October 2012 gave us Matt Fitton‘s Return of the Rocket Men being the sequel to The Rocket Men. Unlike John Dorney’s work which created the concept and pitted these rocket powered pirates against Ian Chesterton, Return of the Rocketmen moved the story forward slightly and gave us a chance to discover how Steven Taylor might fair against them…
The TARDIS crew determine that today’s date is actually Steven’s birthday. This gives an opportunity for Dodo to give him a present of a diary and also for Steven to recall to himself an earlier birthday when he was attacked by Rocket Men, brutally assaulted and only rescued through the intervention of a stranger.
Needless to say the older Steven gets to re-acquaint himself with these evil pirates (led by a van Cleef to remind us of a cowboy motif – he also carries a modified hand gun) and this time he is no untrained victim.
As in the previous tale there is a motif of ‘when do you know?’ running through the story and we also have an exploration of the twists of time-travel and how you act when you believe you must die because you have died
How was it?
The fact that this story picks straight up with a concept and runs with it to tell a new tale is tribute both to Matt’s writing and to John’s creation. This story is less timey-wimey than the previous and for me this made it easier to follow on my journey to work. The story also avoids a terribly cheesy ending and gives us great insight into Steven who is compellingly performed by Peter Purves.
Here for me is why this story works so well – Steven is a trainer military man and pilot, of course he can don the costume of a Rocket Man and be taken for one. Much though I rate Ian Chesterton as a hero I feel Steven is a more natural choice to face off to this fiendish foe.
With hints of a further instalment (Revenge of the Rocketmen?) we have clearly witnessed in the Rocket Men the creation of a villain that seems to have been around for ever.
Well done Big Finish, as ever!
What did you think?