Sunday, September 14, 2014
I Reads You Review: ROCKET RACCOON #1 (1985)
MARVEL COMICS – @Marvel
WRITER: Bill Mantlo
PENCILS: Mike Mignola
INKS: Al Gordon
COLORS: Christie Scheele
LETTERS: Ken Bruzenak
EDITOR: Carl Potts
EiC: Jim Shooter
32pp, Color, .75¢ (May 1985)
Rocket Raccoon created by Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen
Rocket Raccoon is an outer-space based Marvel Comics superhero. He was created by writer Bill Mantlo and artist Keith Giffen and first appeared in Marvel Preview #7 (cover dated: Summer 1976). The character was initially known as “Rocky Raccoon,” and it was later revealed that “Rocky” was short for “Rocket.” Rocket Raccoon is an intelligent, anthropomorphic raccoon and is an expert marksman and master tactician.
Apparently, fondly remembered by fans, the character made very few appearances in comic books during the first three decades of his existence. In 2008, Rocket Raccoon appeared in the relaunch of the superhero comic book, Guardians of the Galaxy. Rocket is a prominent member of the Guardians of the Galaxy team, and is now a breakout star thanks to the 2014 live-action film, Guardians of the Galaxy. In the film, Rocket is a CGI character and his voice is provided by Oscar-nominated actor, Bradley Cooper.
I was a fan of the 1985, four-issue, Rocket Raccoon comic book miniseries, written by Bill Mantlo, drawn by Mike Mignola and Al Gordon, colored Christie Scheele, and lettered by Ken Bruzenak. I am not sure if I had heard of the character before the miniseries. I think one reason I wanted to read it was because the creative team, especially Bill Mantlo (who co-created the character) and then-emerging artist, Mike Mignola.
Rocket Raccoon #1 is a humorous comic book set in a walled-off section of space known as the “Keystone Quadrant.” The story opens in Spacewheel, a toy manufacturer that is a division of Dyvynicies, Inc., owned by Lord Dyvyne. We meet the Chief Toysmith, who is soon killed a murderous clown. The blame falls on Dyvyne's rival, Judson Jakes, who oversees Mayhem Mekaniks, a toy-making corporation.
The story then moves to Halfworld, where we meet Rocket Raccoon, Llyla (Rocket's lady, who is an otter), and Wal-An (a walrus). Rocket's main concern is making sure that there is a steady flow of toys for the humans of Cuckoo's Nest. Now, it seems as if Dyvyne and Jakes are about to go to war, but they want more than just control of the toys. Rocket and his friends are also targeted.
I lost my original copies of the Rocket Raccoon miniseries, but I managed to replace them about a decade ago during a sale at Mile High Comics. I got them for next-to-nothing; in the wake of the hit Guardians of the Galaxy movie, I think it might cost at least $100 or more to buy a complete set.
I remember liking this miniseries when I first read it, but I wonder if I really understood it. Decades of reading comic books later, I think I have a better grasp of it. This is a humor comic book that is a bit satirical, and the first issue has some pop culture references, especially regarding the Oscar-winning film, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (which was based on on Ken Kesey's 1962 novel of the same name).
In a way, Rocket Raccoon the miniseries is similar to crime fiction, as it features Rocket as a kind of cop who has to stop a war between two mob bosses before they destroy the city. The difference is that this comic book features anthropomorphism and juvenile science fiction and space opera elements. I don't know if I'd recommend it to anyone but fans of Rocket Raccoon. This miniseries is such an odd-duck that it is hard to figure out what the target audience for it is. I guess that back in the mid-1980s, Marvel's target for Rocket Raccoon was the “Marvel zombies,” readers who bought practically everything that Marvel Comics published.
Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux
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