Fresh Meat: Rocket Girl Vol. 1: Times Squared” by Amy Reeder & Brandon Montclare

Rocket Girl Volume 1: Times Square by Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder is a time-traveling comic series where a girl must travel back to 1986 NYC to save the future from an evil corporation (available July 22, 2014).

Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder present us with a neat new twist on time-travel: a teenage cop from the New York City of 2013 travels back in time to 1986 to stop the invention of an engine that will allow a megacorporation to establish its near-totalitarian and wholly criminal grip on the city.

Dayoung Johansson works for the New York Teen Police Department, a body established due to people over the age of 20 no longer being considered trustworthy. When she and her partner, LeShawn O’Patrick, stumble across information proving that Quintum Mechanics has been manipulating the past in order to control the present, she determines to travel to the one point in time that begins Quintum’s domination and stop it in its tracks.

Dayoung knows full well that accomplishing her mission will erase the future that she’s from altogether, so this case isn’t one she takes lightly. Fortunately, she has the backing of both her partner and her boss, Commissioner Gomez, who face the existential crisis her time travel causes with a panache that blends youthful optimism with the fatalism of seasoned cops.

Gomez: Leshawn! Come on… wait up! Relax! It’s only the end of the world we’re talking about!

Leshawn: Why’d this have to happen now? You’re supposed to join the NYTPD, put in your teen years on the force and when you’re 20 take a contract with Quintum Mechanics security. Today I invaded Quintum Mechanics corporate headquarters and started a shoot-out in the lobby… and why? …So my partner can change the past and erase everything this city is built on!

Gomez: Listen to you! You sound like an old man. You can keep your boo hoo hoos to yourself!

Leshawn: Heh! And what do you propose we do tomorrow morning?

Gomez: We do like we do every morning…we go to work.

What Dayoung hadn’t anticipated is that the 1986 she lands in isn’t the past she thought she was from. While she had anticipated undergoing at least a little culture shock as she completes her mission, she soon realizes that this 1986 is so far from what she’d imagined as to be, perhaps, entirely wrong. Adding to her problems is the fact that she’s been followed back by thugs from Quintum Mechanics who might not be exactly what they seem either. Greater plans are afoot than just one 15 year-old detective can solve.

The time-travel shenanigans get a little convoluted, but it’s hard to deny the power of beautifully introspective passages like these, where Dayoung examines her own motives for becoming a cop as she’s using the rocket pack that gives her her moniker:

I get to fly. It’s why I joined the NYTPD. I used to lay in bed thinking all about it. Trying to make sure that when I fell asleep I’d be rocketing through my dreams. Force it. Focus. Fantasize real hard and hope when your eyes shut you don’t know the difference. It usually didn’t work! My concentration would drift off… No matter how I tried, when my head got up in the clouds, I couldn’t control what came next. But right now…? Right now I’m living the dream.

Also beautiful, and perhaps the best thing about this comic book series, is Amy Reeder’s art.  It’s rare to find someone so masterful at both emotional expression and rollicking action sequences, but Amy Reeder handles both masterfully. Everything from layouts, pencils, colors to effects is just spot-on perfect for this title, conveying just as much as the script does with the loving attention to detail. The faithful rendering of 80s fashions alone is a great reminder of how different “normal” used to be within most of our own lifetimes. This book is a great metaphor for how alien the past can seem, brought to wonderful life by one of the most talented comic book artists I’ve seen in a while.

See more coverage of new releases in our Fresh Meat series.

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Doreen Sheridan is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C. She
microblogs on Twitter @dvaleris.

Read all posts by Doreen Sheridan for Criminal Element.

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