Jared Millet's Reviews > The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures

The Rocketeer by Dave Stevens
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's review
Feb 13, 11

bookshelves: graphic-novels, superheroes, pulp-fiction
Read from February 10 to 12, 2011

"The Rocketeer" is an infuriating graphic novel, because it makes you realize two things: 1) Dave Stevens is dead, and 2) he didn't produce very many comics when he was alive. As a period-piece pulp action adventure, the Rocketeer is astounding, and the artwork is breathtaking. This was truly one of the great hidden gems of the 80's independent comic scene - a little too well hidden, in my opinion. I was a comic book fiend when the movie came out in 1991, and I didn't learn until years later that it was actually based on a comic.

I see that a lot of reviewers on Goodreads complain about the lack of story. The problem is that collecting all the various Rocketeer strips into a single bound volume puts them in the wrong context - that of a unified graphic novel. These started out as 12-page backup comics that appeared in a variety of anthologies from an assortment of publishers, with an incredibly uneven and inconsistent publication schedule. In those conditions, Stevens had no way to know if the "next" chapter following any given issue would even see print, and had to assume that any given chapter was the first that an individual reader had come across. As such, he had to keep the narrative as simple as possible and throw everything he could into the art and the sense of adventure, which he did.

The Rocketeer ends abruptly, and it's obvious that Stevens had more stories to tell. Thank God and Dark Horse that the final chapter collected here finally did see print in 1995 (six years after the cliffhanger that led into it) or the Rocketeer may have truly been relegated to the dusty 25c-bins of history.
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