The Rocketeer

Real Name: Cliff Secord

Identity/Class: Normal human with high tech equipment

Occupation: Pilot

Affiliations: A. "Peevy" Peabody (best friend, mechanic); Betty (girlfriend - renamed in the movie to Jenny); Doc Savage; the Shadow

Enemies: Neville Sinclair; Eddie Valentine; Lothar

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: Los Angeles

First Appearance: Starslayer #2 (Pacific, April 1982)

Powers/Abilities: The pack allows him to fly and Cliff is a capable fighter.

History: It is Los Angeles, 1938, and the world hovers on the brink of war. Famous adventurer and scientist, Clark "Doc" Savage Jr., builds a one-man jet pack, which will allow a man to fly. Before it can be properly tested, the prototype is stolen by enemy agents. With the authorities in hot pursuit, they are forced to hide the pack in an airfield hanger, where it is discovered by daredevil pilot Cliff Secord. Not knowing its origin, Cliff adopts the identity of the Rocketeer. He acquits himself so well against the Nazi spies that when Doc Savage finally tracks him down, he allows Cliff to keep the device, feeling he has earned it and can continue to do good in the world with it.

Comments: The Rocketeer character was created by illustrator Dave Stevens in 1981, and was visibly based on the heroes of Republic serials such as King of the Rocket Men. Buried in the last pages of another comic, the response was so overwhelming that the Rocketeer soon had his own comic and quickly became a star in his own right. In 1991 a live action movie was released by Walt Disney. Up against Terminator II and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, it didn't stand a chance, which is a pity because it's a pretty good movie.

(left) The Rocketeer; (right) Commando Cody, one of his Rocketmen ancestors

Dave Stevens steeped the Rocketeer in the mythology of the 1930's pulp era. His jet pack had been built by Doc Savage (never named, but his associates plus his appearance give this away), and he becomes allies with an unnamed vigilante whose appearance is too similar to the Shadow's for coincidence. In addition his girlfriend Betty is clearly intended, both in name and appearance, to be a homage to famous nude pin-up Betty Page.

The movie version of the Rocketeer saw Cliff's part played by Bill Campbell. Betty was renamed Jenny Blake, and portrayed by Jennifer Connelly, while Alan Arkin played Peevy. Since the rights to Doc Savage belonged to others, the jet pack's creator became famous industrialist Howard Hughes. The villains of the movie were Neville Sinclair, an actor and Nazi sympathiser (clearly modelled on Errol Flynn, and portrayed by the then James Bond, Timothy Dalton), and mobster Eddie Valentine (played by Paul Sorvino).

Thanks to Jed for correcting me when I mixed up Errol Flynn with Douglas Fairbanks. Thanks to Gerald Kolpan for other corrections.

CLARIFICATIONS: Not to be confused with

Any Additions/Corrections? Please let me know.

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