The Final ’80s Countdown, Part Ten.

§ May 29th, 2023 § Filed under final countdown § 12 Comments

Well, still going through the one-voters from that “fave ’80s comics” survey I ran a while back. It’s been fun going through those and finding what, if anything, I have to say about these “golden oldies.” And I apologize to anyone I just aged into dust by calling these comics from the 1980s “golden oldies.”

This time ’round there’s gonna be a series of which I haven’t read one panel, and even as I’m typing this I have no idea what I’m going to say. Let’s find out together, shall we?

The Rocketeer (Pacific/Eclipse/Comico/Dark Horse 1982-1995)

So here’s another exception to the “list just the initial series” in the header. The Rocketeer was serialized over several years, through several publications and publishers, in what was essentially one ongoing narrative, so I just lumped ’em all together here.

The story, written by Dave Stevens and drawn by him with the occasional assistance on layouts ‘n’ such from folks like Jaime Hernandez, began as a back-up story in Starslayer #2 and #3 from Pacific Comics. From there it continued with two more chapters in consecutive issues of the Pacific Presents anthology (1982-3), then on to a longer installment in The Rocketeer Special Edition #1 from Eclipse in 1984. Comico then released two issues of what would be technically the first Rocketeer “ongoing” series, The Rocketeer Adventure Magazine in 1988-9. And then finally, in 1995, the last part of Stevens’ story would be released as Rocketeer Adventure Magazine #3 by Dark Horse. Phew!

The early chapters, pre-Adventure Magazine, are reprinted in a full-color graphic novel from Eclipse in 1985 (which includes a couple of extra new story pages). In the 2000s, IDW would release collected editions of the whole shebang.

It is a fun story, pulpy 1930s adventure featuring a guy and his rocket-pack, and his pals, including his girlfriend Betty, very obviously patterned after real-life model Bettie Page. Stevens’ art was beautiful and meticulous and there was nothing quite like it on the stands. Sometimes the art felt a little stiff to me, without any real sense of action, but that’s a minor quibble. Despite all the delays, including a car accident, a lawsuit (Marvel suing because they said there’d be market confusion between this character some minor villains called “the Rocketeers” from the ’70s, really about as bullshit a suit as they come), a movie (perhaps you’ve heard of it), Stevens persevered and completed his story on his own terms.

Stevens would never do any more Rocketeer stories, and passed away in 2008. However, there are plenty of other Rocketeer comics out there, including the 1991 adaptation of the film published by Disney’s comics division. Probably of note due to artwork by the legendary Russ Heath, over a Peter David script. Also in 1991 was Rocketeer 3D, which was oddly another adaptation of the film drawn by Neal Adams/Continuity Studios and in, as you may have guessed, 3D.

After Stevens passed, IDW acquired the rights to do new comics, starting with the Rocketeer Adventuresanthology in 2011. Now, the IDW comics can be of…varying quality, but by and large they’re entertaining even as everyone involved is surely aware they’re trying very hard to fill some big shoes. Keep an eye out for the Rocketeer/Spirit crossover from 2013, by Mark Waid and Paul Smith. That’s a good’un.
Savage Henry (Vortex/Rip Off 1987-1993)

The temptation to go to ChatGPT and ask it to write this particular section for me is overwhelming. But, learning the lesson from these lawyers getting caught out doing the same thing, I will opt to tell you what I can, considering I’ve not read a single panel of any of these comics.

I remember selling Savage Henry on the rack, but mostly I remember the other series by Matt Howarth from about the same time, Those Annoying Post Bros.. Howarth did some other comics here and there, and at the previous place of employment we just had a “Matt Howarth” section in the back issue bins where we kept them all together. On the somewhat infrequent occasion we had someone looking for his books, that customer was generally looking for issues of all of them, and just keeping them in the same place seemed to make sense.

This comic is in fact a spin-off of Those Annoying Post Bros., a sci-fi/fantasy adventure featuring the band The Bulldaggers and its lead guitarist, the titular Savage Henry. Yes, I had to go to the Wikipedia entry amongst my research (“Siri, tell me about Savage Henry”) and apparently there was a whole pile of real-life musicians who popped up in here. I mean, I knew the Residents popped up in Howarth’s books…I definitely remember that…but, like, Steve Roach? Hawkwind? Andrew Weiss? (No, not that Andrew Weiss.)

I always thought the covers stood out, and Howarth’s art is, I think, pretty neat. I’m sorry I never got around to reading these, I’m sure they’re enjoyable.

Oh, and Savage Henry ran 13 issues from Vortex, before switching over to Rip Off Press for another 17. From that point it had a few new minis from MU Press and Caliber. No collected editions as far as I can tell, but if I’m wrong, let me know.
Scout (Eclipse 1985-1987)

Scout was one of those titles I decided at one point, early in my career of funnybook retailin’, to collect and complete. I only ended up getting the first few issues, and can’t remember why I didn’t get more. It certainly wasn’t the quality, as the series was All Tim Truman, All the Time (except for some back-ups and a couple of guest-artist stints, by fellow Joe Kubert School alumni Rick Veitch, Steve Bissette, and Tom Yeates).

The comics feature the adventures of Native American Emanuel Santana in the near-future of a fallen America, seeking out the Great Monsters of the Apache. Inexplicably I do not own #17, which a tie-in to Tales of the Beanworld.

