Author: Yehudi Mercado
Cover Artist: Bachan
Synopsis: When Primo Rocket finds out the alien and robot federations are gunning after him in search of a long-lost mythical weapon, he has no choice but to rope his family into an adventure across the galaxy to find the alien responsible. Too bad that alien is locked away in the most dangerous and impenetrable Kaijer Prison Planet known to man!
I’m Yehudi Mercado, creator and writer of the Rocket Salvage mini-series for BOOM!/Archaia. I still feel like a newbie to the comics world. I independently published my first graphic novel Buffalo Speedway a comedy about pizza delivery drivers on the busiest pizza day in history. I followed that with an all-ages graphic novel about troublemaking kids in a tiny Texas town called Pantalones, TX, published by Archaia. I’m a regular contributor to KaBOOM!’s Uncle Grandpa and Amazing World of Gumball comics.
Rocket Salvage is about a family of mechanics on a down-and-out spaceport called Rio Rojo. Rio Rojo is the bad neighborhood of space, but at least it’s away from the thousand years war that has ravaged the galaxy. The war is between the Republic of Galaxies and the Galactic Republic, two equally evil forces neither of which you’d want to win. Primo Rocket is the patriarch who’s trying to teach his kids, Beta and Zeta, right from wrong when there’s not much right in the universe. Primo used to be a famous race car driver until he suffered a career-ending crash which led him to running a salvage yard. I got the idea for Rocket Salvage when I was watching the film Casablanca and thought it would be cool to have a Casablanca in space; I’ve always like the blue-collar characters in sci-fi, like Han Solo, Captain Reynolds from Firefly, and even the crew of the Nostromo in Alien.
Rocket Salvage issue #2 picks up right after Zeta crashes a hover bike participating in the illegal underground racing on Rio Rojo, and Primo has had to kill an ex-racer cyborg who was looking for a mythical weapon that could end the thousand years war. On the run, Primo tells Beta and Zeta they are on their way to see their mother—someone they have never met.
We start, much like in issue #1, with a flashback. This time it’s one month after the crash. Dr. Utzman, the Bova Motors racing team doctor, visits Primo in the hospital. Originally, I had a much longer flashback in issue #1 that really set up a lot, but then it turned out we didn’t get to our main trio of Primo, Beta, and Zeta until the middle of the issue. Since this was my first series—as opposed to a graphic novel—I had to adhere to the 22-page structure, which took some getting used to. But then, breaking up the flashbacks, which is how we begin every issue, allowed me to skip around in time. Then I could really highlight the key moments of Primo’s life, the moments that led him to the predicament he now finds himself in.
So, Dr. Utzman leaves Primo a package as he’s hauled off to a Galactic Republic prison and it turns out the package is Zeta as a baby. There are several things to take note of in the first two pages. One: Primo’s right arm is way skinnier than his left arm and he’s got a contraption on the side of his face. We know Beta has a robotic right arm and sports an eye-patch. Also, there is more evidence that the town hates Primo, as a hospital worker is scrubbing the words “PRIMO KILLER” off the walls.
The next scene takes place on the Hauler; that’s the family’s main vehicle. That’s their Millennium Falcon, but it’s more of a garbage truck than a smuggler’s vessel. I really like the idea of making space travel feel like a family road trip, only in space there’s no truck stop to pull over and get away from your family. In this scene, I needed to have Beta and Zeta discuss Zeta’s crash during the underground race. One of the things that has been touched upon in this world is the idea that racers have enhanced abilities that normal people don’t have. In order to truly handle a speeder, the racer will make a neural link so the vehicle reacts as fast as the speed of thought. A racer with enhanced powers can push the machine to do more. We know Primo doesn’t want Zeta to race, he has forbade it, but Zeta is headstrong and feels she has racing in her bones. Her first attempt turned out to be a disaster, but do you think a little crash will stop Zeta Rocket from racing again?
We move on to Primo explaining to his kids what’s going on: Dr. Utzman created The Weapon and hid it somewhere in Rocket Salvage, but, more importantly, Utzman is their mother! This is the moment Zeta finds out she’s a clone of a clone. In the first draft of the script the idea that there was this racer who raised his harvest clone as his son and the clone of that clone as his daughter was more of a throwaway line, but people kept wanting to know more. A lot of the things that are revealed in issues #2 and #3 are things I was originally saving for the sequel. The first mission I wanted the Rocket family to go on was a more run-of-the-mill adventure where they find something on a salvage mission and it turns their lives upside down. But the more I dove deeper into the mythology of these characters, the more this story changed. The big reveal for the sequel became the focus of this story. But once we all committed to going down this new path, the story just clicked into place and ran.
The family road trip ends at—where else?—a Galactic Republic prison. Issue #2 is still the first act of the story so there’s still a lot of exposition that needed to be established. That’s the tricky thing with science fiction, you’re building a whole new world with new rules and new dynamics but you can’t make it feel like the characters are overexplaining everything.
Rocket Salvage has been a truly collaborative effort. My editors, Rebecca Taylor and Alex Galer, have helped me amp up the emotions and family dynamics while still delivering some badass action. The reaction to issue #1 has been tremendous; it’s nice to have a book that reaches a wider audience. Follow me on Instagram @supermercadocomics and visit SuperMercadoComics.com to see some of my other work. Send me a message and let me know what you think. Stay tuned for issue #3 where things get nuts!