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The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror Hardcover Review

The Rocketeer- Hollywood Horror Hardcover

“Hollywood Horror” is the mini-series “The Rocketeer” fans have been waiting for.

When it comes to people’s favorite comic book characters, Batman, Spider-Man, and Superman tend to top most lists. While there’s no question that these characters are icons of the comic book world, none of those characters hold a special place in my heart like “The Rocketeer” does.

To say I’m a huge Rocketeer fan is a gross understatement. Ever since I saw “The Rocketeer” film in the summer of 1991, the character instantly captured my imagination. To this day, the film remains my favorite comic book movie and Dave Stevens’ comics are (in my humble opinion) some of the best superhero comics ever drawn/written.

When Stevens tragically passed away in 2008, I thought that was the end of the character. Unlike a Batman or a Superman, The Rocketeer was never a corporate entity. It was a fantastic one man comic creation that always left you wanting more. Thankfully, the good folks at IDW didn’t let the character fade into obscurity and have decided to hire new writers and artists to take on the ol’ hood ornament. One of the latest “The Rocketeer” releases (“Hollywood Horror”) is arguably the finest non Dave Stevens work yet.

From the heartfelt introduction by writer Roger Langridge, it’s clear that Langridge is a fan of “The Rocketeer” and the 30’s time period. His passion for these subjects definitely shows in this hardcover collection (complete with a dust jacket) of the 4 issue mini-series. The story is jam packed with references and appearances to iconic 30’s cinema characters and actors and actresses of the time period. Everyone from Clark Gable to Nick and Nora Charles (of “The Thin Man” films) is referenced here. Sure, it could have easily become a cameo fest, but Langridge cleverly uses all of the references and appearances to the story’s advantage. Nothing is wasted here.

As far as the story goes, it’s pretty simple stuff, but it stays true to the spirit of the characters and the source material. The bulk of the story involves a missing scientist and a villainous hypnotist named Otto Rune, but there are several key interconnected subplots involving Cliff and Betty’s relationship, two detectives, a missing reporter (who also happens to be Betty’s roomie) and employers of a mysterious individual that are trying to acquire the rocket pack for testing purposes. Of course, the always reliable Peev has a place in the story too.

The thing that impressed me the most about the story was the development of Cliff and Betty’s relationship. Yes, they still bicker and fight, but we see certain character motivations and desires here that give readers a deeper appreciation and understanding of the two leads.  I could go on, but readers should experience it for themselves.

In terms of the artwork, it’s certainly not like the art of Dave Stevens, but I don’t think I’d want to see someone try and replicate his work anyway. It’s best to see new artistic takes on these characters and that’s exactly what artist J Bone does. His art style is a cross between Mike Mignola mixed with the more cartoonish animated maquettes that have been hitting the shelves these past few years. Some people may be turned off by it, but I rather enjoyed it as it complements the script rather nicely.

Summary: From the revelation of the narrator to the Lovecraftian reference, “Hollywood Horror” had me grinning with joy from start to finish. This is a loving tribute to Dave Stevens’ characters and the Hollywood of old. A must buy.


August 28, 2013 - Posted by | Book review | , , , , ,

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