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The Rocketeer: Jet-Pack Adventures Book Review

The Rocketeer- Jet-Pack Adventures Book

The beloved jet pack comic character jumps into the land of novels with the uneven “The Rocketeer: Jet-Pack Adventures.”

In a surprising move, comic book publisher IDW has given Dave Stevens’ iconic comic creation “The Rocketeer” the novel treatment with a 10 story anthology book titled “The Rocketeer: Jet-Pack Adventures.” So, what all is in this book? Allow me to give you a breakdown of each of the ten stories.

“The Rocketeer: Jet-Pack Adventures” kicks off with Yvonne Navarro’s story “The Red, White, and Grey” which is arguably the best of the lot. In this adventure, Cliff and Betty embark on a getaway to Catalina Island where they meet and befriend author Zane Grey. Alas, this vacation doesn’t go exactly as planned as Cliff stumbles upon a bad guy with a jet pack, a shady German couple, and a mysterious research base. For my money, this story best captures the spirit of “The Rocketeer” and offers up a great sense of location to boot.

Next up is Don Webb’s “Nazis In Paradise” which juggles far too many ideas for its own good. In ‘Paradise,’ Howard Hughes hires Cliff to travel to Tibet to find an experimental Nazi plane. Unfortunately, the mission is cut short when Cliff crash lands in a veritable paradise (think “Lost Horizon”) where Cliff encounters, you guessed it, Nazis. There’s a bit more to the story than that, but I’m not one to spoil entire plots.

Gregory Frost’s “Farewell, My Rocketeer” is a rousing adventure in which Cliff is roped into helping treasure hunting goons. While perhaps a bit more Indiana Jones than Rocketeer at times, it’s still a fun period piece nonetheless.

Simon Kurt Unsworth’s “Atoll of Terror” is the least Rocketeer like tale of the bunch. With the plot about a scientist conducting horrific experiments like flying monkeys and Shark men for the Nazis, it feels more like an outlandish B horror movie than anything else.

“Sky Pirates of Rangoon,” written by Cody Goodfellow, would make for one heck of a movie or comic book, but on the written page, it doesn’t quite work. The story about Cliff encountering sky pirates on a cargo transportation job is far too visual for a prose story.

Nancy Holder’s “Rockets to Hell” is a strange, but involving story that contains Johnny Weissmuller (best known as Tarzan), a creature under a bridge, aliens, and a mad scientist. It’s all very disjointed and feels like several stories crammed into one, but it’s still a readable tale.

“Codename: Ecstasy” (written by Nancy A. Collins) is an absolute joy to read. In this outing, Cliff helps out actress Hedy Lamarr whose invention is being sought by the Nazis. This is a very clever story that properly utilizes all of the characters (including Betty and Peevy). The great cameos and winks at the future don’t hurt either.

Story number eight (“Flying Death”) is an odd one to be sure. Author Robert Hood’s plot about multiple flying Rocketeers, a UFO, a parallel world, and a second Cliff feels like a cross between “Sliders,” ‘The Twilight Zone,” and a mirror universe episode of “Star Trek.” It’s certainly outside of the box material, but I’m not quite sure it fits with “The Rocketeer.” With that said, it still holds your interest from start to finish.

Nicholas Kaufmann’s “Mask of the Pharaoh” is a well written whodunit involving Betty starring in a mummy movie, an alleged prop Egyptian mask, and murder. Not only does this story perfectly fit the Rocketeer era, but it’s also a clever throwback to old school Hollywood and classic horror films.

Last, but not least is Lisa Morton’s “The Rivet Gang” story about Cliff’s encounters with a group of thieving robbers known as The Rivet Gang. This is a pretty straight forward story, but there’s some poignant post-war messages in this one.

Since “The Rocketeer” is my absolute favorite comic book series and comic book movie, I was eager to dig into this book. Alas, as you can see from my above comments, “The Rocketeer: Jet-Pack Adventures” is a rather mixed affair. While some stories such as “The Red, White, and Grey” and “Codename: Ecstasy” are perfectly suited for the patriotic hero and his love Betty, other stories are overlong and veer a bit too far off from the world Dave Stevens created. One thing that was entirely consistent here, however, are the illustrations by Jay Bone. The cover art and the full page pieces that accompany each story are often more exciting than the stories themselves.

At the end of the day, I applaud IDW for experimenting with the Rocketeer property by creating a sort of pulp fiction book, but, in my humble opinion, “The Rocketeer” is still better suited for the comic page. I have no idea if IDW is planning any further comic stories, but hopefully they will return to the hood ornament to the comic pages someday.

October 8, 2014 - Posted by | Book review | , , , ,


  1. […] Nicholas Kaufmann’s “Mask of the Pharaoh” is a well written whodunit involving Betty starring … […]

    Pingback by Nicholas Kaufmann - A “Well Written Whodunit”! | December 24, 2014 | Reply

  2. […] At the back of the trade paperback, IDW has included a cover art gallery (which features some spectacular pieces by David Messina and Nick Bradshaw) as well as Lisa Morton’s complete short story titled “The Rivet Gang” which comes from the novel “The Rocketeer: Jet-Pack Adventues” (which I reviewed here 2 years ago: https://dvdcorner.net/2014/10/08/the-rocketeer-jet-pack-adventures-book-review/). […]

    Pingback by The Rocketeer At War Graphic Novel Review « DVD Corner's blog | August 18, 2016 | Reply

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