The initial run of Scout was 24 issues, and a couple of related mini-series not by Truman (New America and Swords of Texas. Truman would return with Scout: War Shaman, which would end after 16 issues in 1989. There’s also a Scout Handbook in there somewhere. More comics were planned, but as of yet had not been released. A hardcover for the third part of the planned saga, Scout: Warauders, was recently just funded on Kickstarter, so it looks like there’s more to come.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t brag mention my copy of the “Marauders” vinyl record by Timothy Truman and the Dixie Pistols. Becauyse, you know, it contains an 8-page Scout mini-comic. No collection is complete without it!

Reprints: Eclipse published a couple of trades back in the day, running up through issue #14 of the original series. Dynamite published a couple of reprint volumes in the early 2000s, which get up to issue #15, so…a full comprehensive printing has not yet been unleashed.

Anyway, it’s Truman, therefore it’s good. Look for those issues in the bargain boxes. There’s only a few dozen to track down, it’s not like you’ve got anything else to do.

• • •

And there’s your three for the day! Yes, I know this is taking forever but honestly it takes a lot to even do just three comics for these entries. A new entry in the Final ’80s Countdown is coming soon…thanks for reading, pals!

12 Responses to “The Final ’80s Countdown, Part Ten.”

  • CalvinPitt says:

    I picked up that IDW Rocketeer collection back probably around the time IDW started doing other mini-series. I didn’t really dig Rocketeer/Spirit, but I don’t really care about the Spirit, which might be part of it. I really enjoyed the Waid/Samnee “Cargo of Doom” mini-series, though.

    Scout and War Shaman I tracked down in 2019. I need to reread the whole thing in one go (including those other 2 mini-series), but I liked it pretty well. I even picked up one of the issues from Sterling Silver Comics when I road tripped with my buddy to a wedding he was playing in Malibu for some friends (I also got the Scud the Disposable Assassin collection and Mike talked my friend into buying volume 1 of Scooby Apocalypse).

  • Cassandra Miller says:

    Savage Henry! It may not have had the cachet of Those Annoying Post Bros, but I loved ’em both. SH introduced a young me to the wonders of Dave Brock and space rock! It was just such a silly ride. (My fave Howarth was Particle Dreams, though.)

  • John Platt says:

    Three more greats! Savage Henry was my intro to Matt Howarth, and remains my favorite of his work. He’s still self-publishing on his website!

  • Wayne Allen Sallee says:

    Mike: are you doing the early 90s? Boneyard Press and Dramenon Press were new, and a writer friend of mine did both b&w for Caliber and color for Eternity.And whoever did Bat, Cats, and Cadillacs, always the first title on our bottom shelf. I worked at that shop from 1990-1994 because Deathmate and there was even a b&w comic that had to do with rock n’ roll bands, then switched to TV stars alternating

    You know where to find me. Prisoner of Cell Block 805.

  • Wayne Allen Sallee says:

    Mike: the only store I saw SAVAGE HENRY in was Chicago Comics up north. One of those places where you think how can this place afford the rent but they had an entire wall of even saddle-stitched comics. They even carried Polkazine, should anyone wonder if there was ever a magazine about Polka music. That section of the store was where the books’ top right corners flapped around from the fans, and they had half the Archie McFee catalogue on it’s front shelf. And the biggest Aztec Ace poster I could ever imagine.

    It is still around, but the weird magic of that one wall is gone. Strictly Marcel and DC and very expensive action figures. Times change.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “Marvel suing because they said there’d be market confusion between this character some minor villains
    called “the Rocketeers” from the ’70s”

    WTF! I didn’t know this! The Rocketeers were minor villains in ROM SPACEKNIGHT. Originally appearing against minor hero Torpedo.

    “Savage Henry”

    Haven’t thought of Matt Howarth’s stuff in a LONG time. I only managed to read a few of his books, but liked POST BROS the best.


    THIS i had the entire run (minus the tie-ins) of! Good book, but depressing.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Wayne (and Mike):

    Speaking of Aztec Ace, did it get any votes? It should have, as it was another great ’80s comic series…

  • Wayne Allen Sallee says:

    Sean: I wasn’t involved with the voting, just waited on the following postings by Mike.

    You might have read where the last LCS near me closed because the guy retired. ALL-AMERICAN COMICS was the first specialty shop in the area, opened in 1979.
    The owner was Carl Bonasera, he had been an art director at one of the suburban papers. So his early customers had worked with him at the paper.

    One of the ad guys came up with names, another the artwork, with the face of Carl from the paper itself.

    They tried to go alphabetically and ASS-PICK ACE was first. I learned that the art brought in at least a few new customers because it was “the store” that had the gags on the wall.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Snark Shark:

    The lamest thing about that Marvel lawsuit is that Marvel (and Stan Lee) were constantly recycling the names of characters from previous publishers: Daredevil, The Owl, Electro, Dr. Strange, Black Cat, and on and on…the was even a short lived feature in the fifties by Jack Kirby called The 3 Rocketeers, which predates Marvel Comics’ Rocketeers and Dave Stevens’ Rocketeer.

  • Snark Shark says:

    True! and the original Daredevil was a pretty well known character.

  • Dave Carter says:

    I loved Savage Henry—it was my entry into Howarth’s Bugtown. Of which I’ve managed over the years to track down and read maybe 80% of it? It’s a shame that we don’t have a set of The Collected Bugtown available.

  • Philip says:

    I’m a big Howarth fan. Unfortunately, his site ( has been undergoing “renovations” for quite a while, and has not been possible to order from him for something like a year.