My year of daily positive comic book reviews is almost up! The final ten reviews begin here! (Not top ten; the randomness continues.)
In the comics, the original Guardians of the Galaxy had an entirely different lineup from the movie cast, and the film’s characters all had separate comic book introductions. Rocket Racoon debuted in The Incredible Hulk, in an issue that’s so delightfully ridiculous.
Hulk finds himself transported to an alien world, where he’s greeted by a talking racoon and walrus. The racoon totes a laser gun, and the caption introduces him as “Rocket Racoon, guardian of the Keystone Quadrant” (still working his way up to guarding a whole galaxy).
And if his name reminds you of a certain Beatles song, that’s apparently by design. The issue title, after all, is “Now Somewhere in the Black Holes of Sirius Major There Lived a Young Boy Name of…Rocket Raccoon!” Plus, the plot entails a Gideon’s Bible, and Rocket has to save his girlfriend Lylla.
In addition to the Beatles references, we’ve got killer clowns, deadly rabbits, and Keystone Quadrant Kops. The main villain is a mole.
The issue shows how comics work wonderfully as a vehicle for unbridled imagination. Sure, this isn’t sophisticated literature, but consider it from the perspective of a kid reading it in 1982. It’s creative fuel for a young reader. In retrospect, the issue reminds us that not all comics need to grow up. Providing goofy fun for kids is always a worthy cause.
By the way, contrary to his cinematic counterpart, here Rocket self-identifies as a racoon.
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Penciler: Sal Buscema
Inker: Jim Novak
Cover: Al Milgrom
Publisher: Marvel Comics
How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology
Appropriate For: ages 8 and up