Last week’s ROCKET #1 by Al Ewing and Adam Gorham was a fantastically fun read! ROCKET #1 is a fun return to Rocket Raccoon’s roots as an old flame comes to him needing his help. Uniquely, the story has hints of noir, crime and heist, and heavy metal — all while being set in space. This sets a fascinating and distinct tone and atmosphere for the issue.

There Lived a Young Boy Named Rocky Raccoon

We find Rocket on a hiatus after a huge event on Earth, taking a break from superheroics and the Guardians for some alone time in a bar in some far off sector of the galaxy – a real hive of scum and villainy. As he rambles off about being a raccoon and referencing Daredevil, both statements which bewilder the alien bartender, someone calls for Rocket from across the bar. Much to his dismay, it’s his former lover and partner in crime, Otta Spice.

“Boom. Out of nowhere.”

Otta returning to Rocket’s life is played out like a damsel in distress in a noir film. Adjacent to the panels are notes from an ominous narrator filling in the couple’s history, complete with silly similes and drawn out descriptions. Crime-wise, Rocket and Otta were like Bonnie and Clyde, going on high-risk, high-reward heists, then running off with their score for romantic getaways until the money ran out and they did it again. That was until she ratted him out, got him sent to jail, and abandoned him.

ROCKET #1
Page 8 of ROCKET #1. Courtesy of Marvel Comics.

Rocky Didn’t Like That

With Otta back, Rocket needs to face the difficult decision of whether or not to help her in her tough times. Now having a career as an intergalactic superhero, Rocket can’t turn her down. It’s not to help her; it’s to help her planet and her people. Beaverton Incorporated are blocking the rivers, harvesting energy to be sold off-world. And what kind of Guardian of the Galaxy would Rocket be if he couldn’t protect the planets which inhabited it?

READ: What did the songs in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 mean?

Thus, ROCKET #1 sees Rocket take on a mission without the Guardians. Rocket instead recruits the Technet, an obscure bounty-hunting team mostly associated with Captain Britain and the Fantastic Four. Now with Technet and Otta, Rocket must find a way to take down Beaverton and save Otta’s planet.

Rocky, You Met Your Match

Characterization wise, it’s nice to see Rocket willing to help those in need and pay a hefty price to do so by working with Otta again and having to pay the Technet members nearly a million credits each. ROCKET #1 is a great intro to the run. It builds a diverse cast of characters in a relatively short time by bringing in members of the Technet. The team is obscure enough that the creative team has freedom to do what they want, but distinct enough that readers new and old can get a feel for them.

ROCKET #1
Page 13 of ROCKET #1. Courtesy of Marvel Comics.

The humor in ROCKET #1 is also on-point with Rocket’s famous snark and one-liners. The obscenities in the issue are also covered with the hilarious expression of “flark,” rather than… well you know. While Rocket is usually accompanied by the lovable Groot, ROCKET #1 gives us Hard-Boiled Henry. Henry is a tiny, baby-talking chicken who explodes upon release from his egg. Whatever Henry lacks in size he makes up for in huge explosions both physically and temperamentally.

WATCH: Check out Weekly Comics News Show where we discuss the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY!

Aside from the humor, it’s nice to see a bit of Rocket’s deeper emotions, to see his distress at the return of Otta. We see how damaged she made him, how he still hurts from her heartbreak and betrayal. At the same time, without her, he never would have met Peter Quill or the rest of the Guardians. Rocket looks beyond just Otta and her heartbreak. He looks at the bigger picture, a development for him in his growth as a hero. With ROCKET #1 starting with Rocket drinking by himself, introspective on his regrets and his shortcomings, I think we’re in for a great character arc.

The Art of ROCKET #1

Al Ewing’s art in ROCKET #1 is incredible. It hits so many different notes and is able to nod to different styles while staying coherent and consistent! ROCKET #1 evokes to me a feeling similar to that of a children’s book. The penciling is simple but effective, with colors bright and pronounced for characters and backgrounds. Most panels are also surrounded by the distinctive subdued yellow of a manilla folder, adding to that noir aesthetic.

ROCKET #1
Page 4 of ROCKET #1, courtesy of Marvel Comics

At the same time, ROCKET #1 reminds me of 1980s rock albums, with hot pinks, cool blues, and warm yellows. Additionally, each member of the New Technet rocks hairstyles straight off of superstars from a hair-banging metal band complete with mohawks and mullets. Together, New Technet and Rocket wear matching dark gray suits with red shirts, a casual uniform fit for a heist.

Good Rocky’s Revival

The end of ROCKET #1 features a note from Al Ewing describing his inspiration for the run, wanting to mark the return of Rocket to his older ways of law-keeping, much like his original appearances in the 80s as opposed to his rebellious ways as depicted today. Ewing also draws heavily from the pulp-fiction works of Richard Stark. Eventually, it boiled down to “heists-in-space.” With the hints of noir, Ewing notes that the deadpan and omniscient narrative voice helps to make ROCKET #1 funny through playing it straight.

READ: How did Rocket’s last series start off?

Rocky Burst In, and Grinning a Grin

ROCKET #1
Page 3 of ROCKET #1. Courtesy of Marvel Comics

ROCKET #1 is a great start to what is hopefully a long run with Ewing and the rest of his creative team. With one issue down and hopefully dozens more to come, I look forward to seeing how this all brings Rocket to a world of high-stakes heists and expands on the notions of his constant prison-breaks, expertise in all things mechanic, and quick thinking. With a shocking cliffhanger, I’ll be sure to catch up with ROCKET #2 when it comes out. Stay tuned because Ewing is taking us on a wild ride through space in ROCKET #1 and beyond.

ROCKET #1 by Al Ewing and Adam Gorham
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
Going back to his roots as a heist-planner, Rocket must help his ex-flame stop an evil corporation from destroying a planet's environment. With ROCKET #1, Al Ewing gives us an engaging, humorous, and deep story for our favorite intergalactic rodent.
92 %
Noir, heist-planning. Super-raccoon.

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