The Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom #1
Writer: Mark Waid, Artist: Chris Samnee
In my relatively short time reading comics, Mark Waid’s Daredevil has been the most consistent, most continuously enjoyable series I read. Recently, his work with Chris Samnee on the series has been excellent, so when I saw that they would be working on an IDW Rocketeer mini, I knew it would be a good time. I vaguely remember The Rocketeer movie from when I was a kid, but I know very little about the character; it’s a classic-throwback 30s and 40s adventure story (I remember it being dusty!) about a dude with a rocket backpack.
The Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom doesn’t require much more background than that. We are swiftly introduced to our main characters and everyone’s relationship is quickly and clearly established. A lot of credit for this goes to Samnee; he does fantastic character work and his facial expressions are great. They are a little bit cartoony, but they are also full of life. His art, combined with the fast moving script, allows us to take in a ton of information in this single issue. He’s a perfect fit for this throwback, pulpy story. The flying, rocketeer stuff is classic, and his conversations scenes are lively.
Waid is a great match for this character. While the setting could easily lend itself to something a little saccharine, he adds the needed bite. The opening test-flight-gone-wrong sequence is driven by the unwanted, aggressive advances of Mr. Feeney on pilot and mechanic Sally. When she kicks him off of her, he falls into the emergency door and sends a safety parachute fluttering into the propeller. We are also introduced to the mini’s baddies: The Master, his hoods, a brain washed lunatic, and a mysterious, deadly monster (the “cargo of doom”, presumably). The lunatic starts spazzing out when he realizes they are docking in Los Angeles and screams out “SOCORDDDD!” (the Rocketeers secret identity). We also get a beautifully illustrated and creepily off-putting final page that sets the stage for the next three issues.
Overall, this is a thoroughly enjoyable first issue to what should be a breezy, fun, and excellently illustrated mini. Between this and Godzilla: the Half-Century War, I’m really impressed with IDW. Great production, interesting creative teams. Based on these, I might have to dig into Locke & Key and see if that series is as good as people say it is.