Out of Order is the Right Order in Rocket 5

by Spencer Irwin

Rocket 5

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

I’ve never been a big fan of the in media res opening (and I just won’t shut up about it!), but I’ve always thought Rocket has used them excellently nonetheless — when paired with the sidebar narration it feels natural to open a story at its end, rather than a cheap crutch. Al Ewing and Adam Gorham take this skill to the next level in Rocket 5, opening the issue with not one, but four in media res openings! Amazingly, it works better than ever.

It helps that the very first page is the most emotionally compelling cliffhanger, relying on readers’ pre-existing knowledge of Rocket and Otta’s complicated relationship to immediately engage them. That said, each of these pages manage to not only set up an intriguing mystery, but to introduce the issue’s key players as well.

At first glance this may be the least interesting introduction, but I’m amazed by the amount of significant detail Ewing packs into the page. Not only does the mystery of Max Sekuri’s past end up playing a key role in Rocket’s heist, but even the line about knowing how to fill out a suit is foreshadowing for Otta’s eventual discovery of Rocket’s deception.

That’s what’s most impressive about the non-linear approach — it suits this story far more than a chronological one would. Ewing and Gorham are able to introduce details and solve mysteries at a pretty consistent rate throughout the issue, allowing each reveal to have maximum impact and avoiding any sort of exposition overload or lulls in the action. And while part of the joy of any heist story is trying to figure out how the heroes are going to get out of each sticky situation they run across, introducing many of the heist’s mysteries up-front encourages the reader to get even more involved in trying to find answers. There are still a few details introduced in this issue that haven’t paid off yet, and a few mysteries not yet solved, and I can’t wait to see how both will be resolved next month — my mind is swimming with possibilities!

So while Rocket may be chock-full to the brim with character and imagination, it’s best feature may just be Ewing and Gorham’s mastery of the medium, their ability to find the best possible method to present their story. If nothing else, it certainly makes Rocket stand out from every other book on the stands right now.

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