Friday, January 10, 2014

The Rocketeer/The Spirit: Pulp Friction

Written by Mark Waid
Art by Paul Smith (#1 and 2) and Loston Wallace (#3 and 4)

            What else can I say about IDW’s Rocketeer revival?  Seriously, this has been gold from the start and it shows no sign of slowing down.  The latest series, Pulp Friction, takes the liberty of crossing him over with The Spirit, and there is no disappointment here.
            Television is about to rise, and Benjamin Trask wants to keep it private.  A Central City councilman tries to oppose this, and ends up dead the next day…3000 miles away, in Los Angeles.  From there, The Spirit flies out to investigate, and The Rocketeer gets involved in the investigation as well…when the two aren’t just butting heads.
            It’s a pretty classic team-up formula, and what the hell, it still works.  If you enjoy Silver Age comics where the characters team up, get upset with each other, but then end up becoming friends and working together to solve the crime, you’re going to enjoy this.  And the two distinct styles of the heroes come together well here.  I don’t know much about the Spirit outside of the awful movie, but the story introduces him well, and shows that he is more of the detective type, against Rocketeer’s sci-fi and pulp-ish plots, and the two come together here.  It also gives each plenty of time for their own personal styles of action: Rocketeer with a battle against planes shooting up his airport, and Spirit with plenty of fisticuffs.
            The artist switch does rather affect the comic.  They both have a fairly fun style, but while Paul Smith keeps an edge of realism, Wallace’s art is a little more over-the-top (a character who’s bald and big becomes much more rotund in the latter two issues).  I actually prefer Wallace’s art for this book, as it takes away any sort of expectation of realism or seriousness here.  Don’t get me wrong, Smith’s art is good, but Wallace’s shows that this is just a book that wants to be fun.

           Five miniseries, not including Dave Stevens’ original comic, and the Rocketeer is still going strong.  Seriously, I’m running out of ways to describe how much of a joy it is every time a new miniseries comes out.  Start anywhere, just start reading them.

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