You probably know the basics of the Buck Rogers story, right? Catapulted 500 years into the future, Buck Rogers does the whole sci-fi jetpack hero thing in a high-tech world filled with plenty of human drama. And the love interest is a feisty military gal named Wilma Deering, who anyone who came of age in the 1980s will remember very well as the lovely Erin Gray.
Well, all that stuff is in this comic book series as well, and issue #9 doesn't even bother to give a text page intro to fill you in on the details. Dynamite assumes that you've read the previous issues or you'll figure out what's going on pretty darn quick. And they're right. I skimmed through a few "Buck Rogers" issues soon after the series launched, but I've never read an entire issue until now, and I wasn't confused at all. Yet the series isn't overly simplistic -- I mean, it is simplistic, with, basically, a botched rescue attempt and a regrouping for another try -- and it's quite entertaining.
Scott Beatty puts in enough humor to keep things from getting too self-important as Buck tries to help his newfound future friends and protect himself from retaliation. This is a sci-fi romance, in the Edgar Rice Burroughs tradition, and it plays up those aspects while giving it a kind of superhero sheen. Buck and his compatriots in the 25th century navy wear uniforms that look like silver age superhero costumes, and there's a reckless sense of adventure here, one that suits the story well.
So Wilma's brother tries to rescue her from Lord Harrier, the sleazy leader of the powerful Han. He's the guy on the cover trying to make his move, and she's actually not a captive, but an emissary on a diplomatic mission. Yet the mission's just as sleazy as Harrier, as you can imagine, even if Wilma tries to maintain her ladylike composure. It's reminiscent of the "Rocketeer," actually: a kind of chaste sexuality that recalls the adventure tales of yore, even if they are illustrated in a more overt manner these days.
While Carlos Rafael is no Dave Stevens, he's very good. This is a clean-looking, fast-moving issue, and though Rafael doesn't get overly expressive with the physical characterizations, he does convey plenty of emotion in the panels. And his style does recall that kind of innocence once found in children's adventure stories. He's a good fit for the flavor of Scott Beatty's "Buck Rogers."
"Buck Rogers" #9 doesn't push the envelope or challenge any conventions, but it tells a good-hearted romantic adventure in the sleek but imperfect future. With jetpacks and sky-sleds and something called "genius bombs."