Forty years ago a surprise hit late 1930s-era character arrived as a backup feature in Mike Grell’s Starslayer series from Pacific Comics. Writer/artist Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer would become a sci-fi favorite, and a unique homage to 1930s to 1950s Saturday serial adventures. This week Penguin Random House and IDW Publishing are releasing the ultimate look at The Rocketeer in an anniversary year that has included a new series and an artists’ edition. The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures Deluxe Edition is more than a reprint of Stevens’ Eisner Award-winning, complete collection of The Rocketeer comics. The new giant hardcover adds more than 100 pages of additional material—sketches, preliminary page roughs, penciled and inked cover and page art, final cover reprints, and a lot more. Just in time for the holidays, it’s for every fan of The Rocketeer (and Bettie Page!) and you can pre-order it now here at Amazon.
If you only know the 1991 movie starring Billy Campbell and Jennifer Connelly, you might also not know that Dave Stevens’ original story co-stars Bettie Page–the actual pin-up model–as a character, as the girlfriend of down-and-out stunt pilot Cliff Secord. It’s such an odd idea and yet it works perfectly. Expect to see several racy pin-ups with the very George Bailey-esque character as they become a couple and Cliff becomes the helmeted hero with the experimental jetpack.
Reminiscent of Mike Grell’s artistic style in the era of his Green Arrow series, the stories’ visuals are flawless, bright, exciting, and all-out fun. And the stories are a mix of mid-twentieth century Americana and sensibilities, set in pre-war rural America of the 1930s. Hero Cliff himself is a bit of a progenitor to Chuck Yeager, and the stories have the feel of the often-forgotten Steven Spielberg airplane romance movie Always.
We’ve seen a lot of alternate history stories from World War II, so this unique setting saw Stevens really owning this niche of the sci-fi genre. The artwork has all the war era styles and early 20th century brand of steampunk. The story–and this new collection–should be well-received by Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow fans, too (don’t forget to check out Kevin Conran’s book about the movie reviewed here earlier this year, a film that debuted 20 years after The Rocketeer).
Don’t miss Dave Stevens’ award-winning stories in The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures Deluxe Edition. Pre-order it today from Elite Comics or here at Amazon, arriving this Tuesday in bookstores and comic shops everywhere.
C.J. Bunce / Editor / borg