I am a fan of the Rocketeer. I liked the comics when Dave Stevens did them, I absolutely love the movie and would love to see more of the character, at least if done well.
But IDW has been making new stories with the character and in general, they’ve been very well done. I’ve reviewed a couple so far and they’ve gotten top marks.
So can this series do it again? Read on and find out.
But honestly, as much as I’ve generally liked the IDW takes on Cliff Secord and his rocket pack, this one just feels like it missed the mark. I mean, it’s a great concept, Cliff goes to war to fight the Nazis, leaving behind his jet pack so the American government can duplicate it for the war effort. But apparently, no one but Cliff can actually use the thing. So Uncle Sam brings it back and sends Cliff and a female RAF pilot on a top secret mission, but when Cliff’s girlfriend Jenny gets kidnapped, can they stop the Nazis and help win the war?
And that sounds amazing, but it just comes off as very disjointed. Cliff is just a mechanic in Europe. His pack is gone. So he’s just a guy. That’s not what I signed on for. Oh, he eventually gets it back but too much time is spent with him just being Cliff Secord, boy mechanic. And frankly, once he does get his rocket pack back, his interaction with the Axis powers comes off too reckless. Yes, this is an homage to old school heroic matinees, but it felt very odd to have this guy dodging bullets in the skies and pushing around mines underwater. Sure, he’s always been somewhat reckless, but this seems dangerously so.
I mean really, this just comes off feeling like a generic Nazi story. Sure, you get Kaptain Blitzkreig, but he’s just a Nazi version of Rocketeer. Peevy shows up for a couple of panels but he feels shoehorned in. “Oh, they forced me to come back, let me fix up your equipment, then I’ll vanish again!” Peevy is there, only because Peevy needs to be there. Jenny is there, only because Jenny needs to be there. The jealousy subplot really isn’t very worthwhile either. Cliff keeps saying “I have a girlfriend! I have a girlfriend!” whenever Roxy is around, but he’s never seriously interested and even though she flirts with him, she’s not seriously interested either.
I really wanted to like this more than I did. I love the characters, I love the action, but seriously, the whole thing is just bland. It’s generic war story against generic Nazis, putting the girlfriend in peril because… that’s what you do in one of these stories.
That said though, there’s a backup story that is really, really fantastic. I’d really rather have seen a whole mini-series about the Rivet gang, or have the Nazi story be the backup and this would have been a lot more enjoyable. Come on IDW, give us more of this kind of thing, please!
So if you like Rocketeer like I do, you’ve already read this. If you’re on the fence and have never read a Rocketeer story though, this is probably not where I’d suggest you start. Go back to the original Dave Stevens stories, or even the earlier IDW stories and then, when you’re well-versed in the mythology, take a look at this series. It’s good, it’s just not great. It’s exciting, it’s just not exhilarating. It’ll satisfy a fan. It might not make a new one though.