Monday, June 10, 2013

Rocket Queen and The Wrench #1 -- A Review

Imagine this scenario if you will, True Believers.  What If Tony Stark and Pepper Potts Had A Daughter And They Let Her Save The World At Their Side?  Sounds like a fairly standard idea for a comic aimed at kids, right?  Well, while Rocket Queen and The Wrench #1 does feature a brilliant billionaire crime-fighter with an armored suit and his family having adventures, this comic is anything but standard and the superheroes are a sideline to the real story.

Our focus is on Jamie Baldwin, who has a chance encounter with the armored hero Captain Zoom and his young partner Rocket Girl- er Rocket Queen!  Jamie quickly deduces that the two are father and daughter but doesn't understand why they make saving him from a super-villain attack at his school such a priority.  What Jamie doesn't know is that his long-absent father is the head of the Zoom Family's support staff - a duty he takes very seriously, despite it keeping him away from his own family.

The script by Justin Peniston does a good job of establishing the cast and the personalities of our two leads.  Its' clear from the title and the book's cover that Jamie has a destiny and will shortly be following in his father's footsteps.  We don't see any of that in this issue, though the cliffhanger does have Jamie making a discovery that probably won't surprise young readers as Peniston does a fine job of leaving enough clues for kids to connect the dots on their own.

Artist Ramanda Kamarga has a clear, Mangaesque style which suits the story well.  Between the simple character designs that clearly convey their emotions and the stylized armor of the superheroes, there's a lot here that young Manga fans will enjoy.  Kamarga is also a wonderful visual storyteller.  Consider the above sequence, which establishes how Jamie's life changed in two years without a single bit of dialogue.

Rocket Queen and The Wrench #1  is one of the most refreshingly honest kids comics I've read in a while.  It's a superhero comic, yes, but it's also an incredibly grounded story that a lot of kids will be able to relate to. It's rated 9+ on Comixology and I'd consider that a fair ranking in terms of content and complexity, with just enough real-life issues like kids coping with their parents' divorce and the loss of a parent to violence to elevate this just above being an All Ages book. 

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