Montclare, Brandon & Amy Reeder. Rocket Girl. (Vol. 1)

Berkeley: Image Comics, 2015.

I outgrew superhero comic books decades ago, at least those that just reshuffle the classic clichés and the same tired old cast of characters, but now and then someone comes up with an interesting variation. And this one is certainly original.

DaYoung Johansson is a freckle-faced, shaggy-haired fifteen-year-old from the “future” of 2013 (two years before this book was published, that is), she’s a detective in the New York Teen Police Department, and she’s just traveled back to the past — her past — of 1986, where she hopes to interfere with the Quintum Corporation’s invention of a time machine, and thereby save the world. It’s a thankless job but, you know — someone’s gotta do it. The theory behind her trip is that Quintum owns and controls practically everything in the future, including the police, and they shouldn’t be allowed to.

And that’s pretty much the whole plot, right there. The story, such as it is, consists of DaYoung eluding the ignorant clutches of the cops in the past (including an Italian detective straight out of central casting c.1935) and battling the cops of the future on their “hawkcycles,” and sometimes it’s the same cops. And she has to protect the young Ph.D. candidates who built the time machine — and who accepted her existence instantly when she first appeared, even immediately calling her by her first name and colluding in her mission, even when she tells them they’re technically the Bad Guys.

There are plot holes and unanswered questions galore. Why does the future NYPD consist only of teenagers? How did Quintum come to control the future when their time machine’s operation was already blocked? (The author throws in the phrase “reverse engineering” a lot, but without explanation.) How did Quintum pack a couple centuries’ worth of technological advancement into twenty-seven years? Why don’t the hawkcycle cops remember what happened to them in the past? I suspect that, among other things, the author has never dealt with the complexities of a time-travel plot before.

The artwork, I have to say, is very nice indeed. The characters are individuals, with telling expressions, and the action scenes are very “DC” in style. Too bad the story the art is supposed to serve is such a mess.

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