Written by Roger Langridge
Art by J Bone
I made my love for the Rocketeer revival pretty well known with my Cargo of Doom review. Since that time, I’ve also read the original Dave Stevens Rocketeer stories, which I highly recommend. Hollywood Horror takes the series in a very different direction from Cargo of Doom, but doesn’t falter at all in quality.
Betty, Cliff’s girlfriend, gets tired of playing second fiddle to the Rocketeer. When her roommate sends a frantic call after investigating into the Cosmicism preacher Otto Rune, she decides to investigate into him—and of course, so does Cliff, as the Rocketeer.
What shines through most in Hollywood Horror is Langridge’s love of Golden Age Hollywood, starting with the fact that this story is dialed down. There’s no dinosaurs on a rampage in the streets of LA here, only traditional villains and heroes. And it also moves at a slower pace than Cargo of Doom. This doesn’t make it any less fun, it’s just more about a central mystery than about over-the-top moments. It’s closer to the kind of fun mystery that might have been in the Thin Man movies. And that’s not really too left field, considering that Nick and Nora Charles are prominent characters here. No, they’re never mentioned by name, and anybody not familiar with them can easily just think they’re a random detective couple, but it’s a nice nod of the hat by Langridge. Most importantly, he writes the characters well, along with the narrator, who also turns out to be a notable Hollywood celebrity. But even with the cameos, the focus is still on Cliff and Betty. And Betty does get to be a little more than the damsel in distress that she normally ends up as, which is always a good thing to see. We also get to see Cliff evolving ever more into the role of the hero. He tends to slide on the scale from “kind of a jerk” to “outright heroic”, and he’s farther on the latter side here. When his rocket pack is taken away, he continues to be the hero, and that’s what makes him so endearing.
J Bone’s artwork is also notably different. That’s kind of the fun here, to see a completely different creative team take over Rocketeer. So while Samnee’s art from Cargo of Doom paid a little more tribute towards pulp films, Bone goes more towards being fairly cartoony. Not overly so, but the goons are more goonish, Otto Rune is unmistakably the evil villain. His artwork fits the story being told here: a fun story of black and white morality where you know good is going to win, and you’re just interested to see how good wins.
Hollywood Horror continues the winning streak out of IDW’s Rocketeer revival. If you’re looking for pure fun in your comics, this is the place.