Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Crossover Covers: The Rocketeer

In Dave Stevens' excellent comic The Rocketeer, the inventor of the rocket pack used by Cliff Secord is clearly Doc Savage, though he is never referred to by name and his face is always obscured. Monk and Ham also appear. In the sequel, Cliff's New York Adventure, Cliff works with a man named Jonas, who is clearly meant to be the Shadow, though he never dons his familiar outfit. One possible non-pulp crossover in this story that isn't often mentioned is that a cab driver named Moe (implicitly Moe "Shrevvy" Shrevnitz, one of the Shadow's agents) drives a taxi with the word "Sunshine" on one of its doors. The New York-based Sunshine Cab Company was featured in the 1978-1982 sitcom Taxi. This isn't the only reference bringing Taxi into the CU, but it's still pretty cool. The Rocketeer is one of Win's favorite comics, and the one that got him thinking of a larger Crossover Universe that had the members of the Wold Newton Family coexisting with other heroes. Dave Stevens died far too young, and he is missed by myself and many other fans of great writing and gorgeous art. He is also to be commended for everything he did for Bettie Page, upon whom Cliff's girlfriend was based and named after. (In the film adaptation of the comic, the inventor of the rocket pack was changed from Doc Savage to Howard Hughes, and Cliff's girlfriend was changed to an actress named Jenny Blake, among other changes.) IDW Publishing has done an admirable job of publishing new adventures of the Rocketeer, several of which have crossovers of their own.

6 comments:

  1. Great job!

    I love the entire ROCKETEER series done by the late great comic book writer, illustrator, and creator, Dave Stevens.

    In particular, because of the subtle crossovers that he included.

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  2. Great post about a great comic and pulp hero character, Sean! As Luc noted up above, I think it's pretty awesome that Dave Stevens didn't hesitate to incorporate sitcom characters into the greater CU. A shared universe that includes much more than just pulp heroes & villains and monsters has always been of great interest to me. In fact, I myself brought the sitcom "Diff'erent Strokes" into the CU by connecting Phillip Drummond's ancestor Heinrich Van Drummond - whose unfortunate occupation as a slave trader was the major focus of one memorable episode of the show - with the pulp heroine Florence Drummond, a.k.a., the Flame, in my story "Patricide" which was published in TALES OF THE SHADOWMEN Vol. 8: AGENTS PROVOCATEURS. Of course, that in turn brings the sitcoms "The Facts of Life," "Hello, Larry," and "Silver Spoons" into the CU as well, since the first two are spin-offs from "Diff'erent Strokes" and the third one had a direct crossover with it.

    And if I may be permitted a shameless but relevant plug here, my website Wold Newton Beyond (http://monstaah.com/woldnewtonbeyond) has the very purpose of bringing characters from many different non-hero and non-monster oriented genres into the Wold Newton Universe, and by extension into the Crossover Universe.

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  3. Dave Stevens did not have any conception of a wider CU, so IMO that overreaches...

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  4. Sean, thanks for noting The Rocketeer's influence on some of my initial thinking about an expanded Wold Newton Universe. Mr. Stevens certainly had no intent to contribute to a wider crossover continuity, but his influence on me is undeniable. I discuss it at more length my foreword to the new edition of Philip Jose Farmer's biography, DOC SAVAGE: HIS APOCALYPTIC LIFE (2013; both the Meteor House hardcover and Altus Press trade softcover editions).

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  5. I've often thought that the reason that in the film version it's Hughes that builds the rocket pack is because, as you say, Doc is never named and Cliff wrongly attributes the pack to Hughes when Monk and Ham show up.

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  6. Well, that and maybe the fact that Conde Nest would have probably sued if they had used Doc in the movie.

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