“The Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom” #1 is the comic equivalent of sitting in your favorite sunspot and being allowed to smile for half an hour in blessed silence. Longtime “Rocketeer” fans will love “Cargo of Doom,” but there’s enough here for first timers to come back for more. Mark Waid writes a perfect balance of character moments and action sequences to introduce the tale but also establish who we love and why. Chris Samnee’s art is a delight as he brings a pitch perfect tone with his style for this world.
The issue opens on Sally, a young girl attempting to pass a flight inspection. She’s a proto-scamp/tomboy with overalls over a striped shirt, an overly expressive face and an extremely plucky can-do attitude. The opening is incredibly fitting as Sally becomes the favorite character of the week as she wins you over with her charm and grace under fire. Waid might be borrowing from certain cliches with Sally, but he’s doing it so well I didn’t care. The very opening sequence shows Sally’s resolve and ability to rise above what the world throws at her.
The other main drive of this issue isn’t the mysterious container on a ship that no doubt informs the title. Though this strange cargo seems fatal and yields some shocking and intriguing moments, it will actually be the romance between Cliff Secord and his girlfriend Betty that makes the rest of the series a great read. Waid and Samnee work in unison to add real depth to their relationship and worry just enough about their quarrels to hope they can work it out. The faux tension and almost goofball romance infused into their back-and-forth scenes is the sort of thing there’s just not enough of in comics today.
Chris Samnee with Jordie Bellaire on colors takes the book back to 1940. The tone and flow of these pages evoke another era. Samnee creates pages full of insert panels and tiled sequences that defy the usual grids and structure. He packs each page with story and character so by the end of the issue, there seems to be more story than a typical comic. His work on the clothes definitely deserves specific mention as pants crumple and sit in expressive and realistic ways. Bellaire’s colors play into the pages to build a nostalgic, welcoming and awe-inspiring world. She brings flair to the action moments to make them jump off the page.
“The Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom” #1 is the perfect melange of fun, excitement and drama to make any age or gender comic fan smile and sink into every page. There is a deep mystery coming for our main character, but there are also two women in his life that will require just as much attention. Balancing these storylines is going to be key in this miniseries moving forward with ease. With Waid and Samnee at the helm, this is a very strong outing for “The Rocketeer.”