With the Guardians of the Galaxy ‘grounded’ and all the superstar guardians getting spin-off solo books, everyone’s favorite not-a-raccoon, Rocket, was destined to get the funniest, most off-kilter book of the lot.
Rocket Raccoon, written by Matthew Rosenberg, more or less fits that criteria. It isn’t the best thing I’ve been reading – the Gamora solo book is much more to my liking (review here) – but this book manages to meet the entertainment standards, mostly on the strength of its star.
You can’t really get bored in a Rocket Raccoon story, and this one is as off-kilter, sharp and witty as you’d expect.
Jorge Coelho’s style of illustration is a little off-balance and sketchy, but that happens to suit the whole Rocket vibe very well.
By contrast, the current Starlord title also has a very stylised, off-balance type of illustration, but in that instance it doesn’t really suit the character and so it ends up undermining the book.
Which just demonstrates that the same style rules don’t fit all content. For a Rocket Raccoon title, the slightly askew imagery fits the character’s off-color nature and his particular way of seeing things.
Rocket Raccoon #1 also gives us guest appearances from Johnny Storm and Lockjaw, which fits in pretty nicely. In all, this book was always on to a winner, since you can’t go too wrong with following a grouchy, frustrated, earth-hating Rocket Raccoon wandering New York and trying to get to grips with earth life.
Rocket Raccoon #3 is a particularly fun chapter, with Rocket going head to head with Kraven the Hunter. It’s generally all played lighthearted and for kicks, which works fine with this character and this book. Rocket’s attitude, and his general frustration with Earth, is what sells this whole story.
Kraven isn’t presented as a serious or menacing villain here, and that suits this book fine too (his “I am monologing” – when someone asks him who he’s talking to – is a great line).
Rocket Racoon #4 is a straight up Rocket vs Kraven battle of wits and muscle, with half of New York City caught in the crossfire. Again, it’s simple, honest, non-cerebral fun, pitting two very off-kilter characters against each other, all of it enlivened by witty repartee. Rocket accidentally bringing down the Statue of Liberty is a suitably off-kilter moment that suits this title to the ground.
Also, the running gag of having multiple random characters mistake him for another type of animal is very funny: I counted bunny, hedgehog, fox, dog, and about half a dozen others just in these few issues.
Rocket Raccoon #5 wraps the whole thing up with no real crescendo, but basically staying on the same quality level as the whole series.
Which isn’t a particularly high quality level; but it’s just fun and easy. What we do get here – which qualifies as a relatively meaningful point of development to finish on – is Rocket actually performing a heroic, somewhat selfless act for the sake of others. It’s done in a laconic, unceremonious Rocket way, of course – but it’s still a relatively selfless act of Good Guy-ism.
The Rocket vs Kraven business is wrapped up here, and we also get a cameo from Johnny Storm and some Inhumans.
The series ends as it started – neither bang nor whimper, but an enjoyable, off-beat, low-key vibe – as befitting an enjoyable, off-beat, low-key character.
This series is definitely worth the ride if you’re a Rocket or Guardians fan in particular; for anyone else, it’s just a light diversion.
At the end here, I found myself longing for the Guardians to properly re-assemble in a new title already. I liked this Rocket series, and I particularly enjoyed the Gamora series; but I disliked the Starlord title quite a bit, and I’m left thinking these characters are better off all being together in one team and one book. That’s where the magic is.