October 30, 1938, Orson Welles broadcasts his infamous War of The World radio show that causes panic everywhere in the country. What if it was a real news broadcast? What if two heroes of the era arrive to try and stop the Martian invasion? Dave Stevens not only had that question but came up with a 3 issue comic book series that would bring together Superman and The Rocketeer!
Created in 1981 and debuting as a two-part story for Pacific Presents comics anthology, The Rocketeer came to worldwide fame in the 1991 film of the same name. To have his own creation meet Superman in 1938 was a project Stevens had wanted to do for a while. In 2001 he spoke about the project:
“Well, there was a scripted three-issue miniseries that I pitched to DC about three years ago, but they weren’t crazy about it because it involved Superman of 1938, and they wanted some major revisions to the storyline and I felt it was good as it was. So, unfortunately, that never went forward either. Too bad for the readers, it would have been fun.”
The story involves both heroes being in Trenton, New Jersey as the radio broadcast is aired. When they both hear it they set off separately to investigate until they happen to meet each other, Superman having to save Cliff Secord who gets mistaken for a Martian in his Rocketeer getup. Meanwhile, the Bix Bentlley gang steals a giant prototype robot to rob banks. Both heroes have to stop the giant robot, investigate the alien invasion and have other adventures during the October night. How was he going to bring this to fruition?
“At the time, I was going to have [Michael] Kaluta do the breakdowns and I would finish the art. At this point, I’d probably still do the covers and splash pages, but just supervise the rest of it. I definitely would’ve overseen the entire thing to make sure it had the right look. That’s pretty crucial with a book like ‘The Rocketeer.’”
Stevens passed away in March 2008. Despite DC not accepting the pitch, Stevens did complete outlines and scripts for the first two issues with a plot and notes for the third issue. There might come a day when this story will see the light, the IDW release of The Rocketeer was a success, so one can only hope with the right artists and writer we can read this adventure story.