The Rocketeer | Wikipedia audio article
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The Rocketeer | Wikipedia audio article

August 11, 2019

The Rocketeer is a fictional superhero appearing
in American comic books originally published by Pacific Comics. Created by writer/artist Dave Stevens, the
character first appeared in 1982 and is a homage to the Saturday matinee serial heroes
from the 1930s through the 1950s.The Rocketeer’s secret identity is Cliff Secord, a stunt pilot
who discovers a mysterious jetpack that allows him to fly. His adventures are set in Los Angeles and
New York in 1938, and Stevens gave them a retro, nostalgic feel influenced by the King
of the Rocket Men and Commando Cody movie serials (both from Republic Pictures), and
pinup diva Bettie Page.The character was adapted into the 1991 Walt Disney Pictures film The
Rocketeer by director Joe Johnston.==Premise==
In 1938 Los Angeles, Cliff Secord, a local racing pilot and barnstormer, discovers a
rocket pack hidden by two gangsters fleeing the police. When he decides to take it for a spin, his
life is turned upside down – in more ways than one!==Publication history==
The Rocketeer’s first adventure appeared in 1982 as a backup feature in issues #2 and
#3 of Mike Grell’s Starslayer series from Pacific Comics. Two more installments appeared in Pacific’s
showcase comic Pacific Presents #1 and 2. The fourth chapter ended in a cliffhanger
that was later concluded in a special Rocketeer issue released by Eclipse Comics. The complete story was then collected by Eclipse
in a single volume titled The Rocketeer (ISBN 1-56060-088-8). It was published in three versions: a trade
paperback edition, a trade hardcover, and a signed, limited edition hardcover. Noted fantasy author Harlan Ellison, a fan
of the Rocketeer and also an acquaintance of Dave Stevens, wrote the introduction to
the collection; both Dave Stevens and Harlan Ellison signed the limited edition on a specially
bound-in bookplate. The story was continued in the Rocketeer Adventure
Magazine. Two issues were published by Comico Comics
in 1988 and 1989; the third installment was not published until 1995, six years later
by Dark Horse Comics. All three issues were then collected by Dark
Horse into a glossy trade paperback titled The Rocketeer: Cliff’s New York Adventure
(ISBN 1-56971-092-9) that quickly went out-of-print. In 1991 comics artist Russ Heath illustrated
the graphic novel The Rocketeer: The Official Movie Adaptation, based on Walt Disney’s 1991
feature film The Rocketeer. On February 28, 2009, IDW Publishing announced
a hardcover collecting the entire series for the first time, intended to be published in
October 2009. Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer: The Complete
Adventures contained new coloring by Laura Martin, who had been chosen by Dave Stevens
prior to his death. The book appeared in December, two months
later than announced, in two versions: A standard trade hardcover edition with full color dust
jacket and a second, more lavish, deluxe edition (ISBN 978-1600105371), limited to 3000 hardcover
copies. The deluxe edition used different Stevens
artwork for its dust jacket and was issued in an illustrated, all color slipcase; it
also had full color illustrated endpapers. While the deluxe contains the same Rocketeer
comics reprints as the trade edition, it adds more than 130 pages of previously uncollected
Rocketeer material: sketches, preliminaries, character designs, script pages, photographs,
and original art pages, with commentaries by Dave Stevens and several peers who occasionally
assisted him on The Rocketeer. The deluxe edition sold out almost immediately
upon publication, but IDW announced a second printing. In May 2011 IDW debuted the first issue of
Rocketeer Adventures. Issue #1 featured work from John Cassaday,
Mike Allred, Kurt Busiek, and Michael Kaluta, plus pin-ups by Mike Mignola, Dave Stewart,
and Jim Silke. The four 2011 issues offered regular and variant
cover designs by both Alex Ross and Dave Stevens; various black and white Retailer Incentive
variants were also published in limited press runs; several additional variant issues by
Jet Pack Comics, featuring recolored Dave Stevens artwork, were also published in limited
press runs. To celebrate the launch of this all-new Rocketeer
series, IDW’s Hundred Penny Press also simultaneously released a $1.00 re-issue of the original
The Rocketeer #1 by Dave Stevens, fully remastered and recolored by Eisner-winner Laura Martin. The first four Rocketeer Adventures issues
were then collected in 2011 into a hardcover graphic novel, followed by second hardcover
graphic novel in 2012 that collected the next four issues: A color Rocketeer title logo
was used on the regular retail copies of the graphic novel, plus one additional Retailer
Incentive hardcover without a title logo printed on its dust cover; both versions were offered
with the same Alex Ross’ color artwork. The two volumes were collected in an oversized
deluxe edition in 2017. A four-issue miniseries by IDW, Rocketeer:
Cargo of Doom, debuted in 2012. Each issue offered a regular retail cover
design and one alternate Retailer Incentive cover. In addition publisher Jet Pack Comics issued
several additional Retailer Incentive variants with Dave Stevens re-colored artwork reprinted
on their covers. The miniseries was then collected as two variant
