Rocket Girl Volume 1: Times Squared by Brandon Montclare, Amy Reeder

Somewhere in this graphic novel (collecting issues 1-5) was a great concept that really became muddled and very unmanageable by the end. Time travel stories have a tendency to do that but this book was particularly unreadable by the half way point. I felt like I’d have to go back and reread it several times just to get a basic understanding of the story. But unlikeable, caricature-like characters didn’t provide enough impetus for me to want to do so.

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Story (as best I can tell): the future has a ‘teen police force’ and they discover that the main technology corporation is evil (who has never seen that as a plot device?). 15 year old police girl goes back into the past to 1985 to prevent quantum physics advances from occurring. Cue mayhem in both timelines as she bounces from wall to wall with her rocket pack and causes mayhem.

Both the future and the past felt overly familiar. The people in 1985 were nearly a direct rip off of what I’d expect to find in a Ghostbusters cartoon. Crazy hair and personalities, over the top 1980s clothing, etc. Annie, the pink haired, glasses-wearing scientist was nearly a direct rip off of the Annie Potts character. And NYPD detectives wear beige trench coats over their beer guts while eating donuts.  Yes, we’ve seen all this before and somehow representing all the cliches of 1985 didn’t do anything to make this feel original. Having our main character, Dayoung Johansson, look like a 15 year old Scarlet Johansson probably didn’t help.

The story jumps around quite a bit between the timelines and I had a hard time following. It should have been easy in a graphic novel – it’s obvious when you see floating cars and steel/glass rather than concrete and brick buildings that you are in the future. But somehow the story really lacked fluidity and I became lost, unable to understand why a person was suddenly in one timeline and then in another the next page.

I found I didn’t like any of the characters. No one really acted with any intelligence – it was all over the top emotive scenes from characters past and future. Dayoung comes across as fairly impulsive and lacking fundamental intelligence – hardly the person I’d imagine I’d want on a police force in any era. The scientists are all over the top – like rappers dragged off the streets in 1985 and pretending to be smart quantum physics scientists. Most scientists I knew in 1985 were in their 50s and balding white guys.

The art is colorful but very dense – that might have added to the difficulty in understanding the story. There’s also a LOT of words/dialogue that really should have been done with images rather than text. After awhile, I began to wonder if this would have been better as a novel instead of a graphic novel.

I liked the idea of a female-driven plot line but would have liked the women to be less over the top and cartoony.  The men were pretty level headed throughout but the girls pretty much run around like crazy chickens squawking about saving the world while the guys picked up their messes.

It looks like someone wanted to have a little fun with a zany concept and crazy characters. But it somehow fell flat for me, personally. Perhaps it is more suited for a different reader.

Reviewed from an ARC.

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