I’ve made it clear in the past that I’m a fan of the Rocketeer’s return to comics, even after the death of Dave Stevens. I’ve reviewed a few of the IDW Rocketeer comics in the past, but I thought I would take a look at one of the new mini-series containing the famed finhead. Hollywood Horror is a new series that started earlier this year, detailing the Rocketeer’s latest adventures of mystery and intrigue, with a nice dash of adventure and excitement on the side. Unlike some of the previous forays into this character, Hollywood Horror is brought to life by J. Bone in a very unique art style that is wholly different than anything Stevens ever did. Thankfully IDW has already numbed most the reading audience to these changes by doing the inaugural anthology series which had many different artists and writers working on it.
By now you shouldn’t be shocked seeing a different take on the Rocketeer, but even so Hollywood Horror has a very distinctive style. For whatever the reason, I kept being reminded of the old Disney Adventures Magazine comic strips. I suppose on a certain level, this is apropos. Of course, there’s definitely more “sex” here, as it contains a lot of the same stalwarts that we’ve come to know in Rocketeer comics. Only this time, Betty isn’t drawn with almost ridiculous realism, but she still parades around scantly clad. It’s interesting if nothing else.
For a story that has a backdrop of old Hollywood, you’d think there would be more nods to the town itself. While Hollywood is a character in the story, it’s not much of one. I guess I was hoping that with that title, we’d see some sort of old Universal style monsters. No such luck as of yet, although there certainly is something monstrous going on. We do get some fun nods to classic comic strip characters like Mutt and Jeff, along with a helping of nostalgic overtones that have always been a staple of the Rocketeer books.
The basic story revolves around Cliff Secord still trying to juggle his hectic life as the Rocketeer and his sassy girlfriend, Betty. All the while, in the background a mysterious mad scientist type seems to be starting a cult. Another scientist has gone missing and just as the Rocketeer starts to stumble upon the clues, Doc Savage sends some of his men to recollect the famed Cirrus X3. Naturally Cliff bungles things up with Betty and manages to get out of one sticky predicament and right into another.
The story has a narrator, who is introduced in one of the early panels. The Rocketeer bumps into him and accidentally loses his wallet. We haven’t found out much about the narrator himself, but he’s apparently an actor and you have to imagine that at some point, he’ll get that wallet back to our hero. The narrator adds a different presence to the book, but it’s not bad, it helps keep the tone a bit light and adds a little wit.
As with almost all Rocketeer stories, it’s hard not to want a bit more of the man himself in action, but the human drama is always compelling enough to keep you hooked on the tidbits of superhero action. There are just enough threads going on to keep it interesting, but not too much to be overwhelmed. As a first issue, it’s a fun read with a lot of stuff set up. If you can get past the unique look, you’ll be thrust into an exciting new Rocketeer tale. Be on the lookout for more reviews of the Hollywood Horror series for IDW, right here at Infinite Hollywood!