With most of the detective and leg work out of the way, Mark Waid and J. Bone get to cut loose with big panel action sequences and make their final statements about the similarities and differences between The Spirit and The Rocketeer. Rocketeer/Spirit #4 is a fast paced 20 page saga filled with punches, teleporting, explosions, humor, and even some great characterization early on in the story. And J Bone was born to draw this book. His wide-eyed, expressive figures are well-suited for his bombastic fight scenes and slapstick gags. Waid and Bone keep things simple and tell a straightforward action adventure story tinged with superhero elements to show the transition from pulp and serial heroes to the modern superhero.
Rocketeer/Spirit #4 is definitely not a boring comic. After showing readers bits and pieces of action in the previous issues, Waid throws caution to the wind and writes an entertaining story that reads like the third act of an Indiana Jones film. However, he still leaves room to comment on the the Rocketeer and Spirit’s antagonistic relationship. The Rocketeer feels uncomfortable in the sprawling, crime-ridden Central City while The Spirit continues to think that he can’t be a crime fighter and have a personal life. Waid doesn’t completely change these characters’ opinions of each other, but shows what they have in common: a secret identity. This concept is illustrated by Bone in a scene where The Rocketeer takes off his clunky helmet and borrows a light brown domino mask from The Spirit. Waid also gives the Rocketeer’s girlfriend Betty some agency as she shakes off the Octopus’ mind control and kicks some ass in the process. Bone showcases her exploits using a triptych of inset panels in a full page spread.
J. Bone’s Darwyn Cooke meets the Archie Comics house style works well in the period adventure setting. His use of speed lines and jagged panels give the many fight sequences real power. Bone’s big, detailed panels illustrate Waid’s script clearly and even enhance his character beats, like when he shows Rocketeer blacking out inside his helmet after saying that Central City has “rattled” him. If I had to describe Bone’s art in one word, it would be charming. His figures sometimes look like caricatures, but their big smiles and bright faces make them endearing. Bone also has great comic timing and adds some physical humor in between the hitting and machine gun fire. Colorist Rom Fajardo forsakes the darker palette he used in the previous issue and uses a mix of light and dark colors to show the mixture of conflict and empathy between The Rocketeer and The Spirit.
Rocketeer/Spirit #4 is a satisfying conclusion to this crossover miniseries. It strikes a great balance between the characters teaming up to fight crime and their interactions with each other. Waid and Bone use retro visuals and dialogue, but give their characters depth and problems. Unfortunately, Rocketeer/Spirit‘s villains are overshadowed by the heroes, but this is a minor problem in an extremely fun comic.