Advance Review: Flying High In `The Rocketeer – The Great Race’ #1

by Tom Smithyman


Even if you don’t know much about the 1940s-era hero The Rocketeer, this premiere issue should grab your attention. Stephen Mooney assigns himself double duty, writing and drawing this tale of the jetpack-powered hero as he considers whether to enter a race to Europe. Spoiler alert: He does!


IDW is taking advantage of the Rocketeer’s 40th anniversary with a four-part limited series featuring the World War II-era hero. Written and drawn by Stephen Mooney, the initial installment of The Rocketeer – The Great Race is a fun ride as the jetpack-powered hero navigates the dangers from Nazis as well as the complications of his love life.

Mooney is a perfect choice to write and draw this tale. His mastery of cheesy 1940s-era language (“I’d love to stay and powwow, but now that I’ve seen you heinies are for real, time to get the heck out of Dodge!”) and his intricately drawn artwork add a level of authenticity to an otherwise outlandish tale.

The Rocketeer’s alter ego, Cliff Secord, is having second thoughts about strapping on his jetpack. His girl Betty – a prototypical 40s leading lady with her stunning looks and fierce attitude – wants Cliff to move on as well. But when a Howard Hughes-type offers Cliff $10,000 and a trip to France if he can win a race with an experimental jet engine, the Rocketeer gets back into action. Of course, that mean more Nazis and more danger.

While the burden of the storytelling is on Mooney, he’s got some great help in the form of colorist Len O’Grady, whose hues make the linework come to life. Gabriel Rodriguez offers a stunning primary cover, while Mooney offers his own variant version for good measure.

The Rocketeer is a throwback hero, so he’s not going to appeal to everyone. He’s not going to save the world like Superman or Thor. He’s just a fellow with a mask and a jetpack. But that relatability is where he finds his appeal. And that will likely keep readers coming back for more.

The Rocketeer – The Great Race #1 will be available for purchase on April 6, 2022.

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