Thursday, August 25, 2016

Roxy Rocket

Roxy Rocket
Roxanne Sutton

There's been a lot of talk about jetpacks and amazing female characters, but there hasn't been much talk about the original rocket riding adventurer. Roxy Rocket is more of a mischievous villain and less of a murderer and thief, since it's all about the thrills. The burgling is again a little foreplay before the adventure begins, since one needs a plot to start the journey. Sadly her character only had two appearances and one focused episode, though due to production errors she came out in print first. Most of us know her from the high flying adventures of Batman and her deadly race with a highly sophisticated rocket for City travel. Since her tale is so short we decided to talk about her appearances and the character in this little editorial about the Crimson Criminal Roxanne Sutton aka Roxy Rocket!

Comic (First appearance)
Batman Adventures Annual #1

I thumbed through this pretty quick, since there really wasn't a story, well a deep story. If you've seen Batman: The Animated Series, you might know about the episode "Almost Got'em" where villains talk about their almost murder of Batman. This Annual is the first in the anthology and in the reverse of that episode, in the sense of Batman talking about almost correcting a villain, getting them to reform from crime. Pretty much Batman starts and stops with his story about Roxy Rocket, it's somewhat action filled, since she is the center of most panels, though it lasts for about 4 pages, then a flashback.

The plot is pretty much a small back and forth between the TV (well the BatComputer), Batman, and Alfred, since we're given exposition that she was captured and claims to want reform. Then a transitioning parallel to the Ventriloquist, Harley Quinn (art by Dan DeCarlo), Scarecrow, and finally a continuation of the plot. The vocabulary term for this type of storytelling is called book ends, where you start a story, flip to something that has happened or is another plot, then close with the beginning's plot. A lot of kid's shows do that, the most famous show would be Wishbone, it was an awesome series on PBS.

We come back to a full page of a shadowy figure stealing from a vault, the silhouette is that of Roxy Rocket. If anyone has ever read a Batman comic, they'd know that most of his villains either stay off the streets or they become worst than they were before. It's really a back and forth, since Bruce does give a damn (in some continuities) and tries to keep crime low. So for there to be a villain that wanted reform and does just the opposite it can't be them, on a mythology level.

Anyway, Batman talks with Gordon then the scene cuts to Batman finishing his sentence chasing after a blonde woman. Now everyone knows that Roxy Rocket is an amazing Redhead, Crimson it's a dark red, almost looks like it's jet-black in Gotham. Seem that the theft was by Catwoman, which would make sense, since it's not Roxy's M.O. (Modus Operandi / Method of Operation) to rob diamonds, it's the thrill that gets her into action. And speaking of, in shoots the Crimson Rocketeer herself, walloping the cat-burglar who's been stealing her identity.

Between the quips Roxy blasts a laser (not a flare gun) at Catwoman as Batman tries to take command of the situation. Roxy keeps crop dusting, then Catwoman grabs her whip and gets Roxy off her flying horse. The two women keep on their battle as the side of the roof gets closer and closer to an inevitable fall. Catwoman loses her stepping and Roxy reaches out to save the villain, who only replies with a palm full of claws. As the Dark Knight and the Crimson Rocketeer stand at the edge of the roof they look around for Selena. Then Roxy opens an invitation for her to help the Bat, in and out of his utility belt. Her only reason to go back to crime was a mistaken identity, so she ran from the cops for 2 days.

There's a lot of great facial expressions in this short annual and amazing pacing even if this was a framing story to embellish the tales between the hero's interaction with reformed villains. This was worked on by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, this legendary team is without a doubt the creators of my favorite characters. Though as a kid I never got to see her again till Superman the animated series, after I saw her in Batman the Animated Series, but I've never seen her in the comics. I really loved the comic, though it was too short to enjoy the character fully. She was interesting and I did want to see more of her, but from this point on she's been more or less a cameo character in comics or a flavor of the week. One day I'd love someone to make her more of a plup hero gone villain or anti-hero since she's not that much of a bad girl, just a thrill seeker that needs money to live. Maybe one day we'll see her readying that rocket in the sky, blasting lasers with her leather cap flapping in the wind as her crimson hair whips wildly behind during a chase for her life.

