Review: The Rocketeer & The Spirit: Pulp Friction #2

Wow this too a really long time to release. In fact after reading it I almost forgot that I was the one reviewing the series. I’ll tell you right now that it was not worth the wait. I know that sounds cruel but other than Cliff and Spirit sharing the same world and the clever connections between their supporting cast, there’s really nothing else going on in this story. After the “meet cute” of the last issue has been sorted out, Cliff, Spirit and the rest of the supporting cast talk to Betty. It’s a pointless scene and I have no idea why the Spirit thinks that a woman who was just on the beach doing a photo-shoot would know something special about a murder she wasn’t involved in; more than say the Coroner that they visit later in the issue. The only thing that comes from the conversation is Betty stirring up Cliff and Ellen... and Ellen’s dad, but his stirring is more in his nether regions. They head to the morgue to check out the body and the group continues to argue and moan and there’s a joke about L.A. traffic which is more fact than comedy. Our hero’s protagonists have a “meet cute” for some reason and we basically learn that TV is evil.

The first issue was really enjoyable because it got a lot of the muck out-of-the-way from a crossover situation like this. This issue manages to find a new muck to trudge through and it makes for an average story at best. My biggest problem with the modern pulp genre (make no mistake that’s what this is), is that it’s written with nostalgia in mind. The writers that tackle the genre remember what the genre was like when they read it upon its original release and just try to copy that style. The result is that they write dated stories that are incredibly easy to figure out which makes any story longer than one issue repetitive and boring. If you look at modern superhero stories they do not suffer from the lenses of nostalgia and yet the vast majority of modern pulp reads like a cleaned up version of classic pulp. That’s the exact problem here. Waid gave you the problem and the solution in the first issue and I was okay with that as long as the journey was worth it, but that’s turning out to be just as predictable.

RocketeerSpirit_02-pr_Page_1Is there something involving planes for the Rocketeer to deal with? Check. Does the Spirit help him like a fish out of water? Check. Does Betty end up getting captured by the bad guy of the story? Check. Does anything else happen? Nope. There’s nothing about this story that makes you say, “yup Mark Waid wrote that” nor does he capture the original voices of the creators which would have been okay. Instead it’s just another comic cranked out by the corporate machine.

The art is wonderful. It’s the only part of the comic that I didn’t feel forced to pay attention to. It’s gorgeous and it’s so well done that you could read the comic without looking at the dialog and still figure out what’s going on in every panel. Loston Wallace’s facial expressions and body language are very strong and give the story a pulp look, but keeps with the bright colors associated with The Rocketeer which is essentially acting as the host series here.

There was something special and fun with the first issue. The clever way that the two worlds connected was believable and made you crave for a larger connected pulp world much like the one Dynamite has created, but without them involved. This issue delivers a well-worn crossover formula that in my opinion talks down to its audience assuming that it couldn’t handle anything that wasn’t a tongue-in-cheek meeting of these two characters and that’s the real shame here.

Score: 2/5

Writer: Mark Waid Artist: Loston Wallace Publisher: DC and IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 10/23/13