Review: Skottie Young’s Rocket Raccoon #1 — is it a ‘must have’?

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By Nicholas Eskey

ROCKET RACCOON #1

Writer, artist and cover: Skottie Young
Colorist: Jean-Francois Beaulieu

When thinking of furry-anthropomorphic characters in comics, my mind for some twisted reason can’t stray from the darker side of the comic realm. But thankfully the only thing that happens to be foul about this certain long tailed raccoon is his mouth.

Rocket Raccoon, long time member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, has recently landed himself a posh gig in his own comic series. A planned reoccurring comic featuring a fuzzy scavenger that talks and fights with weapons beyond his own claws? Don’t be one of those to write it off without a first glance. After all, it’s not like we haven’t heard of such things as bunny rabbits with samurai swords, or a duck with a cigar and a dirty mind. In this reoccurring comic bolstering his own name, Rocket Raccoon is wonderfully drawn and told by Skottie Young. There is nothing I can personally say that is lacking in this first issue to the series

Where other comics are known to get deathly serious with their manner of dialogue, Young keeps the things light and simple, without the danger of it venturing into an episode of Barney the Dinosaur. The subject matter is very adult, but at the same time easy to follow along with. You’ll be glad to know that your dictionary can stay perched on its shelf, still caked with a layer of dust.

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Skottie Young’s art style, which feels much like a polished version of a zany cartoon, matches the outlandish characters and storyline to a tee. Young manages the fine marriage of an old fashioned western (complete with pistols), and a “B movie” sci-fi outer space movie (who doesn’t love a “B movie” sci-fi flick?), with the leading man replaced by a womanizing, sailor talking woodland creature. Even the colors and shading, done by Jean-Francois Beaulieu, lends to the gritty, out of this world setting of the comic. I swear the man appears to be a master in the use of gradient in his backgrounds.
The outlandishness of the settings, the funny portrayals of both familiar and unfamiliar characters, the easy “laugh ready” dialogue, and the fitting use of colors makes this debut issue a must have in any comic lover or collector’s hoard. If this is any indication of what is to follow in the series, I hope they know that they at least have won over one eager reader. The second issue will be on sale August 6th of this year.

Nice Art: Skottie Young, Paolo Rivera cover various Marvel comics

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Marvel is always generous with artwork in their emails, some of it quite notable. Over the last 24 hours they released this nice cover by Paolo Rivera for their Marvel 75th Anniversary Celebration #1, an anthology celebrating the release of Marvel Comics #1 back in the day.

The interior of the book includes Bruce Timm adapting “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge”, a text story originally published in Captain America Comics #3 (1941), which was the first Marvel work by Stan Lee. (And yeah, stan Lee has been working in comcis since BEFORE PEARL HARBOR. Think about that for a minute.)

Other Tales:
James Robinson and Chris Samnee relived the first journey of the Fantastic Four.

Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos create a new story about upcoming Netflix star Jessica Jones investigating cases with connections to the history of the Marvel Universe/

• Tom DeFalco joins Stan Goldberg & Scott Hanna on a Peter Parker story.

• Len Wein & Paul Gulacy on Wolverine.

• Bendis and various on a series of covers devoted to the comics Marvel never published. (Now that should be INTERESTING.)

• Article, retrospectives, tributes, and other new material.

The book hits in October.

Marvel also revealed more Skottie Young variants for the upcoming Spider-Verse event, which hits in November and unites all he various spider-folk from different universes. Two Young covers will lock together transformers style into one big cover. How do they figure this stuff out?

As revealed by Marvel.com this stunning two-part cover features just a fraction of the Spider-Men and Spider-Women that will feature throughout Spider-Verse as rendered in Skottie Young’s inimitable style. Fans can get their hands on the first of these two interlocking covers when it graces the front of SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #32 this August. Blockbuster writers Dan Slott & Christos Gage join fan-favorite artist Giuseppe Camuncoli for a time travelling tale of epic proportions as the Superior Spider-Man travels to the far future of 2099! But can he stop the coming of the Spider-Verse?
                                                                                                                                                                                    
Then, hold on to your hats as the second Skottie Young variant cover adorns November’s AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #9 – the first chapter of the universe spanning Spider-Verse event! The sinister Morlun has returned with a singular and terrifying goal – exterminate every Spider-Man in every universe. And it will take thousands of spider-powered heroes to battle back the greatest threat to this universe or any other! Spider-Verse is poised to take the Marvel Universe by storm, and no fan should miss out on these two epic variant covers when they hit comic shops in August and November!


