ROCKET RACCOON #1
Written by Matthew Rosenberg
Art by Jorge Coelho, Antonio Fabela, Jeff Eckleberry
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: December 28, 2016
“This planet sucks,” is the first line of dialog in Rocket Raccoon #1 and from there, writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Jorge Coelho give readers a story that seems like it is not as Rocket Raccoon-centric as it could be.
Taken at face value, Rocket Raccoon #1 is a fun read with quirky art and a fairly lighthearted story of a character trapped in a world he didn’t make, but it really doesn’t get much deeper than that. Rosenberg spends less than no time reflecting on where Rocket Raccoon came from and only a little bit of time on how he came to be stuck in New York City, choosing instead to focus on Rocket elbowing his way through.
True, this isn’t the off-target “Blam! Murdered you!” Rocket that Brian Michael Bendis has sculpted. It’s not the feature film Rocket Raccoon as voiced by Bradley Cooper. It’s only barely the Rocket Raccoon from the Guardians of the Galaxy, as Rocket appears to be suffering from the Marvel Comics line-wide “intermittent continuity amnesia” as he doesn’t recall meeting Lockjaw (Guardians Team-Up #5 and possibly during Realm of Kings?) and just seems like a placeholder character that could be swapped out for any other anthropomorphic character. That said, Rosenberg’s take on Rocket is closer to the original miniseries by Bill Mantlo: he’s abrasive and blunt. That sprinkles some humor into Rocket Raccoon #1, but doesn’t provide much for readers to latch onto.
Coelho’s art is edgy and rough, with lots of crosshatching and angular shapes. Parts of Rocket Raccoon #1 reveal Walter Simonson influences, Jeff Lemire-like structure, and some Erik Larsen-like drawings even sneak in, but overall Coelho gives readers a visual experience that strays from anything resembling a “house style”. Antonio Fabela’s colors are gritty, but saturated, like the city itself, with some effects and styles that don’t necessarily flow with Coelho’s linework. Somehow, though, the color stylings merge nicely with the line work, making Rocket Raccoon #1 a unique experience in the Marvel catalog.
As part of the “Grounded” storyline, Rocket Raccoon #1 sets up a solid introduction to the fan favorite character, albeit in a new setting with yet-to-be-defined circumstances beyond Rocket simply wanting to leave Earth. Rosenberg and Coelho appear to be building a slow burn with this tale, so readers are going to have to bring some patience with them for this first issue. There’s plenty to like, but it might take you and Rocket a little while to get accustomed to one another.
The Verdict: 7.5/10