The Rocketeer – Cargo of Doom follows the adventures of Cliff Secord, also known as The Rocketeer. Our story opens with Sally, the young assistant around the airport, trying to pass a plane inspection when the inspector gets a little too personal. Sally fends him off, but triggers a parachute releasing and wrapping itself around the plane as a result. Peabody sees the plane in trouble and calls for Cliff to suit up and rescue them as The Rocketeer. After helping Sally land the plane, Cliff lets them go. The inspector blusters a little but leaves before Sally tells exactly what happened. We then cut to a mysterious cargo ship on the ocean, carrying a dangerous load. All we see when someone inspects the load are two eyes, followed by the foolish person losing both hands with a terrifying scream.
The story flips back and forth between Cliff and Betty (his girl), the problems at the airport with the government inspectors, and the cargo ship with its master. We are introduced to a new inspector for the government, Earl, who seems to take a dislike to Cliff. The Rocketeer is smoked out, only to have his rocket stolen. Cliff’s identity is revealed to Earl. Cliff and Earl leave to get the rocket back and the mysterious cargo is revealed along the way.
We’re introduced to some very pulp-feeling storylines at this point, involving fabulous beasts, death rays, cliff-hangers, narrow escapes, and good against evil in a race to the finish. Of course, it’s a Rocketeer story so the ending may be somewhat predictable, but no worse because of it.
My thoughts: There are definitely some moments where suspending disbelief may be more necessary than others. The cargo that’s revealed is definitely one of them. However, when taken in the spirit of a pulp adventure, the whole story works. The battles are never a foregone conclusion with both sides being surprised by the changes in circumstances along the way. There are moments when it seems all hope is lost, but somehow the heroes are able to come back and resume the fight. The story ends with some foreshadowing of trials to come, but overall on a satisfactory note. I would definitely recommend this for fans of the Rocketeer or people who might want to read a Rocketeer story. I found the story easy to pick up without requiring a lot of background knowledge about the characters. There is only one scene that might be a little disturbing for younger readers when a person loses his hands, though even that isn’t as graphic as it could have been.
Disclaimer: I was provided with a preview copy with no expectations from the publisher. The thoughts expressed in this review are my own and were not influenced by anyone else.