Created by industry legend Dave Stevens back in the early 1980s, the character was soon adapted into a feature movie. But Dave Stevens, while a ‘cult sensation’ known for his stunning illustration technique, never really broke big in the mainstream comic culture of the time. Neither did the Rocketeer, which has since receded further into “classic indie” status.
IDW hopes to change all that with this new volume and number #1 issue of Dave Stevens’s most famous character. Sadly, Stevens passed away in 2008 from leukemia, and this title will always lack a certain lush artistic element without him holding the pencil. Still, IDW has assembled a stellar team of the industry’s top talent, tasking each with one short tale featuring the high flying pulp hero!
John Cassaday is responsible for the first playful Rocketeer story. He is followed by Mike Allred, one of today’s creators who could be said to rival Dave Steven’s legendary cult classic status. This short story helps give new readers some background context for the Rocketeer, and though I’m more a fan of Cassaday’s realistic illustration technique, both creators do a fantastic job of quickly summing up the fun and lightheartedness that is such a key aspect of this character. The last short in this fantastic comic is by Kurt Busiek and Michael Kaluta. While it certainly is a fun story, it didn’t have quite enough of the silly-pulp that makes the Rocketeer such a classic-action read. It did have a lot of heart though, and was a good close to the comic.
The comic also features a few pin-ups, which work especially well given the era that the Rocketeer is set in, and seeks to evoke. It is still far too early to tell if this will be worth collecting on an ongoing basis, largely cause I suspect each issue will see a rotating line-up of guest artists, meaning the quality could vary drastically. Still, this and the 100 Penny reprint of the first Rocketeer serve as a great set-up for new readers to rediscover this classic character.