By Mark Waid & Paul Smith
Getting another Rocketeer story from Mark Waid is exciting on its own. But when it was announced that Waid’s returning to the character would also bring about a crossover with The Spirit, the anticipation for what would come increased significantly. Joining Waid on this Rocketeer story is Paul Smith and Jordie Bellaire.
Right off the bat, the tone of the story, set by Smith's pencils and Jordie Bellaire’s colors, is a perfect match for the era of these two leading characters. The book looks a bit faded, colors a bit flatter to match the time. Alderman Cunningham is attending a meeting where some suits are attempting to privatize the airwaves. Cuningham won’t have it, claiming that this will allow individuals to determine what information is fed to the public and how. Hours later, this very same man shows up dead across the country. The technology of the time would make covering such a distance in that time impossible, and that’s where readers are introduced to The Spirit.
The Spirit is tasked with investigating this strange occurrence, and he heads from Central City to Hollywood with Mr. Dolan and his daughter, Ellen. The two worlds come together as it was Betty who discovered the body during a photo shoot. The Spirit, with Dolan and Ellen, sets out by car to interview Betty. Peev has convinced Cliff that the men responsible for the crime may come after Betty. The appearance of these new characters landing at the airstrip, one donning a mask, leads cliff to suit up with the hope of intercepting these unwanted guests.
The following sequence is fantastic. Cliff catches up to The Spirit and attempts to cut him off. The Spirit, leaving the wheel in the hands of Mr. Dolan, leaps from the front of the car, landing on the back of Cliff. As Mr. Dolan spirals into a ditch in the car, the two heroes battle in mid-air. It’s one misunderstanding after another that makes this reunion and introduction all the more explosive. Only through Ellen’s blowing up at The Spirit do things finally dissipate, and it even buys some sympathy from Cliff. The entire group head back to find Betty, but before any interview can be conducted, Betty is awestruck by this new masked gentleman. The entanglement of the two worlds continues to rise as the first issue closes.
Mark Waid is having fun with this title. Just as with Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom, the sense of enjoyment that readers can feel through these adventure tales is palpable. Merging two vigilantes from the radio drama era is a perfect framework for this crime mystery. Though the mystery exists, the manner in which it will be uncovered through the interactions of these characters will remain the focus of the series. After the first issue, it is clear that Waid and Smith know exactly how to handle it.