Writer: Brandon Montclare
Art: Amy Reeder
Stewart R: I went to New York with a copy of Rocket Girl #1 in my bag. I had it with me on the 7 hour flight and I failed to read it. I saw Montclare and Reeder on several occasions signing copies at their table at NYCC and remember thinking to myself "I should read that tonight so I can maybe speak to them about it tomorrow", but failed to find the time and so failed to speak to them about it. I could have actually gone up and bought a copy from them, read it there and then and then spoken to them about it, but only thought of that in hindsight. I even had it in my bag for the entirety of the 7 hour flight back to the UK too. Failed to read it then. It was in a rather large pile of comics I started digging through a week after getting home and remember picking it up and stupidly thinking to myself "I really do like the look of this, but I’m not in the right frame of mind for it right this minute". Fail!
And so - with potentially a little too much honesty for you all good readers - it came to one of those quick dash, pop-to-the-convenience-and-grab-reading-material-ANY-reading-material moments about a week ago (I’m sure at least 75% of you are nodding in familiar acknowledgement of such a situation) when I finally managed to read Rocket Girl #1 and it was a damn fine debut I really must say. The fantastic news this week is that I wasted no time at all in diving into the second chapter - reading it from the comfort of a comfortable desk chair with no porcelain in sight - and it thankfully, yet not unexpectedly, carries on at the high standard set last month.
Teenage cop from the future, Dayoung is now trapped in 1986 with the very group of scientists she came back to investigate and potentially prevent them creating the version of reality which she calls home, utilising the very same temporal technology. There’s a host of science fiction, time travel paradox and headache-inducing ideas to bat around in that summary alone, yet Montclare steers his way around much of the heavier science which could bog down the plot and keeps things tripping along in light and fun fashion. He does address the ‘conundrum’ in suitably mysterious fashion with a brief meeting of the so far faceless Quintum Mechanics board who - in their particular version of 2013 - have finally reached the pinnacle of 27 long years of research and work to now be able to play with the timestream and set their past selves from 1986 on the very same path to where they are now... annnnd... brainsplosion! By keeping the ‘big bad’ in the shadows and slightly ambiguous in their intentions at this stage Montclare really does sell Dayoung as a strong and capable young woman who may, quite possibly, be a little too headstrong for her own good.
She’s brilliantly depicted, via his plucky dialogue and Reeder’s sublime artwork, as a young woman with a supreme sense of capability and confidence which is made all the more charming because she’s stranded in a time she doesn’t fully understand and, arguably, is nowhere near ready for her. Reeder’s expression work is applause-worthy, shifting Dayoung through calm concentration to arm-flapping exasperation, yet to this point never giving us the impression that she’s in a situation that she can’t handle. On the larger scale the brief glimpses of superheroics are imaginatively handled each and every time with a truly noteworthy double-page spread the standout moment. The visual style employed by Reeder is tremendously rich and vibrant throughout and, as you would expect from a book entitled Rocket Girl, the action sequences thrust along with a great sense of kineticism; the variety of panel layout and camera viewpoint really making you believe that this teenage cop has the skillset and tech to disarm a dangerous situation in the very blink of an eye.
We’re only two issues in but I am really appreciating the fact that, for the evident uniqueness of Dayoung in a 1986 version of New York that has never experienced a girl flying around with a jetpack before, the focus has been kept narrower than other writers may dare, only showing or mentioning the briefest of media reactions to highlight that she is certainly creating a buzz about town, yet keeping her true mission and the required expansion of the supporting cast and their budding relationship with Dayoung the priorities. It's also good to see the likes of Annie and Ryder perturbed and curious about Dayoung's presence in their timeline, yet more shocked by what she can do rather than the fact that she's there at all.
Rocket Girl has an incredibly relatable and likeable lead, a complimentary supporting cast, an intriguing plot containing mystery and potential by the bucketload, as well as one heck of an eye-catching aesthetic to it. It’s sucked me in and made me a dedicated reader already after only two chapters. And you know what, it's just plain fun too! Image really do seem to have a habit of finding books that grab me and suck me right in to them on a regular basis these days... 9/10