Sunday, March 8, 2015

Rocket Raccoon Trade: A Chasing Tale (hardcover collection of "Rocket Racoon" issues 1-6)

With the release of this summer's feature film, Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel has done a better job than usual of capitalizing on the potential product tie-in for the movie.  Sure, at the time of the movie's release a few things hit the shelf that were the typical "well, this is perfunctory" new material by C or Z-list talent, but they also got name talent on a few ongoing, sustainable projects.

Of these, the one I had the most natural interest in was the Skottie Young helmed Rocket Raccoon ongoing.

I won't rehash my interest in Rocket, because it's well documented, but I hadn't been all that excited by most of the recent Rocket material that spent an extraordinary amount of time trying to make the bonkers mini-series that defined Rocket for a couple of decades a dream sequence or something.  Much like our New 52 Superman, Rocket had to be made gritty if Marvel was to have him running around in their comics.  Frankly, the results were kind of soul crushing for us who read the original mini back in the day, and they just weren't very good.  I read most of the new stuff in this collection, which also contains the original material, so it's probably worth picking up sometime, but the new stuff just feels completely off and almost hostile to the source material in a way I don't really get.

Just own your characters and move on, Marvel.

The new series just feels a whole lot better.  It's frankly, not entirely what I was expecting, which was a bit more all-ages and less "let's make 20-somethings feel like they're still getting 'edgy' when they buy Marvel!"  But, once you get over that, the issues contained in this newest volume are a pretty fun read.  It's just not necessarily an all-ages read, which a lot of parents might think at first glance.

As with a lot of Marvel solo books, the team affiliation is still very much a part of the character, but the solo aspect allows for a bit more genre bending and less of the standard "we're a team on a deadly/ deadly-serious mission" aspect that can occur when team books become plot heavy.

The characterization of Rocket is familiar to readers of Guardians of the Galaxy or certainly if you saw the movie of the same name.  Writer/ artist Skottie Young continues that thread of loveable-but-kind-of-horrible smart guy on the make that always has the ring of forgiveable compensation for the hand Rocket's been dealt.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that the art is in the mode of cartooning Marvel fans have become familiar with from the brush of Skottie Young, a style I'm particularly fond of and which allows for a wide range of character designs to blend seamlessly into the interplanetary adventures as they move along at a frenetic clip.  And, of all the artists to take on Rocket of late, Young's post-Bill Watterson approach at least makes Rocket identifiable as a raccoon and not some sort of terrier or muskrat.  And he certainly isn't limited in his concept of alien life forms - one of the plagues of many-a-comics artist with a deadline.

There's a plot thread introduced that will likely become the undercurrent of the series, mentioned in both the movie and in the prior comics - and that's Rocket believing he's the last of his kind, but having only vague memories of his origin (basically, the four issues of the 1980's limited series).  That is until another raccoon shows up, but I don't want to spoil it.

Marvel needs to do themselves a favor and learn from the dissatisfying Wolverine-origin reveal.  Don't drag this out and stop with the multiple possible origins.  It's never as good as you think it's going to be when you do make the reveal.  Just tie it up.

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