Jetpacking back to 1980s New York with 'Rocket Girl'

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Rocket Girl, Vol. 1

By Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder

Image Comics

This week marked the release of Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare's Rocket Girl in trade paperback, which is probably the best way to read it, as the time-travel story is a bit confusing. It's a fun read nonetheless, especially for those of us who are still waiting for our jetpacks to arrive.

Dayoung Johansson is a 15-year-old girl who travels from 2013, where all New York police officers are teenagers, to the much grittier 1986 version of the Big Apple, to stop a group of scientists from getting a piece of tech that would allow their company to become a mega-corporation that has corrupted the city. The twist is, that if she succeeds, Dayoung will destroy her own future.

You can give yourself a headache thinking about all the implications of this, or you can just sit back and enjoy the ride. This isn't a philosophical treatise; it's a story about Dayoung flying around 1980s New York confusing everyone with her jetpack and her smartphone. As it happens, I was living in New York in 1986, so I particularly enjoyed the trip back to a time when most of the city didn't have cable and the subways looked as bad as they smelled. (I'm hoping that future issues will include references to Channel J, Papaya King and the bulldog edition of The Times.) Dayoung doesn't just have technology -- she's also a lot smarter than those 1980s folks, and the fun of this story is watching her get the better of the cops -- and the two goons who, inevitably, are sent from the future to chase her.

This comic is a visual treat, with a dark/bright palette that matches the look of the times, and an intriguing array of character types. Sometimes the action in the fight scenes is a bit hard to follow, but that may be in part because I was reading this digitally and couldn't look at a full spread at once.

This volume is a nice done-in-one story that leaves the door open for future episodes. Montclare and Reeder have given us a likable female lead, a strong (and very diverse) supporting cast, and a setting that is rich with possibilities, so I certainly hope there are more comics on the way.

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