It’s the fourth installment of IDW Publishing’s revamped Rocketeer series already and, to be honest, I’m still not sure where they’re taking it. I’m not even sure I like what they’re doing to the much beloved pulp superhero.
It’s not so much the fact that every story they change writers and artists that irks me. There is a lot of talent out there and it’s great that different people get a stab at The Rocketeer. As long as they’re competent storytellers and make excellent art, I’m fine with it.
What also pleases me is that after two compilations of chronologically jumbled short stories, which were frankly ranging from spectacular to disturbing low quality, they have gone to releasing four comic issue stories, which they release in a lovely hardcover compilation a few months later. This makes it easy for collectors, especially those without reliable comic book stores to buy the separate paper issues.
No, what bothers me to no end is the utter lack of chronology. It really enrages me to the point where I literally only keep buying this because I love the Rocketeer. I no longer look forward to the next issue but wonder what kind of fuck-up IDW Press will have pulled this time. What time will it be set in? How badly will they have busted chronology this time? Will the story and art be any good? Or will it be craptastic like some of the stories in volumes 1 and 2?
For instance, volume 3, Cargo of Doom , is set in 1940 and ended with an opening right into the next story. It had great art, it was an awesome story and I’m sure many readers were looking forward to read how it would unfold. You’d think they’d take it to the next level in Volume 4, Hollywood Horror right?
Sadly, you’d be wrong.
While the story written by Roger Langridge is pretty cool and definitely Rocketeer-worthy, the art by J. Bone just doesn’t reach the same level as that of Chris Samnee in the last volume.
That aside, it is not the much-anticipated continuation of the storyline started in Cargo of Doom. No, it is a new story altogether that has literally nothing to do with what they started and it’s set in, wait for it, 1939.
Yes, IDW Publishing does it again and royally screws over the chronology. So basically the right way to read these stories is: Hollywood Horror (4) first, then Cargo of Doom (4), then, well, just try to match in the short stories in the first two compilations, because we know those are jumbled up beyond belief.
I love that IDW has brought back the Rocketeer, but for the love of all that is great about dieselpunk, please respect your timelines and art quality! Don’t mess the fans about like this.
Rant aside, like I said, I really did like the story of Hollywood Horror. I won’t delve into details as I don’t want to spoil it for those that haven’t read it yet. Suffice to say, if you love old0school, over-the-top pulp fiction with intrigue, damsels in distress, villains with tricks up their sleeve and a strong cast of characters all around, you’ll love this. If you just love the Rocketeer, go for it too.
Let’s hope IDW pulls their act together and actually goes for fantastic art and storytelling in every single issue and returns to a chronology that makes sense. Then the new Rocketeer series would be perfect and not just a mix of awesome and frustration.