’s stolen a heck of a lot of explosives and smuggled them into Gotham, and before Batman (in this case, Dick Grayson) can find out where it is, someone uses it to blow up three bridges in the city. Dozens of people are dead, despite the best efforts of Dick, Red Robin, Damian Wayne, and even Cassandra Cain, much beloved former Batgirl. In time, Dick learns that the Penguin probably had the explosives brought into the city for another buyer — but Oswald Cobblepot says he had no idea what the explosives for — and if he had, he wouldn’t have let the bombings happen, as one of the bridges was originally named for his family. In fact, the three bridges were once known as the “Gates of Gotham,” and the second bridge was once tagged with the Wayne family name. The third bridge’s original name, however, ties it to someone even more dangerous than Cobblepot.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Scott Snyder does some pretty good superhero mystery writing. My least favorite part of this is the end, when we bring in a villain I’ve never much cared for.

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