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Capt'n Eli and Rocketto - Adventure Comics for the Whole Family
Reviews by Scott Tingley, December 15, 2008

One of the greatest graphic novel series I have read in the last few years is the action adventure epic, Rocketto (vols 1+2). It has everything you would want in an action adventure book: action, adventure (duh), monsters, robots, flawed heroes, even more flawed friends, the end of the world and its rebuilding, terrible villians and cool vehicles. The Rocketto series is a treat for anyone looking for something out of the ordinary. It has a sci-fi pulp feel to it, but it challenges the reader to read the words and sequential images, not just skim it all enough to get the gist (which is what I end up doing with a lot of superhero books these days).

It is the future; the world has been smashed by longfrgoten war and what has sprung up from the rubble is something different that the futures I have ever seen depicted on screen or in novels or comics. I have a hard time describing the world created by Frank Espinosa . Imagine airships that navigate the world like a giant ocean; monsters patrolling forbidden zones, ready to spring up at any time, a mafia type system of government, and the MAPPERS. Rocketto was/is a mapper, born with a buit in compass of sorts.Orphaned at an early age, he grows into a reluctant but effective hero - These are his adventures. In a way, these books remind me of Victorian age African adventures mixed with HG Wells science fiction and Doc Savage pulp fiction.

Terrific stuff.

Oh, and the characters say Hell a lot. I would say it it suitable for 13 year old readers, but not so suitable for the classroom. I can't wait to share it with my kids in a few years. I am going to use some images from the Rocketto in the lunch-time comic making club I plan to start at my school this year though. The art has to be seen to be believed. These multi-paneled paintings are very kinetic and different from anything else in comics today and I think it will rove to be an inspiration to some of my kids.

Well, this turned into quite a review. When I started this I was just planning on using a couple lines about Rocketto as a segue into a completely-different-looking-but-similar-in-themes book called The Undersea Adventures of Capt'n Eli: The Mystery of the Sargasso Sea , by Jay Piscopo .
Fans of classic adventure, meet Capt'n Eli!  Created in the tradition of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, this is the story of a boy with extraordinary scientific abilities and unusual ties to the sea.  Join Eli as he dives into the Sargasso Sea and meets the mysterious Golden Age hero Commander X.
(From captneli.com)

This piece has been sitting in my computer for at least two months, and since vol 2 is soon to be released, if it hasn't been already, I figured I better post it up.

Eli's beginnings are a reminiscent of Superman's, except instead of being sent by someone across space, Eli is sent out to sea in a pod by someone (we don't know who yet), only to be found by a kind, elderly couple who raise him as their own. He has some extraordinary abilities and he uses those abilities to help those in need. Lots of stuff is going on that is only flimsily explained, but your kids won't care. This is written for them.

I am reviewing it in conjunction with Rocketto, because Eli feels like "Rocketto for kids". It is more silver age comic writing (comics from 60s and 70s fit into this category) than the pulp/Victorian themed writing from Espinosa's, but the adventures just seem similar to me. Fantastic ships, great teamates (they each have their own cool ship - sort of like in Thunderbirds ), strange and powerful enemies, odd happenings, and adventures galore.

So, in conclusion: Rocketto for you and the teens, The Undersea Adventures of Capt'n Eli for the kids.and you and the teens, but mostly for the kids.



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