Thursday, 17 October 2013

Rocket Girl #1 - Review

DaYoung Yohannson (Rocket Girl) is a 15 year old cop from the future who travels back in time to 1986 to solve a time-related crime.

She's from an alternate 2013 where time travel, teenage cops and all manner of hi-tech gadgetry like jet packs are the norm (I would kill to travel by jet pack!).


It's a lot of information to take on board, especially when it's all explained in a single issue. Yet this overload of information somewhat allows us to share in DaYoung's own disorientation as it seems the 1986 she was expecting isn't as it seems.

I'll get back to the story later because it wasn't the narrative, or even the concept I was particularly interested in when I pre-ordered my copy of Rocket Girl by backing Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare's Kickstarter project. I was excited for the artwork. At the time I had just purchased Batwoman Vol. 1: Hydrology which as well as being one of my favourite incarnations of Batwoman, features some phenomenal artwork from Ms. Reeder. 

I'll forgo the obligatory fan girl squealing and simply say that I fell in love with her art style and since then, chances are if Reeder's name is on it somewhere, it doesn't take much persuasion for me to buy it. 

Rocket Girl's art is no exception, it is beautiful and the contrast between New York circa 1986 and DaYoung's clinical, futuristic uniform works wonderfully. Some of the panels highlight the melding of two timelines incredibly well and the one that springs to mind features DaYoung sitting on the window ledge of a New York apartment building fixing her jet pack. She looks so out of place and yet seamlessly fits in with her surroundings.

 
I imagine Rocket Girl must be an incredibly fun project for both Montclare and Reeder owing to the two very different settings. I really enjoyed the use of bright, block colours in the background of some of the fight scene panels. It was a very bold move to make and this forced my attention to the characters' expressions, which admittedly I tend to neglect and scan over whenever I read action in comics. It made the movements feel more fluid while keeping the focus on DaYoung and her assailants. In fact, the movement in this issue is conveyed with skill, the aesthetic of the jet pack contrails is vividly executed and the blending of colours provides an altogether impressive visual.



Rocket Girl's concept is sound and I can see why Image picked it up but it's a difficult task writing a story which centres around time travel, the potential to screw up timelines and leave gaping plot holes is practically guaranteed, however if the story and characters are interesting enough or well written, the time travel itself doesn't need to be explained and should simmer away in the background quietly. 

That said, I did encounter a few problems with the writing, I know it's only the first issue and a lot of story has to be set up in a limited number of pages but here goes:

Something that stuck out for me is DaYoung's profession. Now, I understand the idea of time cops and I can suspend my disbelief easily for most wibly-wobley, timey-wimey stories and characters, but the idea of teenage police officers is something I'm not so sure about. I think it's mostly due to the nature of police work, the fact it's a job where most knowledge comes from years of experience. It personally stuck out for me and I've tried to rationalise it, for example in DaYoung's future maybe the adults are too corrupt for police work? Or the ability to time travel means they can gain experience and knowledge but still stay young? Or maybe only the young can travel through time? 

Whatever the answer is, I hope my concerns are laid to rest and I especially hope the teenage element of DaYoung's character isn't a gimmick or worse, an excuse to use the title Rocket Girl as opposed to 'Rocket Woman', which sounds less marketable. I'd like to see the DaYoung's 2013 expanded upon and explained in future issues and I imagine it will.

The same can be said for the secondary characters, but as it's issue one I'm willing to let this criticism slide. I'm already getting a sense of the characters based on Reeder's expressive faces but that alone is speculative. I'd like to know more about these characters. Especially the police officers who encountered a teenage DaYoung and took orders from her, I'd like to know why they did that, you know as opposed to telling her off for skipping school and demanding to speak to her parents. 

Ultimately, the few criticisms I have are all minor. Especially as it's only the first issue but mostly because Reeder's art carries it. I hope the success of Rocket Girl doesn't solely depend on the art work though because I'd like to see a decent story and some fleshed out characters to go alongside it! 

For those of you unsure whether to pick this up, I recommend you do for the stunning art work alone and it's a great concept. As far as the story goes, you'll just have to take the same risk as me and hope the next few issues will get better! 

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