Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom

Written by Mark Waid
Art by Chris Samnee
            The Rocketeer is a character I knew absolutely nothing about before reading the recent Rocketeer Adventures series.  If you had asked me before reading, I would’ve just shrugged and said I’d heard of the movie.  Afterwards, I realized that this is the current incarnation of the fun adventure character, and Cargo of Doom is just fun adventure.
            A mysterious villain has plans involving the destruction of New York, and his henchman thinks those plans would be even better with jetpacks.  So he decides to try and steal Cliff Secord’s, aka The Rocketeer, which only ends up getting him involved as he has to stop the plan.  And what is the cargo of doom?
            It’s dinosaurs.  Dinosaurs from Skull Island.  Yes, that means it’s in continuity with King Kong.  And it is absolutely awesome.  While I found the first issue a bit of a slow start storywise, since it’s mainly just setting things up and getting new readers familiar with the characters, the next 3 issues pick up considerably, culminating with The Rocketeer shooting dinosaurs.  This is not a thoughtful book.  But it perfectly captures the adventure that we love from movies like Indiana Jones.  The hero is good, the villain is evil, and the dinosaurs are giant rampaging lizards.  It has a nice sense of humor along the way, especially a panel showing the dinosaurs using jetpacks that may qualify as one of the greatest comic panels ever.  The nice thing is that it never winks or nudges at the reader.  It knows that anybody who’s going to enjoy this story is just going to have a blast and it doesn’t need to make it campy or silly.  It’s not serious, but it doesn’t feel like it’s trying too hard.
            Chris Samnee’s art is a nice complement to the writing.  It’s stylized just right so that it’s almost cartoonish without being over-the-top.  It captures the mood perfectly.  The action scenes are also very well done.  Despite everything that’s going on, it never gets confusing.  It’s just good art.
            If you like an adventure that’s funny, exciting, and/or contains dinosaurs, this is a must-read.  The revival of The Rocketeer just makes me want to go back and experience the original comic, and I hope IDW keeps it up.

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