Posted August 9, 2013 by Nicolo Parungo in Comics

COMIC BOOK REVIEW: The Rocketeer & The Spirit – Pulp Friction #1

Pulp Friction

Before I begin I have to admit that I’m only vaguely familiar with the two lead characters in this comic. The Rocketeer is a character I know little to nothing about where as The Spirit made himself known to me through a horrendous movie by Frank Miller. Thankfully I’m fully aware of Mark Waid whose reputation as a reliable and entertaining writer is unquestionable and “Pulp Friction” is further proof of that.

Right out of the gate Waid provides us with a solid reason for the two characters and their supporting cast to meet: someone from The Spirit’s city is murdered and found in The Rocketeer’s city. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it shouldn’t have to be as it fits the pulpy atmosphere needed for our protagonists.

Waid also does a good job of introducing new readers – like me – to the two leads without relying on a recap page or heavy handed exposition; Spirit is a wise cracking private eye whilst Cliff “The Rocketeer” is a nice guy with a big heart who just happens to have a jet pack. The characters are simple yet charming and their first encounter has them play off each other very well. Without spoiling anything here’s an example of one of their exchanges:

The Rocketeer: Who wears a mask just to talk?
The Spirit: I could just wear a bucket over my head!

The other characters also get treated with the same love; Spirit’s partners Ellen and Dolan are a fun father-daughter team while Cliff’s buddy Peeve is clever and capable. I’m not a fan of how he writes Cliff’s love interest Betty though since she seems rather fickle and mean, but perhaps that’s how she’s always been written so I can’t blame Waid for that.

Paul Smith is a fantastic pick as the artist for this particular crossover. His style is very cartoony and energetic not unlike Darwyn Cooke or Marcos Martin. Everything he does here is great; the facial expressions are terrific, his action is exciting and his women are beautiful. They all add to the pulpy atmosphere. Smith’s storytelling is also pretty good; you’ll never be scratching your head wondering what’s supposed to be happening in any of the panels.


“Pulp Friction” is a great read and comes highly recommended. If you’re a fan of both characters and their supporting casts then you’ll love this and if  you don’t know them it’s the perfect book to start with. Waid and Smith knock this one out of the park and I can’t wait for the next issue.

9 out of 10

Side note: I was pretty shocked when I saw the DC Comics logo on the cover. It also left me wondering why DC hasn’t launched a new Spirit on-going as part of the new 52. Last I checked there wasn’t anything particularly pulpy in their current line of comics and if it doesn’t work with the shared universe they can always relaunch it as a Vertigo title ala Kurt Busiek’s “Astro City“.

Comics came courtesy of Druid’s Keep who are awesome.

Nicolo Parungo