|ROCKET RACCOON No. 4, December 2014|
Issue 4 of “Rocket Raccoon” surely comes with some of the strangest variant covers “Marvel Worldwide Incorporated” has ever published. For none of them encapsulate the raw energy of the concluding action to Skottie Young’s “A Chasing Tale” and only one of the three illustrations actually portrays the title character. Indeed if you didn’t know what you were looking for then the Hasbro variant cover by Alex Kropinak, complete with action figure photographs, would have you firmly believing you held an issue of “Captain America” in your hands. Whilst the retailer incentive Deadpool 75th Anniversary cover by Kalman Andrasofszky, which depicts a wonderful homage to “Tales To Astonish” issue 13, would easily fool you into thinking that Groot was the star of the show; something particularly difficult to achieve considering that the Monarch of Planet X is blown to pieces on page three.
However, having read the first quarter of this edition, anyone purchasing the ‘Stomp Out Bullying’ variant by Pascal Campion, which shows an uninspiring illustration of Rocket and Groot chatting over lunch in a school canteen, will probably think they’ve picked the cover most representative of the comic book’s contents – as its easily the wordiest and talkiest I’ve seen writer and artist Skottie Young be. Obviously there had to be some build-up for the big reveal as to who was behind Rocket’s framing for murder, but six pages worth… and then it turns out to be “… just a rabbit.”
Fortunately the inclusion of Blackjack O’Hare, first seen in issue 271 (1982) of “Incredible Hulk”, really sparks this comic back to life as laser beams fizz, fists crack and the fur really flies. Throw in the mightily miffed Amalya, and a horde of Rocket’s other ex-girlfriends, and it is panel after panel of endless fisticuffs. All of which are zanily illustrated by Young and his unique and cartoony drawings. Indeed this has to be one of the best ‘punch-ups’ seen in a comic book, with combatants exchanging everything from double-punches and ear-jabs to ‘lite’ pokes as they literally beat one another unconscious.
Surprisingly though this fun story does end with a real sting in its tail, and one that swiftly wiped the smile from my face as I guffawed at the sheer comical carnage taking place. There’s a genuine sensitive side to the wise-cracking raccoon not often seen and Young’s portrayal of a sad lonely tearful Rocket, upset at the fact that it now appears certain he is the only one of his kind is a poignant conclusion. At least until the very last few panels that is…
Numerous variant covers to "ROCKET RACCOON" Issue 4 by Pascal Campion, Kalman Andrasofszky and Alex Kropinak