Batman: The Animated Series
The Ultimate Thrill

We open with a blimp ride over Gotham, and our focus for the evening Roxy taking petty wealth from the rich folks, nothing that's valuable just the excitement of taking things from people, it's the trill that excites her and jumping from a moving flying vehicle. Then to catch another flying vehicle in mid jump and zooming away from the police and the Bat. Her voice is gorgeous, it's a perfect blend of confidence and ignorance. I guess the best way to grasp this tone is by opening a book and telling you facts, but doing so as a character, maybe a stereotype of a surfer. Everything is factual and correct, everything confident that they'll be able to back up anything that was mentioned, but their voice doesn't quite match their speech. And that's not a bad thing, it's just charming.

Now we don't see that right off the bat, we see that she jumps and leaves a crowded blimp of people and she's encountered a police helicopter. They report that she's not wearing a parachute, which builds the excitement of the episode and the thrill for Roxy as she plummets from the night sky. This is all happening within the first minute of the show, as she pushes a button and gets into the proper position for her rocket to slip under her and ride it off toward the next adventure. Though not before playing with the men in blue, teasing and taunting them. They reply with a machine gun and she plays another game with a flare through their windshield. The helicopter crashes into a building and both members of the GCPD pop out safe and sound. Though this was all just to get the attention of the Dark Knight of Gotham, someone worth the trouble of everything.

It's two minutes in and I don't want this chase to stop. You can hear it in her voice that this is driving her up a wall, exciting her beyond the point of toe curling, that it's more than just a thrill, it's an emotional state. The Bat and the thrill, no seat belts, no parachute, all speed, and every danger along the way. Slaloming through the towering skyway of Gotham City and blazing past the Moon lit crimson sky. This is her version of a romantic night, this is how she courts someone. She tricks Batman into flying his jet into a tight tunnel, it's just too much for his wide winged Batplane. He has to pull out of their little game of chicken and Roxy Rocket leaves, throwing him a kiss, since he tried hard and gave her a good time. Though his plane is burning and the landing is going to be rough to say the least. He makes it all the way to one of the many Batcaves or a Batcave entrance. Alfred makes a wonderful quip and we move to Roxy's Backstory.

Roxy was a stunt double, someone that liked to take on the danger that films needed, but the way she wanted to preform the stunts were too much for most studios and at a certain point got blackballed out of show business. Jennifer Weston was her actress that she mainly doubled, though sometimes played men, depending on the danger, Batgirl added. Oh! Hey, Batgirl, Tara Strong, I mean Barbara, where did you come from? Anyway, we see old clips of Roxy taking on the high flying stunts that no one unless animated should preform. Batgirl tosses in her two cents for flirtation, not sure if it's toward Bruce or implying that Bruce might want to think about opening a studio or hinting that Catwoman shouldn't be his only friendly felon.

Anyhow, Batman starts looking for someone that can take the jewels and turn them into cash. Desperate times and all, and there's no better man that knows desperation than Penguin. Roxy shows him the ice, though her interest is in the lagoon of deadly animals he keeps. He replies back to business and they go back and forth between bird puns. Though she's bored, Roxy wants excitement and adventure, she offers her cut up in a simple game of "high low". You cut the cards, you call which way the deck swings and you get double the pay. The Penguin doesn't seem amused by the idea, seems he's all business and no play. Roxy draws a 10 of diamonds and and Ace of diamonds, it's interesting that she grabbed the same suit. There's another diamond clade creation of Bruce Timm and Paul Dini that came from this series, Harley Quinn has always been a favorite, though these two have never teamed up, maybe this will change in the comics. The banter between the Penguin and Roxy switch over to his concern for her life, though this turns her off and she lets him down as our fearless free flying  femme fatale leaves the icy club.

