Rocket Raccoon #1
Skottie Young – Words & Art
Jean-Francois Beaulieu – Color Art
Jeff Eckleberry – Lettering
Review by Joey Braccino
“Don’t you just feel so lucky to be with the last of an entire race? I mean come on, I’m a real one of a kind.” – Rocket
With the upcoming, highly-anticipated Guardians of the Galaxy film hitting theatres in one month, you might be wondering if this onslaught of GotG merchandising and publishing and the like is just some blatant marketing ploy to increase visibility for what are otherwise obscure characters. You might go so far as to ask if any readers actually wanted or needed an ongoing Rocket Raccoon comic book (and Legendary Star-Lord comic, also released today). I mean, these movie tie-ins are often rushed, vapid, and devoid of any significance to either the rest of the publishing line or the films themselves. So why bother?
Well, the answer—at least in regards to this new Rocket Raccoon series from Skottie Young—is quite simple:
BECAUSE THIS COMIC GLARKGING RULES.
You want humor? Check.
You want heart? Check.
You want intrigue? Check.
You want clever in-jokes and allusions re: your favorite sci-fi classics? Check.
You want extraterrestrial gloop monsters fighting sentient tree superheroes? Check.
You want to run in a pipe full of #$@%? Weird, but check.
You want big-@&% guns? Check and then some.
Rocket Raccoon #1 builds on both the titular character’s increased visibility in Marvel current hit title, Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as a brief (but wonderful) Infinite Comic that came out last year. Brian Michael Bendis is and was the writer for GotG and that Infinite Comic, so Skottie Young is in some ways coming in and playing in someone else’s intergalactic sandbox with this new series. Regardless, Young’s script is brash and irreverent, action-packed and intriguing from start to finish.
This book moves under Young’s kinetic plotting. We move from a princess-rescue to a wrestling match to a high-speed chase (through the aforementioned #$@% pipes) to a series of shocking twists on the cliffhanger all in the course of 20 pages. Young seems to be building two individual conflicts in Rocket Raccoon #1: first, as was established in last year’s Infinite Comic, Rocket might not be as “unique” as he once though; second, a very Scott Pilgrim-esque league of antagonists are gunning for our fluffy, murderous friend. The first conflict gets the most play in this issue, as the mystery surrounding this other Raccoon creature (who seems to be even more murderous than Rocket) eventually results Rocket framed and chased by the authorities. The second conflict, which most likely will intersect with the first, bookends this first issue. And all throughout, Skottie Young brings the humor; from Rocket’s brawling bravado while talking with Peter Quill on the phone to Rocket’s shoddy seduction techniques, Young’s grasp of the character as well as comedy writing in general is on-point throughout.
Skottie Young also pulls art duty for this series, which for many will be the main draw for this book. Young has developed a reputation as one of the best and brightest artists in the industry. His artwork—delightfully quirky, twisted, and whimsical—is immediately recognizable and has graced everything from All Ages work like the A-Babies Vs. X-Babies mini-series to the iconic Wizard of Oz adaptations. In many ways, his style and aesthetic is reminiscent of a Tim Burton visual style—iconic, specific, and fanciful; however, whereas Burton often skews dark, Young’s whimsy often appears light-hearted and playful. I say “appears” because, as Rocket Raccoon demonstrates in spades, Skottie Young can play the twisted and depraved card as well. The humor in Rocket Raccoon is bawdy and raucous, and Young deftly translates that riotous tenor into his artwork.
Jean-Francois Beaulieu’s color palette is extraordinary. Vibrant and stunning, Beaulieu’s selection of stark greens and oranges and purples adds to the twisted playfulness of Young’s lines. Beaulieu has teamed with Young in the past, primarily for the Oz adaptations, and their perfect synergy is demonstrated once again here with some of the most impressive artwork I’ve seen in comics all year.
Comic Book of the year. Guaran-#$%@-teed. Don’t miss out. Skottie Young’s Rocket Raccoon is a wonderful comic book in each and every qualifier imaginable. Hell, even the adverts are wonderful. Buy this book immediately. Buy it for yourself, and then buy another one for your friend who is sort of into comics but doesn’t know where to start. And then buy another copy for your friend who doesn’t read comics, but #$%@ it, we need to get as many people reading comics as possible!