What Rocket Girl #3 Offers
On July 3, 1985, Back to the Future opened in American cinemas. A July release date means the film, with it’s ground breaking and long lasting time travel themes, opened to audiences in the summer.
When I was younger, I watched similar movies and read similar comics about characters going on wild adventures, usually during the summer. They left me with a sense of nostalgia and adventure.
Rocket Girl #3 gave me a similar feeling. The Back to the Future popular culture link strengthened the story: it recreates the 1980’s strongly with excellent interior art and attention to detail.
Rocket Girl #3 offers:
- A comic about power, and responsible use of power
- Great visual narrative
- Time Travel themes for science fiction fans
- Police Service themes, and criminology ideas
- Youth versus Age themes
The first and last themes would be useful to educators looking to teach about power, youth, and responsibility with comics.
The comic might be confusing for new readers, however, since the plot might confuse at times.
When collected into a trade paperback, and read as a graphic novel, Rocket Girl might make an excellent introduction for readers interested in a new super-hero and time travel themed comic.
Rocket Girl is Dayoung Johannsen. Only fifteen years old, Johannsen has an unusual name, and lives in an alternate time. She comes from 2013, a world unlike the 2013 we just experienced: a major corporation called “Quintum” has taken control of New York City, and turned the Police into privately owned law enforcement.
Rocket Girl belongs to a Police Force of teenagers. Equipped with powerful technology that can gather information from radio waves and wi-fi, and a small but powerful jet-pack, these young officers bravely defend the law.
The comic tells the the story of her current mission: traveling from 2013 back to 1986 to prevent the Quintum from gaining a toehold, which will one day develop into dominance outright. A pop culture link is Trunks from Dragon Ball Z. Just like this young time traveler, Rocket Girl wants to make a few alterations to the past in an attempt to help everyone living in the future.
The 1980’s setting is rendered with such authenticity that in a scene where a character sings along to The Final Countdown (by Europe, released February 14, 1986), you can heard the distinct 1980’s sounds.
In a two page artwork, Rocket Girl is without her jet-pack, and escapes captivity in a Police Station with clever gymnastics, and Parkour. These action scenes shop off dynamic artwork.
Themes, Ethics, Values
In an interview with Comic Book Resources staff writer TJ Dietsch, series creators Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder talked about the moral decision making they wanted to include in the story.
After reading through issue #3, some moral decision making from Rocket Girl herself is clear. There is a question of power, and how power is used.
Rocket Girl travels to the past carrying not just advanced technology, but knowledge of history, and a collection of skills – gymnastics, marital arts, parkour – not common in the 1986 time period. Her possessions could cause catastrophe and change: ripples on a pond. With this weight on her back, Rocket Girl makes a set of choices that show she is trying to weild that power responsibly:
- She does not cause excessive damage. She is defensive, but not aggressive.
- Responding to difficulty, Dayoung shows strength and a desire to help.
- She accepts help from friends offering it. She does not attempt to work alone.
Then there is the Youth versus Age themes. It captures a sense of the generation gap. In the 1960’s, The term “generation gap” was used to describe the unusually large differences in music, fashion, and values observed between younger generations and their elders.
A gap is clear in Rocket Girl, which sets up and appears to continue to include scenes and ideas on younger character’s values in opposition to older character’s values. Rocket Girl herself comments to “Never trust anyone over 30”. Clashes between generations abound throughout the comic.
Works consulted: Generation Gap. http://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Generation_gap.html