Archive for Rocketeer

Fun with Freaks!

Well, I never read any of “Flashpoint,” so you won’t get a review of that here. And I’m not a big fan of Geoff Johns anymore — I don’t like Brian Michael Bendis at Marvel, so why should I want his new clone working at DC? — so I didn’t pick up the new “Justice League” either. But don’t worry — there were plenty of other comics released this week…

The Goon #35

A new issue of “The Goon!” And it’s written by Evan Dorkin! The Goon and Franky stumble onto a creepy circus called Brigadoon’s Dreamland Carnival — and the entire thing is run by sideshow freaks! The freaks accept both Franky and the Goon — because heck, why wouldn’t they? But while looking around the carnival, our heroes discover that the entire thing is geared around torturing and murdering innocent normals. That’s too rotten for even Franky to stomach, but can even the Goon survive the Midgets of All Nations, the Ossified Man, or the monstrous Ten-in-One?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very good, very funny, and fantastic action. Evan Dorkin and Eric Powell should team up much more often, ’cause this was the most fun I’ve had reading a comic in ages.

Secret Avengers #16

So they said, “Hey, Scott, Warren Ellis is gonna be writing the ‘Secret Avengers’ comic.” And I said, “Yeah, sign me up for that.”

Our team includes Steve Rogers, Hank McCoy, the Black Widow, and Moon Knight. They’ve been sent on a mission deep underground, in one of the secret cities of the late and unlamented Secret Empire, because they’ve detected Von Doom Radiation — one of the radioactive emissions of time travel. They soon learn that a group called the Shadow Council has taken over the city and built a time machine large and powerful enough to annihilate the city above it — and any other city on the planet. Can four people stop an army and eliminate this threat to the planet?

Verdict: Ehh, kinda on the fence about this one. The action is good, the scale of the threat is impressive, and the dialogue seemed fine. But I just didn’t find myself as charged up about it as I expected. Maybe I got my hopes up too high?

Rocketeer Adventures #4

The anthology tribute to Dave Stevens‘ grand retro-pulp action hero wraps up with a trio of tales. First, Dave Gibbons and Scott Hampton take us beachside as the Rocketeer tries to save a champion surfer’s rare heirloom surfboard. Next, Joe Pruett and Tony Harris bring us a story of Cliff Secord’s trip under the sea as he takes on a Japanese submarine. And finally, John Arcudi and Brendan McCarthy introduce us to the Aeronaut, a Nazi rocketeer with a superior version of Cliff’s suit.

Verdict: Thumbs up. All the stories were a bucket of fun, with wonderful art and tons of outstanding pulp-hero action. My lone complaint about this issue — as it’s been with every issue of this series — is that we don’t get any of Dave Stevens’ classic stories to enjoy.

The Amazing Spider-Man #668

With tons of New Yorkers discovering their own spider-powers, Spider-Man is at a distinct disadvantage — his fellow superheroes can’t tell the difference between his imitators and the real deal! So the Wall-Crawler gets benched, but he still figures out a way to help — pretending to be just an ordinary New Yorker who’s discovered new spider-powers, he makes a video calling for other empowered New Yorkers to come help fight the bad guys. And of course they do — in droves. Swarms, even. Mayor J. Jonah Jameson deputizes everyone, and Peter Parker and his girlfriend Carlie Cooper get put in charge of weaponizing Spidey’s old high-tech costumes and later realize that the Jackal is probably behind all of this. How much trouble are they going to get into inside one of Miles Warren’s old hideouts? Probably a lot…

Verdict: Thumbs up. The story behind this seems to be developing pretty well. We get some great action, fun dialogue, and a lot of crazy superheroics. This one has been a lot more fun than I was expecting.

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Bulletin Bored

I gotta say — last week was one of the best single weeks for comics I’ve enjoyed in quite a while. I felt like every comic I picked up was grand fun and worth reading and re-reading.

This week was the exact opposite. Lots of stuff seemed competently written — but nearly all of it just simply bored me. There were some bright spots here and there — I’ll review them next week — but on the whole, just depressingly boring stuff.

So let’s get after it.

Power Girl #26

Dark Confession: Even though I still hate Judd Winick, I finally went and read the trade paperback of the “Power Girl” comics he worked on. Hey, I was depressed that there’d be no Power Girl in the DC Reboot, so I decided I’d give it a shot. And it was pretty good, so I figured I’d give the last couple issues a shot.

In this issue, PeeGee attends the first ever Power Girl fan convention, filled with tons of girls cosplaying as her. She looks on it as an opportunity to encourage young women to have positive self-images, to confront low-level evil where they can, and to uphold general feminist principles. The whole convention gets highjacked into outer space by a space alien disguised as a convention-goer — her planet is under siege by invaders, and she wants to duplicate Power Girl’s powers for herself. Of course, there’s a chance that the other fans can help Power Girl stop the villain.

Verdict: Thumbs down. It was entirely competent work, but — dangit, it was just boring.

Rocketeer Adventures #3

More pulp-action tales starring the Rocketeer and his girlfriend Betty, with stories by Ryan Sook, Jonathan Ross, and Tommy Lee Edwards, pinups by Stephanie Buscema and Joe Chiodo, and a prose story by Joe R. Lansdale, illustrated by Bruce Timm.

