After a stellar premiere issue last month, Rocketeer Adventures #2 continues to breath new life into Dave Stevens' classic characters.
The first story by Mark Waid and Chris Westen finds the Rocketeer's alter ego, Cliff Secord at odds with his girlfriend Betty over her new job at "Sally Rand's Nude Ranch." But what Cliff is really peeved about is the actor/model who openly admits that he's trying to steal Betty away from him. Cliff's plan to earn money by publicly coming out as the Rocketeer are also thwarted by the same actor, who shows up in public dressed like Aeroman… a comic book superhero who looks like a cross between Superman and Hawkman.
Westen's art seems to capture the flavor of Stevens' pages and his action sequences are excellently rendered. The setup for the story is one we've seen in The Rocketeer before: Cliff gets pissed about Betty posing naked, etc… Waid's story doesn't exactly shoot for the moon, but it does keep our hero grounded as his own actions backfire against him even when he saves the life of his rival. As a standalone short, it's okay if nothing special.
The second story is where things really take off. Darwyn Cooke steps in to write and draw a story told in the style of a classic serial. Starting the tale in the middle of an adventure, Cooke brings us "Episode 6: Betty Saves The Day!" In a single page of recap, Cooke brings the reader up to speed. Cliff's been shot and he can't fly himself and Betty away to safety from their out of control train car, leaving Betty with only one option: to become the Rocketeer herself!
The stunning splash page of Betty's superheroine debut (partially pictured above) is a concept that's been teased in Rocketeer fan art for years (even by professional artists). Most of the story centers around Betty's attempt to get the hang of flying while trying to saving Cliff's life. And like any good serial, it ends in another cliffhanger. There's not a lot that happens in the story itself, but it's easily the highlight of the issue.
And finally, the third story by Lowell Francis and Gene Ha pits Cliff against an unknown flying man, whose armor and weaponry seem to greatly outclass his own. Most of the action is juxtaposed against commentary from a boxing match; which is used to great effect as the battle goes in and out of Cliff's favor. It's kind of a no-brainer to have Cliff fight an evil version of the Rocketeer, but Francis and Ha are able to pull it off impressively. I should also mention colorist Dave Stewart, who handled all three of these tales with great skill. The entire comic is a thing of beauty throughout.
The first two issues of Rocketeer Adventures have been some of the most fun comics I've read all year. This may be the best comic book anthology on the market and a fitting way to keep the legacy of Dave Stevens alive. Now we just need IDW to bump it up to an ongoing series and give some of these creative teams more than eight pages to play with.
Crave Online Rating: 8.5/10