Released around this time last year, the first hardcover collection of Rocketeer Adventures anthology quickly shot to the top of my list of 2011's best looking comic books. Created by the late Dave Stevens, The Rocketeer offers creators a platter of uncommon beauties with which to work --the gorgeous pre-war period and associated Americana, the masterful Rocketeer character design, and the stunning Betty, modeled after pin-up legend Bettie Page -- making Rocketeer Adventures essential reading for fans of classic comic book storytelling, great illustration and genuinely fun stories of adventure and romance.

The second volume, serialized in four issues and collected in hardcover in time for Xmas, continues the incredibly high standard of contributors set by the first round of shorts. The creative roster includes Kyle Baker, Bill Sienkiewicz, Stan Sakai, Arthur Adams, Paul Dini, Walt Simonson, John Paul Leon, J. Scott Campbell, Chris Sprouse, David Lapham, Matt Wagner, Eric Powell, Eric Canete, J. Bone, John Byrne and Darwyn Cooke, among many others.

Cover by Darwyn Cooke

Set before and during World War II, The Rocketeer stories star Cliff Secord, a young, handsome and broke pilot desperately in love with his model-actress girlfriend Betty. Jealous and insecure, Cliff nearly gets himself killed again and again trying to find some money with which to prove that love, and finding an experimental rocket pack only makes things worse for him (but better for us). Truthfully, occasions where The Rocketeer depicts a traditional good vs. evil adventure story are very rare, as most of the time the hero is doing something incredibly foolish and getting rightly punched in the face for his trouble, with poor Betty caught in an endless loop of both worry and fury.

This endearing character dynamic combined with the aesthetically perfect period helped bring out the best in Stevens' talents, and the same is true for the always impressive roster editor Scott Dunbier assembles for each issue of Rocketeer Adventures.

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Art and color by Sandy Plunkett, story by Marc Guggenheim

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Art and color by Bill Sienkiewicz, story by Peter David

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Art and story by Stan Sakai, color by Dave Stewart

Art and color by Colin Wilson and Dave Stewart, story by Tom Taylor

Art and color by Bill Morrison and Serban Cristescu, story by Paul Dini

Art and color by Chris Sprouse, Karl Story and Jordie Bellaire, story by David Lapham

Art, color and story by Kyle Baker

Art and color by Eric Canete and Sandra Poulson, story by Walt Simonson

Art and color by Walt Simonson, Bob Wiacek and Jordie Bellaire, story by Louise Simonson

Art and color by J. Bone, story by David Mandel

Story and art by John Byrne, color by J. Bone

Rocketeer Adventures Volume 2 goes on sale in finer comics shops and bookstores this Wednesday. The serialized version, issues #1-4, are available digitally right now at ComiXology. You can find the first volume at those same places.

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