graphic novel hardcovers, one offered with a regular dust jacket, the other without. A four-issue IDW miniseries, Rocketeer: Hollywood
Horror, debuted in late February 2013. As with the previous series, each issue offered
a regular retail cover design and one Retailer Incentive alternate cover. The miniseries was then collected as two variant
hardcover graphic novel editions, one with a regular style dust jacket, the other without. A fifth IDW miniseries, Rocketeer and The
Spirit: Pulp Friction, debuted in mid-2013, as another limited four-issue miniseries. As with the two previous Rocketeer miniseries,
each issue offered a regular retail cover design and one Retailer Incentive alternate
cover. A special San Diego Comic Con International
promotional variant issue #1, with a black and white wraparound cover, was offered only
at the 2013 convention. The miniseries was then collected as a hardcover
graphic novel. In September, 2014, IDW issued The Rocketeer:
Jet-Pack Adventures, a prose anthology of ten short stories written by authors including
Yvonne Navarro, Don Webb, Gregory Frost, Nancy Holder, Nancy A. Collins. Set between 1939 and 1946, the stories feature
appearances by such historical figures as Howard Hughes, Hedy Lamarr, Tarzan’s Johnny
Weissmuller, and writer Zane Grey.A sixth IDW Rocketeer miniseries, Rocketeer: At War,
debuted in December 2015.==Background=====Allusions===
The Rocketeer makes a great number of references to pop culture from the 1930s to the 1950s. The first storyline, “The Rocketeer” features
characters from the Doc Savage pulp series, though Stevens takes care not to refer to
any of the characters — including Doc Savage himself — by name, so as not to violate
copyright and incur a licensing fee for use of the characters. “Cliff’s New York Adventure” similarly features
unnamed characters from The Shadow pulp magazine series, including the Shadow’s alter ego,
Lamont Cranston.Besides pulp characters, actors of the 1940s and 1950s have also visually
inspired two characters: Lothar, the villain in “Cliff’s New York Adventure”, is based
on the likeness of acromegalic horror movie star Rondo Hatton; and Cliff Secord’s girlfriend
Betty is modeled after “Queen of Pinups” Bettie Page.A “Rocket Man” character, with a near-identical
rocket backpack and similar uniform, appeared in four Republic Pictures movie serials from
1949 through 1953. The fourth serial, originally conceived as
a syndicated Republic TV series, was first released under contractual obligation to movie
houses as a regular multi-chapter theatrical serial; two years later, it was re-cut with
new footage and additional music added and finally syndicated on NBC television stations
as twelve 25-minute episodes. The four Republic Rocket Man serials were:
King of the Rocket Men (1949), Radar Men from the Moon (1952), Zombies of the Stratosphere
(1952), and Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe (serial 1953, TV series 1955)==In other media=====Film===
Disney produced The Rocketeer in 1991, directed by Joe Johnston, and starring Billy Campbell,
Jennifer Connelly, Alan Arkin, Timothy Dalton, Paul Sorvino and Tiny Ron Taylor. The film was released on June 21, 1991 and
received generally favorable reviews from critics, although plans for Rocketeer sequels
were abandoned after a poor box office performance. Rocketeer creator Dave Stevens appears in
a cameo as a German test pilot killed during the test of a Nazi rocket backpack. As of 2017, efforts have been made by Disney
toward doing a remake.===Television===
A television series for Disney Junior is being developed for Fall 2019. The series focuses on a young girl named Kit
who receives a rocket powered jet pack for her birthday.===Video games===
The first officially licensed Rocketeer game was released for the Nintendo Entertainment
System on May 1991. It is a side-scrolling action game published
and developed by Bandai, and followed the plot of the movie. Developer NovaLogic released a licensed PC
game in December 1991 which was published by Disney Software. NovaLogic went on to port the game to the
Super NES in May 1992 with IGS as the publisher. Both versions are a collection of minigames
based on the film.==Homages=====Comics===
The character Gabe from the Penny Arcade webcomic confuses the term racketeering with rocketeering
as both a satirical jab at a recent event and a tribute to the Rocketeer character. Eric Canete’s cover for Iron Man: Enter the
Mandarin#1 pays homage to the Rocketeer film’s Art Deco-style theatrical poster. The webcomic Basic Instructions occasionally
features the character “Rocket Hat”, who battles the Moon Men, a clear reference to Republic
Pictures’ original Rocket Man and Commando Cody movie serials that inspired Dave Stevens
in creating the Rocketeer.===Songs===
The song “Rocketeer” by Foxy Shazam is an homage to the film.===Television===
In The Amazing World of Gumball’s season 5 episode “The Boredom”, Rocketeer’s jet pack
can be seen in the dumpster.===Video games===
Rocket Ranger (1988) A Rocketeer-inspired character, named Brocketeer,
is featured as a playable character in the game Broforce.==Reception==
IGN listed the Rocketeer as the 76th Greatest Comic Book Character, stating that the Rocketeer
taps into that popular desire to fly. IGN also stated the Rocketeer saga remains
a compelling one

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