It only takes two pages to get fully drawn into Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder’s captivating “Rocket Girl” #2; Montclare unobtrusively fills readers in on the situation behind teenage future cop Dayoung Johansson and her time journey back to the 1980s, while Reeder’s playful and lively art welcomes them to a delightfully lighthearted time-travel story that is decidedly not like any other.
The all-encompassing hi-tech company Quintum Mechanics dominates technology in the future timeline that Dayoung believes to be an anomaly, so she innocently undertakes a mission to initiate corrective action by stopping the invention of a device believed to be the cause of it. There wouldn’t be much of a story if things went as planned, so after a mishap, Dayoung makes the best of her time in the ’80s, taking on far more mature police and superhero stuff. This is where Montclare shows off his character, making it clear that she’s mature at heart, by doing good as she sees it with no ill intent whatsoever, but also that she’s still a kid who might not fully grasp the consequences of her time-altering actions. Dayoung might be impetuous, but her pure heart makes her likeable.
Montclare also explores the fascinating flipside of a time paradox, namely that of time fulfillment, and the mentality that meddling with past events has to occur, to pave the way for the present to unfold as it has. He adds to the fascination by providing a little bit of mystery, with a possible foreshadowing of who exactly might be responsible for the paradox/fulfillment that Dayoung tries to prevent — or possibly cause. Overthinking it causes headaches, as time travel stories can sometimes do, but Montclare pre-emptively addresses this with the focus on Dayoung’s character as much as the story’s premise; it’s just a lot more fun to enjoy this young woman’s adventures than to scratch one’s head studying them.
Reeder’s art is every bit as alluring as Montclare’s script, full of comedic touches, perfect pacing and all-around great storytelling. The two-feet-tall stack of pancakes whipped up by the time-stranded Dayoung is funny and almost surreal, not only does it show the carefree side of her character but it also adds a light touch to a scene that belies the seriousness of her mission. A cleverly designed and strikingly-detailed double-page spread jam-packed with news clips from various sources is not only fun to peruse but speaks volumes about Dayoung’s altruistic qualities. Never has the term “double time” been used in such a hilariously awkward fashion, brilliantly understated in one simple panel.
Reeder also makes sure that New York City circa 1986 isn’t all about the big hair and bright colors; there’s plenty of that, but also less conspicuous and more everyday reminders as to the era and locale; the Statue of Liberty restoration would have conveyed the exact setting without ever mentioning either the time or place, and the World Trade Center shown from a distance amidst the early morning haze is a nice touch. Reeder’s alternate-present day 2013, intriguingly referred to as the past, is a surprisingly shiny futuristic world with jetpacks and hover bikes, and paradoxically appears to be a much brighter place than Dayoung believes it to be. Reeder succinctly captures the differences between the two eras with a split final page, in much the same manner she did last issue.
“Rocket Girl” #2 is a very likeable, accessible, clever and charismatic comic that, above all else, is just plain fun. Montclare serves up a well-traveled idea with a twist, and Reeder embellishes it with a cheerful and upbeat flair that makes it one of the most enjoyable comic books of the year.