Writer: Stephen Mooney
Art: Stephen Mooney and Len O’Grady
Letterer: Shawn Lee
Publisher: IDW Comics
Release Date: April 6th, 2022
Dateline: 1938! War looms in Europe as The Rocketeer fights on, battling two-bit hoods, foreign spies, and mechanoid terrors with two fists, a pistol full of bullets, and his futuristic rocketpack! Watch out, Hitler, he may be coming for you next!
Now, in Rocketeer: The Great Race #1, the newest chapter of the Rocketeer’s adventures, he faces his greatest enemy: himself!
If you’re interested in this comic, series, related trades, or any of the others mentioned, then simply click on the title/link to snag a copy through Amazon as you read Rocketeer: The Great Race #1 Review.
Cliff Secord (AKA The Rocketeer) is having a crisis of self in Rocketeer: The Great Race #1. The issue opens with a wonderfully slam-bang battle with German spies on a farm(?!), and is every bit like something out of an old movie serial, right down to The Rocketeer striking a heroic pose at one point, his trademark pistol raised high.
Afterward, Cliff begins to wonder if he shouldn’t put away the rocketpack and get more serious with his girlfriend Betty. Dave Stevens, who created The Rocketeer and his cast of characters, modeled Betty after real-life model Bettie Page, and Stephen Mooney (who both writes and draws this issue) draws her to look exactly like Bettie Page, right down to Bettie’s cleft chin, pouty expressions and bangs dark as midnight. I’ve been a lifelong fan of Bettie Page, and it’s wonderful to see Mooney continue carrying on where Dave Stevens left off.
Midway through the issue, Cliff meets Delton Nkosi, a Howard Stark-type wealthy inventor who asks Cliff to fly his experimental plane in The Great Race, a race between aircraft that runs from California to Paris, France. Now, of course, that distance is nothing, but back then, that was a hell of a journey, so it’s interesting to watch Cliff deciding whether to do it or not, and I enjoyed his interplay with Betty and Peev, the old pilot who serves as his confidante and mechanic.
Betty is written with a lot more depth here than in the past, we get to see her working when she’s not with Cliff, and her conversations with Cliff show her playful side. In past Rocketeer stories, I felt she was portrayed as icy and distant, but here, she comes off as very warm and relatable.
A subplot involving Nazis is introduced also, which is destined to converge with Cliff’s path. Nazis always make great villains. Who doesn’t enjoy seeing Nazis get decimated? It’ll be interesting to see how the Nazi subplot is worked into the main plot of The Great Race.
Stephen Mooney’s art on Rocketeer: The Great Race #1 shines in every way, wonderfully capturing the look and feel of the late 1930s. His drawings of Betty (yes, her again) are stunning, and any fan of Bettie Page will appreciate how Mooney captures her essence in Betty’s character.
The technology of the era is conveyed perfectly in the art, with buttons, levers, and dials arrayed across planes and cars.
Clothing of the era is depicted well also, with women wearing the flowing dresses of that period, and men sporting the “baggy trousers” look.
Rocketeer: The Great Race #1 is a fantastic continuation of The Rocketeer’s saga. The Rocketeer, as well as his supporting cast, all shine throughout the book, with fun action sequences and the Nazi menace looming in the background. Reading the book was akin to watching one of those great old movie serials from a time long gone. Highly recommended.