Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I don't comment on news items very often, but this one struck my eye: "Red Rocket 7 10th anniversary collection on the way." Ten years, huh? I have the set; in fact, I think I have a Mike Allred autographed first issue somewhere as well. But it's not a series I ever go back and reread. Why is that?

Little sidebar: I have never seen the movie Forrest Gump, and am willing to fight to keep it that way. Partly, it's because Tom Hanks acting handicapped doesn't appeal to me, and my kneejerk snarky reaction is that Gump is exactly what it takes to get along in America: be braindead but likable. But, and more to the point here, was this movie the first to have the protagonist as a walk-in for every important figure or moment in history? Red Rocket 7 falls into that same trap: here's Red with the Beetles, here's Red with the Stones, here's Red with Elvis, gosh, isn't Red important and wonderful? I don't think I had a problem with this initially, but later it would bug me.

I'm going to put a big spoiler warning right here, OK? This part coming up is my big problem with the whole series, and it comes at almost the very end of the book. I don't want to ruin it if you have any plans to read it, and I do remember being pretty fond of Red Rocket 7 up to this point.
Red Two is hard. Core.  Period.
OK, here's my biggest problem with this book, which I'll explain via another sidebar: a friend once told me about his dissatisfaction with Bram Stoker's Dracula. My friend was originally from Texas, and although he hated it, the land, the people, and his time there; by God, he still identified himself and took pride in being a Texan. So, he took to the character of the Texan Quincey Morris, who, near the end of the film, kills most (if not all) the vampires, mortally wounds Dracula...and then dies himself. My friend told me he was so pissed, he left the movie right then and there. (I hadn't realized Billy Campbell, star of the Rocketeer played Quincey. Huh.)

It's one thing for a character you like to die, but it's another for them to die after doing all the heavy lifting. That, and it makes you wonder why the narrative follows the ostensible main character if some other guy is going to be such a big point. It would be like watching Frodo and Sam trying to get the One True Ring to Mordor for three movies, and then in the last ten minutes Pippin decapitates Sauron and brings peace back to Middle-Earth. Now, there's probably a story you could get out of that, perhaps the nature of a futile struggle or a valiant effort for a redundant cause; but in this case it's a letdown.

I finally re-read all of Red Rocket 7 today: it's a gorgeous book, and even though it's ten years old, I can't believe it was only $3.95 a issue: twenty-four oversized pages in an album-sized format. It's got alien religious empires, clones, rock stars, existentialism, and ray gun fights. It also has an ending that doesn't make a helluva lot of sense, unless you've seen Allred's indie movie Astroesque. Maybe not even then...I don't want to spoil it, since it's being re-released, and it does have great art, interesting characters, and an unusual trip through some real music history. See if you can find an old issue and try it first.

No comments: