Rocketeer Adventure Magazine #1 (1988), Comico Comics. Art by Dave Stevens.

Publication information
Publisher Pacific Comics
Eclipse Comics
Comico Comics
Dark Horse Comics
First appearance

Starslayer #1 (cameo)
(February 1982)

Starslayer #2 (full)
(April 1982)
Created by Dave Stevens[1]
In-story information
Alter ego Cliff Secord

The Rocketeer is a superhero created by writer/illustrator Dave Stevens. The character first appeared in 1982 and is a homage to the Saturday matinee heroes of the 1930s and 1940s.[2]

The Rocketeer is Cliff Secord, a stunt pilot who discovers a mysterious jet pack that allows him to fly. His adventures are set in 1938 Los Angeles, and Stevens gave them a retro, nostalgic feel influenced by the King of the Rocket Men movie serial, the syndicated Commando Cody TV series (both from Republic Pictures), and pinup diva Bettie Page.[3]

In 1991, The Rocketeer was released as a feature film by Walt Disney Pictures and was directed by Joe Johnston. Rocketeer creator Dave Stevens has a small cameo in the movie. He is the German test pilot who is killed when the Nazis' version of a rocket backpack explodes during its take-off sequence. This is a part of the smuggled black-and-white film footage showing the Nazis' top secret rocket backpack tests.



In 1938 Los Angeles, Cliff Secord, a local racing pilot and barnstormer, discovers a mysterious package in his airplane, hidden there by two gangsters who were fleeing the police. In that package, Cliff soon finds what the police were really looking for: a stolen rocket-pack.

References to other works in The Rocketeer

The Rocketeer makes a great number of references to pop culture from the 1930s to the 1950s. The first storyline, "The Rocketeer" features characters from the Doc Savage pulp series, though Stevens takes care not to refer to any of the characters — including Doc Savage himself — by name, so as not to violate copyright and have to pay a licensing fee for use of the characters. "Cliff's New York Adventure" similarly features unnamed characters from The Shadow pulp series, including the Shadow's famous alter-ego, Lamont Cranston.

Besides pulp characters, actors of the 40s and 50s have also visually inspired two characters: Lothar, the villain in "Cliff's New York Adventure", is based on the likeness of acromegalic horror movie star Rondo Hatton;[4][5] and Cliff Secord's girl-friend Betty is modeled after "Queen of Pinups" Bettie Page.[3]

A similar "Rocket Man" character with a near-identical rocket backpack and costume appeared in four Republic Pictures movie serials from 1949 through 1953. The fourth serial, originally conceived of as a Republic TV series, was first released (for contractual reasons) as a theatrical serial. Two years later, it was finally syndicated on TV as twelve 25-minute episodes. The serials were:

Publication history

The Rocketeer's first adventure appeared in 1982 as a backup feature in issues two and three of Mike Grell's Starslayer series from Pacific Comics. Two more installments appeared in Pacific's showcase comic Pacific Presents.[citation needed] The fourth chapter ended in a cliffhanger that was later concluded in a special Rocketeer issue released by Eclipse Comics.[7] The complete story was then collected by Eclipse in a volume titled The Rocketeer (ISBN 1-56060-088-8). It was published in three states: a trade paperback edition, a trade hardcover, and a signed, limited edition hardcover. Noted fantasist Harlan Ellison, a fan of the Rocketeer and also friend of Dave Stevens,[citation needed] wrote the introduction to the book. Both Dave Stevens and Harlan Ellison signed the limited edition on a specially bound-in bookplate.

The story was continued in the Rocketeer Adventure Magazine. Two issues were published by Comico Comics in 1988 and 1989, the third installment did not appear until years later, published in 1995 by Dark Horse Comics. All three issues were then collected by Dark Horse into a slick, trade paperback titled The Rocketeer: Cliff's New York Adventure (ISBN 1-56971-092-9) that quickly went out-of-print.

On February 28, 2009, IDW Publishing announced a hardcover collecting the entire series for the first time, intended to be published in October 2009. Dave Stevens' The Rocketeer, The Complete Adventures contained new coloring by Laura Martin, who had been chosen by Dave Stevens prior to his death.[8] The book appeared in December, two months later than announced, in two versions: A standard trade hardcover edition with full color dust jacket and a second, more lavish, deluxe edition (ISBN 978-1600105371), limited to 3000 hardcover copies. The deluxe edition used different Stevens artwork for its dust jacket and was issued in an illustrated, all color slipcase. It also had full color illustrated endpapers. While the deluxe contains the same Rocketeer comics reprints as the trade edition, it adds more than 130 pages of previously uncollected Rocketeer material: sketches, preliminaries, character designs, script pages, photographs, and original art pages, with commentaries by Dave Stevens and several peers who occasionally assisted him on The Rocketeer. The deluxe edition sold out almost immediately upon publication, but a second printing was planned by IDW.