Verdict: Some outstanding art here, but ultimately thumbs down. It was boring.

Tiny Titans #42

Bizarro Supergirl makes her first appearance. She gets romanced by Match, while Beast Boy dodges rocks thrown by Terra all issue. We also get a brief glimpse of the Bizarro Tiny Titans.

Verdict: Thumbs down. What, even my beloved Tiny Titans? Yes, thumbs down. It was boring.

Criminal Macabre/The Goon: When Freaks Collide

Well, “Criminal Macabre” is about a guy named Cal McDonald who hangs out with a ghoul named Mo’Lock, and they hunt monsters. Both of them get kidnapped to some kind of otherworld at the same time as the Goon and Franky, famed for their drinking and face-punching, get kidnapped to the same place. While the Goon and Cal beat up on each other, Franky and Mo’Lock go exploring. Will beating up hordes of monsters give all our heroes their chance to go home?

Verdict: Thumbs down. There was a nice “Little Rascals” gag and a nice final-page reveal — but on the whole, it was boring.

Batman: Gates of Gotham #3

Well, there’s a lot of historical stuff about Gotham, and some guy trying to blow up the city because his ancestors got a rough deal, and the various members of the Bat-family squabbling and working together, and I’m not sure there’s much else I can say about it.

Verdict: Thumbs down. I mean, it’s all perfectly well done, and just about any other time, I’d probably be enjoying this. But I just plain thought it was boring.

Avengers Academy #16

I missed an issue of this one somewhere down the line. The Academy members have been dragged into the Fear Itself crossover. The Absorbing Man and Titania have acquired magical hammers that give them godlike powers and mostly over-write their personalities with the minds of ancient gods. But the Absorbing Man has somehow shaken that off, and he’s giving some serious whupass to Hank Pym. Elsewhere, Veil is trying to save a little girl’s mother, but how will she react when victory is stolen from her at the last moment?

Verdict: Thumbs down. It was boring.

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In the Name of Godzilla

Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #4

We get introduced to a new spotlight character this issue — Steven Woods, depressed Gulf War vet. He’s down about how shallow society has gotten — and then the rise of the monsters starts to upset almost everything. In France, we see Battra laying waste to the countryside, at the behest of two creepy twins with psychic powers, who soon crown themselves the new Queens of France. Meanwhile, Godzilla and Anguirus are heading for a showdown in Los Angeles.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Part of what has been most interesting about this series has been writer Eric Powell’s extremely cynical outlook on modern society and pop culture. He’s not a fan of Lady Gaga, Jersey Shore, news anchors, or materialism — is this series his attempt to take what he sees as a corrupted, decaying society and wipe it out with giant monsters? Or is all of this just funny background for the story?

Rocketeer Adventures #2

We get some fun stories from Mark Waid and Chris Weston, about the Rocketeer saving an actor posing as a superhero and inadvertently making him even more successful; Darwyn Cooke in a story appropriately titled “Betty Saves the Day!”; and Lowell Francis and Gene Ha, about Cliff Secord taking on a far-stronger and better equipped opponent in a desperate aerial battle.

Verdict: Thumbs up. But far and away the most awesome thing in this issue is the Darwyn Cooke story, which is every bit as awesome and fun as everything else he’s ever done.

Super Dinosaur #3

Super Dinosaur and Derek Dynamo have the Exile on the ropes, but he manages to make an escape, submerging his entire base under the Arctic ice. While the heroes return home, we get introduced to one of the Exile’s allies, a great-looking character called Squidious — and Terrordactyl really dislikes being cooped up underwater, so he eventually busts out so he can get some air-time. And once he leaves the base, the Dynamos can track him, so Derek and Super Dinosaur pursue him in a fancy jet-rig. But can a couple of newcomers to the world of flight hold out against a dinosaur who’s used to the air?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Actually, this issue is much improved over previous issues, mainly because Derek quits pronouncing everything as “AWESOME!” That really got extremely tiring, and removing it makes the comic much more fun to read.

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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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Rocketeer creator dies


Dave Stevens, creator of “The Rocketeer,” has died.

Born in Lynwood, CA on July 29th, 1955, Stevens is best known for his work on his creator-owned The Rocketeer, which was first published in as a backup in Mike Grell’s Starslayer in 1982. Stevens’ style, which was wholly his own, but owed much to pulp artists of the earlier part of the 20th century was loved by his many fans, while his story merged the pulp sensibility with a modern sensibility.

Stevens’ first professional comic work was inking Russ Manning’s pencils for the daily Tarzan comic strip starting in 1975. Dave always kept at least one finger in comics while he was working on storyboards or animation, providing covers for Comico’s Jonny Quest series or other work.

The Rocketeer appeared in small installments throughout 1982 to 1995, and was turned into a film in 1991 by Walt Disney Pictures. The comic book version, in its way, helped usher in the re-popularization of Bettie Page.

I always loved Stevens’ beautiful retro artwork. His work on “The Rocketeer” was at the very bleeding forefront of the rebirth of pulp, and he influenced so many other artists. Hats off, folks.

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