Rocket Girl #1 by Brandon Montclare – Friday Flash Review [Shadowhawk/Bane of Kings]
Shadowhawk and Bane of Kings take a look at the first issue of a new series from Image Comics by Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder.
“An unexpectedly wonderful first issue. Want more!” ~Shadowhawk, The Founding Fields
“The start of an interesting new series with a fun concept and stellar art, Rocket Girl is certainly one to watch out for.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
I say this a lot, and it needs to be said: sometimes all you need in a comic is some good, clean fun that you can enjoy just for the hell of it, away from complex, flawed heroes and impossible situations. What I mean is that sometimes the traditional story is just as great and awesome as anything wonderfully complex. This is where Rocket Girl by writer Brandon Montclare and artist Amy Reeder comes in. With their first issue, these two are set to make a huge name for themselves. And they are doing it in a way that you really wouldn’t expect.
Dayoung Johansson, a 15-year old cop from the future (2013) goes back in time (1986) to stop a company called Quintum Mechanicus from revising history to its benefit. That’s the long and short of it. As a setting, what Montclare and Reeder have created is fantastic. The New York of the past and the future both is a really upbeat place with lots of colour to it, lots of things to love. While Montclare focuses on his characters, Reeder focuses on the scenes and the setting, adding on to what the former is writing so that the two mesh together seamlessly.
That’s what fun about it, other than the fact that Rocket Girl is such a simple comic. Its not woefully complex, it just hints at some… involved stuff. The first issue here focuses on Dayoung, establishing who she is, what she is, and why she is doing what she is. As a first issue, Rocket Girl #1 has everything I could ask of it. The script is fairly simple and it doesn’t tax the brain. Its not exactly predictable per se, and the twists and turns aren’t too crooked, so it strikes a nice balance between those two opposites in every way.
The small supporting cast that is introduced, such as Dayoung’s partner and boss from the future, the Quintum scientists from the past, etc, all make up for a really fun experience when paired with the heroine herself. Montclare gets their dialogues all down pretty well, especially Dayoung, who is shown to be confident and competent throughout. She does have her own flaws, such as being reckless and a little arrogant, but she is also someone with strong convictions and a strong sense of what is right and wrong. Without really being all that complex, she still is complex and it shows in every page.
Amy Reeder’s art, like I said, is also top-notch. There are so many details packed into each scene and the story flows from panel to panel effortlessly. One of the best things about the art is that Reeder’s characters feel like humans. They aren’t wooden of expression or stiff of body. They are energetic. They are involved in whatever is going on within a panel. There’s definitely nothing static about the art in this issue. Another great thing with the art is when Dayoung arrives as scheduled in 1986 and meets with the scientist team from Quintum Mechanics. One of the best pages in the comic for sure.
Overall, this was pretty great, and I can’t wait to read #2 next month.
Bane of Kings:
Art: Amy Reeder | Cover: Amy Reeder
A teenage cop from a high-tech future is sent back in time to 1986 New York City. Dayoung Johansson is investigating the Quintum Mechanics megacorporation for crimes against time. As she pieces together the clues, she discovers the “future” she calls home – an alternate reality version of 2013 – shouldn’t exist at all!
Blast off with the new ongoing series by BRANDON MONTCLARE (Halloween Eve) and Eisner Award nominee AMY REEDER (Batwoman, Madame Xanadu).
Well, here we have Rocket Girl. It’s a book that I’ve been looking forward to for a while now ever since I heard of its kick-starter project and I’m glad that it has proven successful so I could read #1 for myself. And the fact that I had to wait an extra week because my store didn’t have any spare copies in stock on the Wednesday when it was released made the wait feel even longer. As a result, this issue was one of the first that I read – and I ended up really enjoying it.
The series grabbed me in with its Back to the Future-esque premise and its awesome artwork provided by Amy Reeder – who delivers strongly throughout the book. Brandon Montclare weaves a pretty solid storyline that does well at establishing the world that the reader finds themselves in, as it’s done with skill and provides the narrative hook that should keep you interested for at least the first story arc of the series. I read a couple of new first issues last Wednesday and out of Coffin Hill and Rocket Girl, I enjoyed them both and have since added both of them to my pull-list as they have both started strong. They’re more or less around the same level at the moment now anyway – as it’s almost impossible to compare them as they’re both from entirely different genres.
I always love taking the risk of being introduced to a new world, new characters and new ideas – the potential in my eyes is always there and I’m not afraid to pick up books by creative teams that I’ve never heard of before in entirely new settings if the preview and premise grabs my attention, as was the case with Rocket Girl (And other relatively recent new series like FBP, Lazarus and Coffin Hill). It throws us right into the world of Dayoung Johansson, a member of the NYTPD (New York Teen Police Department) barely providing any introduction before throwing her in 1986 New York City, as opposed to the “future” that she calls home, being an alternate version of 2013.
The pacing of the book is pretty solid. No time is spent with massive amounts of info dumps and it moves along fairly quickly, which allows for a variety of strong scenes with Amy Reeder’s superb artwork. The character, Dayoung – is also interesting, rootable and fun to get behind – she mentions as teenagers would, joining the NYTPD because she gets to fly. When an issue is focused on one character for the majority of its page-time this often makes or breaks the story, but there shouldn’t be too many people being turned off by Dayoung as a character in order not to read the second issue, for Montclare delivers a compelling and engaging script.
And it’s not entirely all serious as well. Rocket Girl has some elements of humour (but doesn’t go overboard), particularly in the strong opening scene where she displays her bade. It doesn’t come across as cheesy or out of place, and just works. Yes, there may be some elements of exposition – but it’s light and doesn’t really bog down the narrative, and should provide a fairly solid read.
If there’s one problem that I have with Rocket Girl, it doesn’t quite offer an explanation as to why Dayoung is a cop in the first place. Whilst her character is brought to life in a fun and exciting way, we never really get to learn why the NYTPD exists, and this is something that I hope is covered in future issues. We don’t know why they’re trusted over older and more experienced officers, because at the way things stand right now, I’d still settle for the wealth of experience that somebody like Chief-Commissioner James Gordon has to bring to the table as opposed to a relatively young and inexperienced Dayoung. However, it’s only a first issue, so it’ll be interesting to see whether this question is answered immediately or left hanging.
Overall then, Rocket Girl #1 is a solid read. Amy Reeder is an amazing artist drawing some bright and exciting visuals, with a combination of time travelling to stop criminals and the added bonus of rockets allowing for a great concept – this series should quickly establish itself as fresh, unique and entertaining. Count me in for #2, and if you haven’t tried #1 yet, you should certainly give it a shot.