“Rocket Salvage” #1, written by Yehudi Mercado and drawn by Bachan, with colors from Jeremy Lawson and lettering by Deron Bennett, opens fifteen years ago at the Rio Rojo Motor Speedway. Equal parts “Talledega Nights” and the podrace scene from “The Phantom Menace” with a dash of “Sanford & Son,” this comic introduces readers to galaxy of characters, but quickly tightens the focus around Primo Rocket, Beta (a clone of Primo) and Zeta, the dysfunctional family behind Rocket Salvage, which, being honest, is a glorified junkyard that is a little short on glory.
The “Salvage” in the title immediately relates to the junk collection, but Mercado makes it quite clear this series has potential to be about one man’s path to redemption – – in the eyes of his family, his former adoring public and his one-time competitors. That path is filled with all sorts of characters introduced through character boxes Deron Bennett has made seriously fun, but ridiculously appropriate for the tale, sewing in humor along the way as “Rocket Salvage” #1 builds towards a mystery.
What appears to just be detailed window dressing in the opening pages, turn out to be critical story details as Mercado works the story into an adventure with breadth and depth. He gives each character enough of a chance to find their way into readers minds and hearts and spends some time addressing the dynamics of the interpersonal relationships. Like Primo Rocket, Mercado focuses on the present-day, giving readers just enough of a taste of the past to let them know they really should want to see more of it to learn jut how Primo found his way to his current station. This isn’t groundbreaking literature, but it is creative and it certainly feels new as Mercado gives readers a set of characters interesting enough to revisit. In one quote, Mercado sums up the relationship between Primo Rocket and Zeta Rocket when the elder says, “Just because you’re a genius, doesn’t mean I’m an idiot.” Primo knows he’s not the smartest guy around, and he’s also not the dumbest. Certainly, some readers can relate.
Bachan’s art is playful and lively, evocative of Rob Guillory’s work on “Chew,” but slightly softer. With invigorating colors from Jeremy Lawson, “Rocket Salvage” #1 quickly establishes a distinct, well-conceived look that fits the subject, the setting and the adventure. After all, only in a spacefaring adventure could you find a pair of siblings with blue hair and pink hair (respectively) and a squad of aliens cast in nearly every shade of green imaginable. Bachan draws beautiful scenery bedazzled with details and packs a full range of acting and emotions into every single character in every panel on every page.
With the shadows cast by a war between the Republic of Galaxies and the Galactic Republic (not unlike the bickering between the Judean People’s Front and the People’s Front of Judea) and a chin-scratching mystery lurking in the shadows, “Rocket Salvage” #1 is fun, different and worth seeking out. It’s not “Star Wars,” it’s not even “Spaceballs,” it’s a new look at a new world in a story that immediately seems comfortable and familiar as Mercado introduces readers to Primo Rocket, his glory days and his fallow attempts at finding happiness and redemption.