Rocket Girl #1
Writer: Brandon Montclare
Artist: Amy Reeder
Publisher: Image Comics
Rocket Girl #1 is yet another high concept Image book with great art. The basic premise is that a DaYoung Johansson, a sixteen year old NYPD policewoman a 2013 with flying cars and futuristic technology is traveling back to the actual 1986 to take down Quintum Mechanics, a corporation guilty of “crimes against time”. This might sound like a bad ripoff of Back to the Future or Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, but Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder are committed to their protagonist, and the idea makes sense. Beneath all of its technobabble and teenage police commissioners chomping on cigars, Rocket Girl is a story about the conflict with idealism and realism combined with elements of the coming of age and superhero origin stories. Reeder uses different types of panels and subtle background details to create the world of Rocket Girl. Her colors also shed light on the conflict between idealism and realism that permeate the comic.
First and foremost, Rocket Girl is a fun book with a lot of humor and action. The funniest scene is a probably a 20 year old police commissioner (from the alternate 2013) talking about his pension to DaYoung and her partner Lashawn. There are mad scientists, flights through New York, and a sting operation outside an arcade with a gravity defying fight sequence. Montclare and Reeder throw lots of wacky ideas on the page, and most of those ideas stick. Generally, teenagers are less corrupt and more impressionable than adults so with the right type of technology, they could potentially make good police. This whole comic acts as metatextual commentary on what the writers and filmmakers of the 1980s thought the future would be like, and how it actually ended up. Hopefully, these ideas will continue to expanded upon throughout the series. The skipping in time and mystery about Quintum Mechanics can be a bit confusing, but Rocket Girl #1 reads like a pilot episode with these plot threads getting developed later.
Amy Reeder’s art for Rocket Girl #1 is both beautiful and unique. The characters she depicts have different faces, body types, and skin colors. Underneath their futuristic technology, they feel like every day people which gives the comic a strong emotional anchor from the beginning. With her pencils, inks, and colors, Reeder draws a powerful contrast between New York of alternate 2013 and New York of 1986. The city scenes are filled with little details and pop culture references that add layers to the world of Rocket Girl. For example, 1986 Times Square is a lurid mixture of pawn shops, arcades, peep shows, and brothels giving it a feeling of gritty realism that goes directly against DaYoung’s jetpack and wide eyed optimism. Reeder also adds to the humorous nature of the comic with beat panels and fun sound effects and reactions like DaYoung immediately passing out after traveling back to 1986.
Rocket Girl #1 is a great mix of the sci-fi comedies and high concept films of the 1980s (Back to the Future, Bill and Ted, Blade Runner) with the darker superhero stories of that time like Batman Year One and Daredevil “Born Again”. Montclare and Reeder are influenced by the aesthetic of these stories, but their ideas and characters aren’t retreads of them. Montclare gives DaYoung a unique voice through his caption boxes, and Reeder uses facial expressions and body posture to bring her to life. Rocket Girl #1 is one of the most fu beautiful comics of 2013 and has the ideas and characters to match.