The Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom #1
Written by: Mark Waid
Art by: Chris Samnee
Colours by: Jordie Bellaire
Published by: IDW
Put on your wet gear before reading folks because this review is going to be gushing!!
I am a huge fan of Dave Stevens art and his character The Rocketeer. It’s such a nostalgia fest of 30′s and 40′s pop culture and idioms that you get swept up and lost in yesteryear’s simpler adventures. So when IDW announced that they were publishing a brand new adventure series of The Rocketeer (after the 2 successful anthology series featuring short stories and pin-ups done by some of the top names in comics) I was excited but nervous…..then they announced that it’d be written by Mark Waid with art by Chris Samnee and I lost all nervousness!
This series seems to suit Waid perfectly, and when you look at how much he knows about the history of DC Comics and see his recently auctioned collection of old comic books you understand why. The guy knows a lot about the 30′s and 40′s and sets the style and tone of this book accordingly.
‘The G-Man tried to…well… he tried to get fresh with me…’ is an example of the colloquial dialogue that Waid weaves into the story without making it come off as strained cheesy or corny. He is clearly a fan of Stevens’ creations and knows them well with each voice sounding like how the original creator would’ve wrote them back when The Rocketeer was first published.
The writer also keeps a light hearted and fun tone to the story but with moments of sinister undertones in a style that’s clearly influenced by the time period, when he gets artist Chris Samnee to draw the bad guy’s scenes you can almost hear the sinister piano music play as Samnee draws everything in Shadow and dark hues.
Of Course, now that I’ve mentioned him once I have to wax lyrical about one of my favourite modern artists Chris Samnee. Everything he draws is beautiful and this is no exception, he has a clear eye for what Waid is trying to achieve and what the tone of this book will be and brings it to life with a clean and expressive style that is cartoonish but not to the point of looking absurd. He is also another creator that understands and masterfully uses light and shadow depending on what’s needed so when Cliff and Peevy are outside working on planes, it’s during the day and everything is light and when the bad guys are plotting and there’s a hint of exposition and motive it’s dark with characters’ faces half in shadow. He plots a balance that, again, is influenced from old style movies and even the character moments look like something out of a re-coloured Casablanca or The Big Sleep.
At the mention of colour, I have to mention the colourist of this series, Jordie Bellaire, who brings a fantastic palette of stonewashed hues that emphasises Samnee’s character expressions and liveliness- their combination of pencils and colours on the final pages’ splash page is stunning!
First issues can be very formulaic and predictable, introducing the characters and the bad guys and setting up for what will pretty much happen in the whole series. Waid breaks away from this a little but still uses that equation as his backbone but provides character moments geared more towards fans of Stevens’ series but without confusing new readers. This series looks set to be a treat and I can’t wait to see what this team do together.