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The Rocketeer
Rocketeer (Alex Ross's art).png
Cover of Rocketeer Adventures 1 (May 2011 IDW), art by Alex Ross
Publication information
PublisherPacific Comics
Eclipse Comics
Comico Comics
Dark Horse Comics
IDW Publishing
First appearanceStarslayer #2 (April 1982)
Created byDave Stevens[1]
In-story information
Alter egoCliff Secord
Notable aliasesThe Flying Man, The Rocket Man
AbilitiesAbove-average hand to hand combatant
Excellent athlete
Highly skilled pilot and marksman
Flight via jetpack

The Rocketeer is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books originally published by Pacific Comics. Created by writer/artist Dave Stevens, the character first appeared in 1982 and is an homage to the Saturday matinee serial heroes from the 1930s through the 1950s.[2]

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

The character was adapted into the 1991 Walt Disney Pictures film The Rocketeer by director Joe Johnston.


In 1938 Los Angeles, Cliff Secord, a local racing pilot and barnstormer, discovers a rocket pack hidden by two gangsters fleeing the police. When he decides to take it for a spin, his life is turned upside down in more ways than one.

Publication history[edit]

The Rocketeer's first adventure appeared in 1982 as a backup feature in issues #2 and #3 of Mike Grell's Starslayer series from Pacific Comics. Two more installments appeared in Pacific's showcase comic Pacific Presents #1 and 2. The fourth chapter ended in a cliffhanger that was later concluded in The Rocketeer Special Edition #1, released by Eclipse Comics in 1984.[4] Eclipse then collected "all 5 action chapters" in volume seven of their Eclipse Graphic Album series, The Rocketeer (1985), featuring an introduction by Harlan Ellison.

On February 28, 2009, IDW Publishing announced a hardcover collecting the entire series, 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.[5]

Following Stevens' death, IDW began publishing additional Rocketeer comics. In 2011 and 2012, several stories by authors including Jonathan Ross, Kurt Busiek, Mark Waid, and others were collected in Rocketeer Adventures, volumes one and two, edited by Scott Dunbier.[6][7] Two full length graphic novels, Mark Waid's The Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom and Roger Langridge's The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror, which was narrated by a version of Groucho Marx, were published in 2013.[8][9] Finally, in 2014, Waid published another graphic novel linking the Rocketeer with The Spirit in The Rocketeer & the Spirit: Pulp Friction.[10]

In September, 2014, IDW issued The Rocketeer: Jet-Pack Adventures, a prose anthology of ten short stories written by authors including Yvonne Navarro, Don Webb, Gregory Frost, Nancy Holder, Nancy A. Collins. Set between 1939 and 1946, the stories feature appearances by such historic figures as Howard Hughes, Hedy Lamarr, Tarzan's Johnny Weissmuller, and writer Zane Grey.[11]

In January 2023 it was reported that IDW Publishing would be publishing a one-shot anthology, The Rocketeer, which was first conceived by filmmakers Kelvin Mao and Robert Windom when they discovered during production of their documentary, Dave Stevens: Drawn to Perfection, that Danny Bilson and the late Paul De Meo, who wrote the screenplay to the 1991 feature film adaptation The Rocketeer, had written an unpublished Rocketeer comics story, featuring an appearance by real-life aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart. That story would be illustrated by Adam Hughes. The book also includes four-page story of the Rocketeer fighting a Japanese Zero fighter plane in the South Pacific, written by Windom, who described it as "dreamy contemplation on life and love," and drawn by Jae Lee, and a 12-page story written by Mao and drawn by Craig Cermak, of Cliff Secord's date night with Betty, which leads to conflict with "a vaguely familiar adventurer/archeologist".[12]



Besides pulp characters, actors of the 1940s and 1950s 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;[13] and Cliff Secord's girlfriend Betty is modeled after "Queen of Pinups" Bettie Page.[3]

A "Rocket Man" character, with a near-identical rocket backpack and similar uniform, appeared in four Republic Pictures movie serials from 1949 through 1953. The fourth serial, originally conceived as a syndicated Republic TV series, was first released under contractual obligation to movie houses as a regular multi-chapter theatrical serial; two years later, it was re-cut with new footage and additional music added and finally syndicated on NBC television stations as twelve 25-minute episodes. The four Republic Rocket Man serials were: King of the Rocket Men (1949), Radar Men from the Moon (1952), Zombies of the Stratosphere (1952), and Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe (serial 1953, TV series 1955)[14]

