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Red Rocket 7 #2
posted June 21, 2006
 

Creators: Mike Allred
Publishing Information: Dark Horse, $3.95
Ordering Numbers:

In the comics shop last week, I heard Red Rocket 7 referred to as "Mike Allred's Comeback Project." I thought this was interesting, because I wasn't aware that Allred had gone away. Stepping a bit closer to the chatting comics fans (but not too close; you don't want to get too close to anyone in a comics store), I came to understand the gist of the conversation was that later issues of Madman lacked that spark which made entertaining comics "great."

I disagree with that general view of Allred's career in more ways than I have space to describe here, but viewing Red Rocket 7 as some sort of special career-reclaiming project for Allred can be sort of fruitful. The plot tracks the life story of the title character as he discovers America by participating in the development of rock and roll: Space Gump! The narrative framework is using the character's present disappearance and alien bang-bang intrigue to throw an inquisitive reporter into the mess (a credible reason to give the back story) and allow for some action scenes.

It's really lighthearted, and not always successful. Allred's art looks lovely on the page, but doesn't portray action as well the quieter scenes (his figures just don't look active to me). The story -- more complicated than the mega-simplistic Madman stories -- winds a little too much. Flashbacks within flashbacks are almost always a bad idea. And while the historical stuff is fun after a fashion, and correct in general (I enjoyed the re-appearance of Little Richard in one of his Pentacostal phases) the details don't seem well-observed enough to allow us insight into the period and the links brought on by Allred's story, such as RR7 teaching Elvis moves he learned from Little Richard, are less interesting than the truth they stand in for. Allred draws a mean Elvis, though.

One truly outstanding thing about RR7 is its look, with Big Numbers-sized full-bleed color pages. Laura Allred really goes to town. It's pleasurable in its way, and won't damage Allred's reputation, but if he's in trouble this is not the special project that will reclaim something that's been lost. But is he in trouble? Either way, don't call it a comeback.

This review was written in the late 1990s as part of a then-ongoing freelance gig; I apologize if it reads oddly or seems incomplete.