|ROCKET RACCOON No. 5, January 2015|
There’s a genuine sense of the master handing over the baton to his pupil with Issue Five of “Rocket Raccoon”, and an uneasy sense of foreboding as well. Much of this wariness stems from a single, easily missed change to the credits which top the comic book’s title page. For instead of just ‘Young * Beaulieu’, a pairing which has produced four cracking previous editions and essentially guarantees more of the same, this issue includes the additional name Parker… and it is smack bang in the middle of the line-up where the artist usually sits.
Turning the page, something which is easily done considering the unusually poor Skottie Young cover art, it is all too clear that illustrator Jake Parker is indeed ‘in the chair’ as the penciller for “Storytailer”; albeit Young still gets a co-credit as a result of sketching three pages for the story. In fact the presence of the Inkwell Award winner permeates throughout the book’s twenty pages, and not just because the American is the writer. Parker’s artwork is uncannily similar to Young’s, so much so that when the animator takes over the reins from page three it would be all too easy to miss the transition… for a handful of panels at least. As unfortunately, despite a very brave effort, Parker fails to maintain the zany yet superbly detailed artwork of his predecessor, and quickly degenerates into drawing something more akin to that seen within a Hannah-Barbera magazine than a “Marvel Worldwide” monthly.
It is clear that the Editors were equally as sceptical about the quality of Young’s replacement, despite his style so closely resembling that of the former “New Warriors” (2006) artist. Otherwise it is doubtful that they would have ensured Young’s artwork bookends the comic so cleverly. Although the switch back from Parker, whose final panels look awfully rushed and are frankly appallingly drawn, is far from smooth and inconspicuous.
Disappointing though the majority of the artwork is, sadly the comic book’s storyline is probably even more substandard despite Young attempting something rather clever and original. Written from the perspective of the anthropomorphic raccoon’s constant companion Groot, the simple plot is based around the Guardians of the Galaxy dispatching Rocket to the ‘four corners of the universe’ in order to spring a surprise party upon him.
However as the Monarch of Planet X is the storyteller, all anyone ever says is “I am Groot.” As a result the comic is a frighteningly fast read, for without Young’s superior illustrations and acute sense for depicting screwball action, there is nothing to hold the reader’s eye as it flits from panel to panel, page after page, faster and faster, as Parker’s artwork appreciatively deteriorates.
|The variant cover art of "ROCKET RACCOON" No. 5 by Jason Latour|