Cut to Wayne Enterprise building , no setting of day, though it's most likely the next day or another week, it's hard to tell in Batman cartoons if it's early morning or mid evening, since the sky is always crimson red. Bruce Wayne is entertaining reporters after his purchase of a painting, a piece of modern art. Then with a loop and a swirl, as the alter ego of the Bat talks with his associate (Mr. Fox), a deafening crash of glass sprays the office suite as Roxy slams her rocket through the window. With the confusion and the gun toting leather clade redhead walks into the room, Bruce slipped out to grab an attire to help defend the folks still in the office. Though between this time Roxy has finished grabbing the painting, giving her comments about its appearance and use of color, then sliding it into a saddle bag. Then in an act of bravado she sends up a flare to Batman himself, calling the dark knight to action and the thrill of the chase. Her love of danger and getting caught, chased down by the man who can't be stopped, the only one that's known for being as fearless as herself.

It seems the Professor Steeping has a spare rocket laying about.
Tea Steeping and Oona Kulte are off on a joy ride adventure.
(Hope they get back before the Professor notices them gone)

Their race begins with a laugh and a giggle, Roxy takes to the Gotham tunnel, challenging Batman with shots from her flare gun and her skillful use of the rocket she developed for the acrobatics of flying in the City. If one has ever walked in a city, driven, or seen a movie within a City, you'd know that navigating the skyline is something that Superman and Spider-Man are the best, since most heroes would be like the Hulk when it comes to maneuvering. Batman throws a Batarang at the Rocket and it discharges. Hurling Roxy into a world of electrically charged pain and a nosedive toward the pavement. She gets the domesticated projectile to land in a construction zone (again a staple in any City, constant construction), though the vehicle is too far damaged to fly. Roxy's on her feet, running for her life, well running with a painting in hand from a man that she's not sure will kill her or take her to jail. I'm not sure if Batman has ever killed someone or if it's even implied in the underworld that he would. Still she takes no chances with being beaten to death, just the thrill of dangling from death, the intent of coming close by her own hands, though the excitement of another pushing her on, getting her to make mistakes and over that bridge, in short her smile hasn't left for a moment.

Then with one final confrontation with the Bat, Roxy blows up her Rocket and tosses the painting. She's mostly about flirting with Batman and less about the items she steals. Batman is just confused with all of this and let's her get away, since no one was hurt and he got back the painting. Bruce really wants to grab the big hauls, Roxy's fence and her, all at once. Batgirl buzzes the communicator, she knows the name of the fish feeding fencer. Cutting to our frazzled flightless fence he lunges into the prise de fer, gliding the tone of the conversation toward a riposte on the topic of Batman and their entanglement. Penguin takes to his old ways and threatens Roxy with a machine gun umbrella. She doesn't fancy the idea of dinner under the water, those sea lions are horrible waiters. So she takes her leave across the lagoon in the middle of the club. A beautiful track springs into the senses of the viewer, a romantic adventurer's tune that builds and boils blood and life as she takes to the water. The implication is that Roxy was eaten by the sea lions, but it seems that she's not over and done with the plunderous portly poultry. Firing back an explosive round into the club as he replies with a stream of bullets and confusion. Then with a moment as the surroundings are catching fire she uses a grappling hook and swings to safety, ending on a cliche of old movies and saluting the bad guy before running off to the next embracing day.

Penguin isn't done with her, he needs her dead before she tells Batman everything that's happened between them and that he's not on the up and up anymore, he puts a bounty on her head for her waitresses to collect. Though Batman makes his own visit to Penguin at his suite and makes it known that he knows about Roxy. While the Bat and the Bird are talking the three waitresses from the club start on Penguin's murder of Roxy or to beat her up, it's a kid's show, so it's somewhat unclear sometimes if bad guys will kill someone or just rough 'em up a bit. Anyhow we see that Roxy has a bunch of rockets that she works on in an airport hanger. Not sure if she's squatting or owns the hanger. She spots the three who are (in heels) running around (in their waitress outfits), not very combat ready, but I like that they want to stay in motif. They gang up by the door, ready to spring on Roxy, but the tables turn as Roxy advances on them. The thrill of the fight is more important to the crimson haired dynamo as she shows the triplets how to throw a punch. Their collective attack isn't a match for Roxy, ducking and dodging, though replying with banter and a large wrench (spanner). She tricks them with knowledge of the trade, bad guys go straight to the first noise they hear and traps two of them in a plane, sending them straight to Batman, giving her enough time to leave the scene.

