Strap on your jetpacks, dawn your helmets and lets take to the skies in this month's Superhero Sunday with The Rocketeer.
Created in 1982 by writer-illustrator Dave Stevens, who first got work penciling for Tarzan (newspaper comic 1975) then getting recognized for is pin up work and later went on to storyboard for Hanna-Barera.
The Rocketeer is a fun adventure book that was birthed out of paying homageage to the old serials from the 1930s through 50s. The story first appeared as a backup issue in Starslayer for Pacific Comics. The four issue was released by Eclipse comics under the title Rocketeer.
The story takes place in a fiction 1938 Los Angeles, but who is this helmeted hero? Cliff Secord a racing stunt pilot (barnstormer) discovers a mysterious package hidden in his hanger. Gangsters fleeing the scene leave left a prototype jetpack that kickstarts Cliff's adventures and lead him on a jet fueled dream.
The 1980's comic contnued its fun for years as Cliff went on one-shot journeys and adventures as The Rocketeer. He would fight crime and rescue his main squeeze Betty (Dave Stevens modeled off of Bettie Page the Queen of Pin-Up). Cliff the lunkhead with the heart iof gold went on to fight Nazi's and the mobsters but every comic was great fun.
Why this hero?
As always I did not read the comic until well after its creation. I probably like most didnt dicsover The Rocketeer as a comic at all but instead as the 1991 Disney film. Yes, in the 90s Stevens approved Disney to adapt the comic into film. This movie is where I found the Rocketeer and was instantly in love with the character. The costume is this amazing suit that lets you fly around with an awesome helmet and you become this hero who saves the day, it was everything I wanted to be as a kid (maybe now too). After the movie I wanted to be The Rockteer and I was inspired to find those 80s comics.
The Rocketeer comic rights changed hands and went from Dark Horse to IDW. Dave Stevens passed in 2008 but the comic series was revived in 2011 by IDW with the talented writer Mark Waid, the book would recieve trades of collected new adventures. The Rocketeer is not the dense heavy work of Alan Moore nor is it Garfield. No, The Rocketeer is high flying fun and a real treat for anyone who wasn't wax nostalgic about 1930s-50s.