The Rocketeer,

Minute 084: Cost a Man’s Life

August 17, 2017


Brian Fies is a writer and cartoonist who created the award-winning graphic novels Mom’s Cancer and Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow, as well as the Eisner Award-nominated webcomic The Last Mechanical Monster. He’s been a newspaper reporter, environmental chemist, science writer, husband, and dad to twin girls.  Just like The Rocketeer, he lives in California.


At Hughes Aircraft, Howard Hughes is screening a German film for Cliff and Peevy in his office.

On the screen, Hitler and his aides are examining a crude version of the X-3 rocket pack strapped to a man in a field.

“The German prototype had the same problem as our first design,” explains Howard. “The combustion chamber would overheat and explode. My boys finally figured it out: a double-walled chamber into which the fuel is pumped. Cools the chamber and preheats the fuel at the same time.”

On the screen, the German test pilot stands next to a Nazi airman, who is initiating the launch of the German rocket pack. The pilot with the rocket pack lifts off the ground, then explodes in a ball of flame. Airmen race in with extinguishers, and a Nazi officer waves for the camera to shut down.

“The German experiment didn’t seem like much to worry about,” says Hughes, “but when we got our hands on this next film, we realized the scope of their plan.”

The screen goes dark, and then a countdown onscreen from 7 begins.

“Keep watching, Kid,” says Hughes. “Cost a man’s life to get this out of Germany.”

On screen, the words “EIN NEUER ANGANG” (“A New Dawn”) appear. Animated V-shaped groups of flying commandos move across the sky. In front of a Nazi flag, helmeted rocket men lift off to join the air groups.

A map of Europe, with a large swastika over Gemany appears. Eight arrows expand to all points of the compass from the swastika.

Peevy watches the screen.

An animated scene shows squads of Nazi flying commandos sweeping over a devastated city scape.

A map of the Atlantic Ocean shows large arrows from Europe stretching toward the East coast of the United States. The arrows impact Baltimore, Mississippi, and Chicago.

A United States flag burns as the mast it’s attached to falls down.

Waves of Nazi flying commandos glide over a burning US Capitol dome. A Nazi flag rises above the scene, replacing the burning American flag.

In This Minute

Bill Campbell as Cliff Secord
Ed Lauter as FBI Agent Fitch
James Handy as FBI Agent Woolanski
Terry O’Quinn as Howard Hughes
Alan Arkin as Peevy
Dave Stevens as German Test Pilot
Unknown as Hitler



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