Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror #1
Written by Roger Langridge
Art by J Bone
Colors by Jordie Bellaire
Letters by Tom B. Long
Review by Joey Braccino
“An ALL-NEW Adventure in a Grand Old Tradition!!!”
We have a special affinity for Rocketeer comics here at Talking Comics. IDW Publishing has capitalized on a recent resurgence of interest in “old-fashioned,” pulp-inspired storytelling by releasing several Rocketeer mini-series and collections over the last few months helmed by some of the best of the best in the comics industry. Last Fall’s Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom mini featured some stellar throwback writing from Mark Waid and some glorious cartooning from the exceptional Chris Samnee. Our very own Bob Reyer adored** that mini, and I’m happy to say that this week’s Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror mini-series provides just as much excitement, humor, and vintage visuals as the classic Dave Stevens’ yarns from the mid-‘80s.
**“Adored” might be an understatement—check out Mr. Reyer’s review here!!!
In this issue, Cliff Secord, Peevy, and Betty stumble into a harrowing, horrifying Hollywood mystery!!! In traditional Rocketeer fashion, the action is high-flying, the thugs brutish, the megalomaniacal masterminds massively menacing, and the ladies pin-up lovely!!!
Roger Langdridge takes the reins on this mini-series, with artist J Bone picking up pencils and inks. The stupendous Jordie Bellaire stays on as colorist from Cargo of Doom, maintaining a visual aesthetic across the books. Langridge is the perfect writer for the Rocketeer mythos. His work on the canceled-too-soon, Silver-Age-inspired Thor: The Mighty Avenger series (incidentally with artist Chris Samnee) featured some of the best storytelling in superhero comics this side of the new millennium. In Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror, Langridge demonstrates an uncanny grasp on the voice and character of 1939 Hollywood. Throughout this debut issue, Langridge successfully catches new readers up to the Rocketeer continuity through some clever narration and a quick succession of character-establishing scenes. Cliff Secord, Betty, Peevy, and our primary antagonist, Mister Rune, are all introduced and reintroduced quickly and concisely. We know who the good guys and who the bad guys are from their first appearance on panel, and some of that simplicity owes itself to the “Grand Old Tradition” that Langridge channels in the pages of Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror.
J Bone’s artwork on this issue blends the Mid-20th century cartooning aesthetic with four-colored horror-pulp. I’m a sucker for artwork that diverges from the contemporary house styles of gritty and/or hyper-realism. Whereas Chris Samnee’s regular linework evokes more of a pulp feel, J Bone’s curvy, thick inks evoke comparisons to classic Archie comics. Jordie Bellaire’s vibrant colors facilitate this similarity even more. The overall aesthetic is perfect for Rocketeer’s throwback setting, and helps cement the all-ages appeal of the book (despite Betty’s extended sequence in her skivvies!).
Buy it. Rocketeer is one of those franchises that everyone knows about but few people read. IDW Publishing has been releasing several Rocketeer comics over the last few months in an effort to remedy this pop cultural shortcoming. After Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s stellar Cargo of Doom mini, Roger Langridge and J Bone pick up with another promising run with Cliff Secord, Peevy, and Betty! Check out the Hollywood Horror now!