The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures

Originally penned in the 1980s, this collection of Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer stories (originally released in 2009; and this year in paperback)—themselves an homage to 1920s and 1930s serials—show how much comics have changed in a few decades. The only two female characters are a no-nonsense mother figure and a Bettie Page–inspired girlfriend, who the Rocketeer believes is only interested in money. With its stylized sex and violence, it’s decidedly different from the 1991 Disney film adaptation, but Stevens’ stories aren’t about gender roles. His art, storytelling and characters evoke 1930s Hollywood—including its broad typecasting—and a sense of reckless adventure that’s hard to find in the charted, Internet-enabled, modern world. Even in a single panel of the Rocketeer blasting off, Stevens’ art conjures up a sense of wonder that’s immune to microaggressions, echoing the style of 1930s comics and film serials. The result is freeing. It’s comic book adventure that is just that: high-flying fun, deadly goons and damsels in distress.