In other media[edit]



Video games[edit]

  • The first officially licensed Rocketeer game was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in May 1991. It is a side-scrolling action game published and developed by Bandai, and followed the plot of the film.[22]


Comic homages[edit]


IGN listed the Rocketeer as the 76th Greatest Comic Book Character, stating that the Rocketeer taps into that popular desire to fly. IGN also stated the Rocketeer saga remains a compelling one.[25]


  1. ^ Nelson, Valerie J (March 13, 2008). "Illustrator created 'Rocketeer' comic." The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 17, 2010.
  2. ^ Gustines, George Gene. "Dave Stevens, 52, Artist Who Created the Rocketeer, Dies." The New York Times. March 30, 2008. Retrieved: October 21, 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Dave Stevens." Retrieved: October 21, 2010.
  4. ^ "Dave Stevens: 1955–2008." The Comics Reporter. Retrieved: September 24, 2012.
  5. ^ "IDW Resurrects The Rocketeer." Archived 2010-11-23 at the Wayback Machine IGN. Retrieved: October 31, 2010.
  6. ^ Dunbier, Scott (November 2011). Rocketeer Adventures, Volume One. San Diego, California: IDW. p. 134. ISBN 9781613770344.
  7. ^ Dunbier, Scott (December 2012). Rocketeer Adventures, Volume Two. San Diego, California: IDW. p. 130. ISBN 9781613774014.
  8. ^ Waid, Mark (March 2013). The Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom. San Diego, California: IDW. p. 136. ISBN 9781613775653.
  9. ^ Langridge, Roger (July 2013). The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror. San Diego, California: IDW. p. 104. ISBN 9781613776865.
  10. ^ Waid, Mark (February 2014). The Rocketeer & the Spirit: Pulp Friction. San Diego, California: IDW. p. 94. ISBN 9781613778814.
  11. ^ Conner, Jeff; Waltz, Tom (September 2014). The Rocketeer: Jet-Pack Adventures. San Diego, California: IDW. p. 410. ISBN 9781613779071.
  12. ^ Johnston, Rich (January 18, 2023). "Adam Hughes, Jae Lee & Craig Cermak Draw New Rocketeer Comic". Bleeding Cool. Archived from the original on January 18, 2023. Retrieved January 23, 2023.
  13. ^ "Dr Hermes Retro-Scans: "The Rocketeer" Archived 2011-08-15 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved: March 12, 2011.
  14. ^ Kelle, Alexandra. "Movie Serials.", 2010. Retrieved: September 10, 2010.
  15. ^ Maltin 2000, p. 302.
  16. ^ Brodesser-Akner, Claude (August 21, 2012). "Exclusive: Disney's The Rocketeer Being Reloaded". Vox Media.
  17. ^ "'The Rocketeer' Making a Comeback on Disney+ with David Oyelowo Producing & Circling to Star; ed Ricourt Penning". 30 August 2021.
  18. ^ "Disney's The Rocketeer Cartoon Adds Two New Cast Members". Comic Book. 2019-07-27. Retrieved 2019-08-27.
  19. ^ "Disney Junior's "The Rocketeer" Premieres Friday, Nov. 8, on Disney Channel, Disney Junior and DisneyNOW". The Futon Critic. October 10, 2019.
  20. ^ Trumbore, Dave (February 27, 2018). "'The Rocketeer' Set to Return … As an Animated Disney Junior Series?". Collider. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
  21. ^ Breznican, Anthony (August 12, 2021). "Marvel's What If…? Creators Reveal Abandoned Story Lines". Vanity Fair. Retrieved August 12, 2021.
  22. ^ GameFAQs: The Rocketeer (NES)
  23. ^ Penny Arcade! – Our Old Tricks
  24. ^ Best Shots Extra: Cap: The Chosen #1, Iron Man: Enter The Mandarin #1, Ms. Marvel #19 - Newsarama Archived 2007-09-11 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ "The Rocketeer is number 76". IGN. Retrieved May 11, 2011.


External links[edit]