 
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The Retailer’s View: On Rocket Raccoon Orders Topping 300,000

by Brandon Schatz

When Marvel first announced the Rocket Raccoon book, I was fairly excited. Pairing the character with Skottie Young just as interest would crest for the movie seemed like a no-brainer, one that I could use to sell a few copies to interested parties. I was expecting healthy sales, but nothing that would eclipse the character’s parent title – especially given how stylized Young’s art is. What I hadn’t counted on was for Marvel to play their hand almost perfectly, netting a fairly unprecedented 300,000 copy order before the book’s final cut-off. How in the world did they swing such a huge number – especially with a relatively small amount of incentives? Let’s break things down.

art by Skottie Young

art by Skottie Young

It starts at the core: with creator Skottie Young. Over the years, Young has built himself as a brand quite handily. Choosing projects that played to his strengths, and running with the swell of goodwill garnered by his spot-on series of hilarious “baby” covers, the man went from some punk kid drawing the Human Torch Tsunami book, to an overwhelming creative force through sheer force of will and talent. Witnessing this, Marvel offered him Rocket – a book that not only fit his art style, but his story telling sensibilities – and while almost any comic can sell given the right bit of zeitgeist and marketing, there’s no comic that blows up this big without the core being so strong from the get go. Take a look at the numbers for any of the big two’s recent events. Marvel and DC (and pretty much any company) would have killed to have numbers like this for one of their events – books that they push so hard and stack so high with talent that they can’t help but move tens of thousands of copies without breaking a sweat. Rocket seemed to accomplish a lot more, using relatively less.

The numbers on this series are indicative of Marvel’s creative direction as of late. While you won’t find a shortage of people decrying their tactics or stories, there’s little you can do in the face of numerical data – and while the industry isn’t pulling in the numbers it did in it’s heyday, any upswing that’s occurring within Marvel is down to some genius marketing on their part. If we’re talking Rocket and the Guardians of the Galaxy specifically, it begins with the relaunch of Guardians a year ago on the back of the movie development, and the creative team of Brian Michael Bendis and Steve McNiven. Combining a bit of meticulously planned timing with that specific creative team (and the regular round of marketing and variant thresholds), the series launched to an estimated tune of 211,312 copies for issue one – or, if you want to nitpick, 80,344 copies for the prologue issue #0.1. To put that in a kind of context, the previous ongoing Guardians book from 2008 debuted to a paltry 36,282 copies. Why? Well, there clearly wasn’t anything wrong with the creative team – after all, they formed the basis of what would become the current phenomena – it was a matter of marketing and timing. Quesada, for all the good he did for the company, never quite understood the cosmic side of the Marvel universe (a fact that he’s admitted in several interviews over the years) and as a direct or indirect result, when good books were coming out in this realm, the marketing never gelled. The same goes for any comic shop – if your proprietor doesn’t understand the appeal of a certain title, there’s a good chance that book won’t get a big push within the walls of that store as focus tends to remain elsewhere. As a business entity, it always pays to ignore taste (to an extent) and push through the blocks set up in your mind in order to gain the largest audience for the property in question. This is a lesson Marvel has clearly learned.

