I know what you’re all thinking. “Minister Gabe is reviewing something other than DC!?” …and yes! Like that very old school Bud Light commercial, yes I am.
For those of you long-time followers of God Hates Geeks, you’ll remember from our SDCC Podcast that I mentioned sitting through the Image Comics panel back in July, and there was one project of theirs in particular that caught my attention. (And for those of you who haven’t listened to our podcast, shame on you, and go check that out asap!) It was then where former-Vertigo-editor-turned-Image-Comics-scribe Brandon Montclare (Fear Itself: Fearsome Four), and fan favorite artist Amy Reeder (Madame Xanadu, Batwoman) announced an upcoming comic called Rocket Girl with the most convoluted premise I’d ever heard.
Now stick with me here: DaYoung Johansson, a 15-year old New York cop from 2013, goes back in time to 1986 to stop a corrupted corporation from messing with time travel for their own dirty monopolizing benefit. However, she comes to realize that the 2013 she came from is a timeline that (if she’s successful in stopping the corporation) shouldn’t even exist to begin with, causing this major time paradox. Oh, and did I mention she flies around with a jetpack?
Feel free to read that paragraph a couple of times before we move on. It’s okay, I’ll wait here.
Glad you’re still with me. Back at the Comic-Con panel, Reeder explained that in this timeline, police were so young because as people got older, they were more easily corrupted; thus, kids in their early teens were the perfect age to enforce laws, since their moral compass was typically a little more pure than that of a usually more bitter 40-something year old.
Makes sense…and even if it doesn’t, there’s bound to be more explanation in future issues as to why these teens are even trusted as NYPD, anyway.
So, yesterday the Minister of Detective Comics went ahead, picked up the premiere issue and gave it a read. Forgive me for going into my LCS a little cynical having not read anything from Image before (ah, see — shame on me) — nor a book with a plot this super complicated — but from right from the first page, I couldn’t help but feel jubilated!
Forget all of the overwhelming explanation. This comic does its damnedest at setting up this world slow enough to not lose readers before all the real action begins.
Speaking of action, Amy Reeder’s art does a spectacular job at portraying movement! (And in a comic where your main character is a chick with a rocket strapped to her back, let’s just say.. movement is kind of important!) Excuse the cliché, but every explosion flies off the page! And the fluidity of the Rocket Girl’s jetpack trail is practically motion comics. Reeder’s art is simple enough without panel-crowding; a simplicity that help the scenes move along. One scene that comes to mind depicts R.G. taking down a couple of coppers with swifter maneuvers than her Redskin quarterback counterpart. By completely removing the background, and replacing it with some bright solid colors, the action is emphasized, making the scene feel nearly animated.
Even the speech bubbles play a big role. Similar to manga (hi Father McPhail & Sister Sherice!), the speech bubbles are utilized pretty radically in setting the mood of the dialogue. Nothing new to comics, of course; but, in Rocket Girl #1, the script comes in the most random shapes, like little explosions! Even the typical oval-shaped bubbles have a distinct hand-drawn quality to them. There’s a great, disorienting panel where a character is slammed onto his back, and consequently his dialogue is printed upside-down! Reeder is definitely using every aspect of traditional comic book art to really drive this story forward.
For this being the first issue — and having little more on his resume than a Marvel event tie-in — Brandon Montclare does an outstanding job of clearly defining the personality of each character. Some characters only have one or two lines of speech in the entire book, but even with just that, these characters become very relatable very quickly. The dialogue and the facial expressions are very well-coordinated, and really help define each character. Similar to two great actors on a set, there’s a great chemistry between Montclare’s script and Reeder’s art that makes this story a lot of fun.
If nothing else, Rocket Girl is pick-up-and-read explosive fun. Perhaps this Minister’s so used to reading DC’s iconic characters and sweepingly epic event stories, that I forgot what it was like to just pick up a comic for that very simple reason (and not to mention, experience the absence of annoying ads sliced into the pages of the story. Thanks, Image). And, that mere notion comes despite going into it wondering just how in the holy comic hell the creators were gonna pull this crazy story off.
Not only was Rocket Girl pulled off, but it pulled me in and definitely going on my pull-list. Awesome.