Roxy blasts off into the sky, leaving a rocket for Batman to follow. I never knew Gotham was close to a rocky range. The Geography keeps changing to where this place is, but really the setting should change to the way the plot needs it to convey the scene, still at times it feels less like a City and more like a theme park. Anyhow, back to the flight and fight between these soaring souls. Roxy pulls out a much more dangerous weapon, a 1920's laser pistol. A weapon that only in the comic and should've been used more in this episode. Glad to see that it's in this episode that features an amazing and interesting character. Batman's rocket goes down, but that doesn't stop Roxy, nor does it stop the Bat. He shoots a grappling line to pull himself back up to her, but she notices his attempt and she dive into the trees to shake 'em off. This doesn't have the outcome that she wants, but Roxy is ready to have a little test of wills. She tells him that they'll be playing a game of chicken with a mountain side. Batman doesn't flinch, though as the rocket zooms faster to the cliffs Roxy become impatient and tries to undo what has been done to the controls. Batman stops her, grabs her wrist and tells her what she wants to hear, she's a bit taken by a commanding and dominating figure, but the idea of a "final stunt" thrills her heart and gears up for that moment. Then as feet away from the resilient and durable stone, Batman pulls her off of the Rocket, her cries of joy and excitement echo against the walls as he holds her tight to his body. As they plummet  to the Earth Roxy is taken back, as if he stepped away from the shadows and showed the face of a man unexpected, the face of someone that she knew in words and actions, but never their true form. The being that wasn't in her dreams, but the man that wants justice and safety for all. That man is not her knight, her daredevil, the one that she can put on the "final show" with and enjoy every last twitching second. Batman parachutes them down to the ground and they stand there, as he cuffs her, sending her off to the police for judgement. Sadly this is one of the few Batman rogues that really know what they're doing, that it's not some grand delusion or fixation, it's someone that's desperate to feel what they've lost and have it back in their life. She got to have that enjoyment again and lost it so quickly, her sobriety of mind allowed her to be "Roxy Rocket" and not hurt herself, but her immaturity got the attention of more than the Bat. She held her head in woe as the police pulled up to them, ending this "date" in a desired turn of events for the house of Wayne.

Superman: The Animated Series
Knight Time

This is the second time that Roxy Rocket has been in a Bruce Timm production. The girl has taste in thrills, she wants bigger and bolder men in her life. And there's no one more tops than the man of steel. She wants a challenge with flying and dodging a fella, this is the one that won't give you what you want. There's no race, no skill, he's blunt and able to move faster than a locomotive. He catches her without a problem, without more than a few minutes in the episode. At the most she's a tool for exposition, though at least when it comes to animation she's a gem. Other than that this is all she does in the moment that she has, a little flirting and a whole lot of pretty words.

Closing Statements:
Overall, this character represented the pulp adventurer to the letter, a person that's driven on the idea of excitement and passion. Roxy Rocket is driven by desperation, but theatrics to be the hero of the villain world. She is the shadow of her high flying counterpart, but she never has to change between actors (or personalities). She's sound of mind for the most part, but her fixation of thrills does influence her decisions, though not to the point that she doesn't realize harm. Though that is disputable with her debut episode, well the finale of her first appearance, given that she was ready (practically ardent) for death. Usually that's not seen as a rational thought, though that's the plot of Romeo and Juliet, love has us all do weird things. And it's that infatuation with heroes and testing them and their limits while showing off her owe beautiful abilities that make her interesting, but it's her voice and verbal execution that threads the character together. When you first see this character it's a look into the old, the past, the world that we've been to and conquered, though that's untrue. That's a lie to the extreme, when viewing her she's a representation of what's missing in this world, what we lac today. It's excitement, thrill, wild amusement, and adventure. Death is everywhere, but that shouldn't stop us from living a beautiful future, telling tales and conversing with those that want to continue their story. She's in short the avatar of Pulp, a being of hope and life, the idea of vengeance in a whimsical execution.

I trust you enjoyed the inspection, thank you for reading.
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Keep well and Stay well.

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