IDW debuted the first issue of a brand new comics series, Rocketeer Adventures, in May 2011. Issue #1 featured work from John Cassaday, Mike Allred, Kurt Busiek, and Michael Kaluta, plus pin-ups by Mike Mignola/Dave Stewart and Jim Silke. Every issue published offered four different variant cover designs by Alex Ross. To celebrate the launch of this all-new Rocketeer series, IDW's Hundred Penny Press also simultaneously released a $1 re-issue of the original The Rocketeer #1 by Dave Stevens, fully remastered and recolored by Eisner-winner Laura Martin.

Computer games

The Rocketeer was also adapted for a computer game (Rocket Ranger) for Commodore Amiga and also PC machines. Using digitized sound and 256-color VGA graphics, it consists of a sequence of several levels, each of them in different action style, and the story is carried between levels with comic book-style strips and spoken dialogue. A version of this title later appeared on the Super Nintendo.[citation needed]

There is also a game for the NES, a side-scrolling platform jumping game closely based on the movie adaptation.

Rocketeer references in popular culture


  • The character Gabe from the Penny Arcade webcomic confuses the term racketeering with rocketeering as both a satirical jab at a recent event and a tribute to the Rocketeer character.[9]
  • Eric Canete's cover for Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin#1 pays homage to the Rocketeer film's Art Deco-style theatrical poster.[10]
  • The webcomic Basic Instructions occasionally features the character "Rocket Hat", who battles the Moon Men.[11]

Computer games

  • In the computer game Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2 the Allied Forces have flying infantry units called the Rocketeers.
  • The Capcom video game Dark Void features a jetpack-wielding protagonist and draws heavily from the World War themes of the Rocketeer.


  • In the Family Guy episode "420" during the "Bag o' Weed" song, Stewie sings "When stupid people need a thrill, they rent The Rocketeer."



IGN listed the Rocketeer as the 76th greatest comic book character stating that the Rocketeer taps into that popular desire to fly; IGN also states that his saga remains a compelling one.[12]


  1. ^ Nelson, Valerie J. "Illustrator created 'Rocketeer' comic." The Los Angeles Times,March 13, 2008. Retrieved: December 17, 2010.
  2. ^ Gustines, George Gene (March 30, 2008), "Dave Stevens, 52, Artist Who Created the Rocketeer, Dies", The New York Times,, retrieved 2010-10-21 
  3. ^ a b "Dave Stevens." Retrieved: October 21, 2010.
  4. ^ "Dr Hermes Retro-Scans: "The Rocketeer" Retrieved: March 12, 2011.
  5. ^ "Rondo Hatton biography." Retrieved: March 12, 2011.
  6. ^ Kelle, Alexandra. "Movie Serials.", 2010. Retrieved: September 10, 2010.
  7. ^ The Comics Reporter
  8. ^ "IDW Resurrects The Rocketeer." IGN. Retrieved: October 31, 2010.
  9. ^ Penny Arcade! - Our Old Tricks
  10. ^ Best Shots Extra: Cap: The Chosen #1, Iron Man: Enter The Mandarin #1, Ms. Marvel #19 - Newsarama
  11. ^ "Example strip.", February 2010. Retrieved: October 21, 2010.
  12. ^ "The Rocketeer is number 76". IGN. Retrieved May 11, 2011. 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Rocketeer — «Rocketeer» …   Википедия

  • Rocketeer — est un comic book de Dave Stevens relatant les aventures d un jeune aviateur dans les années 1930. La série a reçu deux Jack Kirby Award, celui du Meilleur dessinateur (Best Artist) en 1985 et celui Meilleur album (Best Graphic Album) en 1986.… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • rocketeer — [räk΄ə tir′] n. an expert in rocketry …   English World dictionary

  • Rocketeer — Filmdaten Deutscher Titel Rocketeer – Der Raketenmann Originaltitel The Rocketeer …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • rocketeer — noun Date: 1832 1. one who fires, pilots, or rides in a rocket 2. a scientist who specializes in rocketry …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • rocketeer — /rok i tear /, n. 1. a person who discharges, rides in, or pilots a rocket. 2. a technician or scientist whose work pertains to rocketry. Also, rocketer /rok i teuhr/. [1825 35; ROCKET1 + EER] * * * …   Universalium

  • rocketeer — noun Somebody who designs, launches, operates, or travels in a rocket …   Wiktionary

  • rocketeer — noun a person who designs or operates space rockets …   English new terms dictionary

  • rocketeer — rock·e·teer …   English syllables

  • rocketeer — rock•e•teer [[t]ˌrɒk ɪˈtɪər[/t]] n. 1) rkt a person who discharges, rides in, or pilots a rocket 2) rkt rocket scientist 1) …   From formal English to slang

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.