Book Review: The Rocketeer, Hollywood Horror


The Rocketeer Hollywood Horror

It’s the fourth instalment 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, I’m not terribly bothered by that because 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 story tellers 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 truly disturbing low quality, they have gone to releasing 4 comic issue stories, which they release in a lovely hard cover compilation a few months later. This makes it easy for collectors, especially those without reliable comic book stores to buy the separte thing paper issues. Plus let’s face it, a hardcover is just nice on your bookshelf.

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 and don’t look forward to the next issue (not even now that it is the Rocketeer AND the Spirit) but just sit here wondering 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 Rocketeer Adventures 1 or 2?

Rocketeer Hollywood Horror artwork

For instance, issue 3 so to speak, Cargo of Doom is set in 1940 and ended with an opening right into the next story. It had great quality art, it was an awesome story, and I’m sure many other readers were looking forward to read how it would unfold further. You’d think they’d take it to the next level in issue 4, Hollywood Horror right?

Sadly, you’d be wrong.

Whilst 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 did in the previous instalment.

But 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 that is set in, wait for it, 1939.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, IDW Publishing does it again and royally fucks over the chronology. So basically the right way in order to read these stories is: Hollywood Horror (issue 4) and Cargo of Doom (issue 4) and well, just try to match in the short stories in the two Adventures compilations because we both know those are jumbled up beyond belief. Lord knows where the next one with the Spirit will fit in, because I’m pretty sure they’ll just continue their merry way fucking the fans about with messed up timelines.

I appreciate what IDW is trying to do here, I love how they’re bringing back the Rocketeer and now even the Spirit. But for the love of all that is great about dieselpunk, please respect your timelines and art quality! And don’t mess the fans about like this.

Rant aside, like I said before, 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, but I love the winks and nudges to many of the things that are loved by dieselpunks and steampunks alike. If you love old school, over the top pulp stories 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.

And let’s all hope that IDW Publishing pulls their act together and actually goes for fantastic art and storytelling for every single issue and returns to an actual chronology that makes sense. THEN the new Rocketeer series would be perfect and not just a mix of awesome and especially frustration like they are now. So please IDW, clean up your act.

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