Everything about the release of Rocket Raccoon makes sense. A great creator matched with a great concept, dropped not a month before he stars in a big movie. An announcement made months in advance of regular solicitations to build up pressure alongside the movie, allowing retailers to hear whispers from their customers long before orders are even available to place, culminating in a fever pitch when orders are due. And then, there’s the fact that Marvel let the numbers slip the week before retailers had to set their Final Order Cut-Off numbers, allowing lazier retailers to shake their head and wonder if they’ve ordered enough themselves. Everything about this launch was perfectly timed, and should result in solid sales – at least for Marvel. As for possible sell through, that remains to be seen. Some of this hypothetical 300,000+ print run involves incentive covers running off of qualifiers that have goosed the numbers – but considering the fact that Marvel put heavier incentives on the first issue of Guardians and still came up with a smaller number speak volumes for what they’ve put together here.

art by Paco Medina

art by Paco Medina

Now before I call it a day, there remains another facet of this marketing tale left unexplored: that of the Legendary Star Lord book from Sam Humphries and Paco Medina. In all of the hubbub for this, I you’d be hard pressed to find people talking about this book, which I think is a shame. For all the good Marvel did in marketing Rocket, they really dropped the ball on Star Lord – which is to say, the numbers are probably very healthy, but could they be as healthy as they could have been? This should have been announced the week after the Rocket Raccoon announcement. The company should have been out there pounding the pavement with preview art and concepts. I’m a big fan of the works of both Humphries and Medina, and think they are a great match for this character – one that might not be as zeitgeist grabbing as the dude responsible for years of amazing variant covers and the gorgeous art that graced the Marvel Oz books, but still, there should have been more happening. As a result of some personal hustle, I have pre-order numbers that are quite comparable to that of my Rocket Raccoon numbers. That’s down to marketing – and while I understand there will never be a time where companies like Marvel or DC will treat all properties equally, it always pains me to see a marketing opportunity lost. I want books in the hands of people who are going to enjoy them, and I can’t always do that by myself. The comic book industry needs everyone to pull their own weight the keep it running, and while a 300,000+ run of Rocket Raccoon is nice to see, it would have been great to see even a 200,000+ run of Legendary Star Lord announced as well.

That said, it isn’t over until it’s over, and who knows? Maybe in a few months time, retailers will be swimming in Rocket Raccoon #1’s while scrambling to get second prints of Legendary Star Lord. The market is a strange and wonderful place, and in the end, despite, it’s always the readers who have the final say. Hopefully, we get two very healthy ongoings out of this, as I feel both books will deserve a healthy readership. Time will tell.

[Brandon Schatz has been working behind the comic book counter for eight years. He’s spent the past four as the manager of Wizard’s Comics and Collectibles in Edmonton, Alberta. In his spare time, he writes about the comics he likes over at Comics! The Blog and stares at passive keyboards and empty word documents, making secret wishes and bargains that will surely come back to haunt him. You can find him on twitter @soupytoasterson. The opinions expressed are those of Schatz and do not necessarily reflect those of The Beat]

Kaare Andrews draws Iron Fist

 

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Taking a break from filmmaking with some comics, artist Kaare Adrews is back with some sharp looking Iron Fist pages. RON FIST: THE LIVING WEAPON #1 comes out in April. Also included variant covers by Dale Keown, Mike del Mundo and Skottie Young.
 

 

 

 

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First look at Skottie Young’s Rocket Raccoon interiors

Rocket_Raccoon_1_CoverAs announced yesterday, Skottie Young, Eisner winning artist, will be writing and drawing a ROCKET RACCOON ongoing series in July. And here’s some interior pages. Also of note: David Peterson (Mouse Guard) will be supplying a variant cover. Sold and sold.

As defenders of the cosmos go, Rocket Raccoon has faced his fair share of galactic battles. He’s been a hero to the weak, a champion of the good, a protector to the innocent, and  a heartthrob to many intergalactic species across the cosmos. But is he ready to be a raccoon on the run?!

Rocket’s high-flying life of adventure and heroism may soon be a thing of the past when he becomes framed for something he didn’t do! And the authorities aren’t the only ones hot on his TAIL! (Yeah, we went there.) “I figure that a guy like Rocket, with his attitude, has swindled his way over many planets and charmed many ladies,” says writer/artist Skottie Young. “He’s racked up a malitia of ex-girlfriends I’m dubbing the Exterminators. They’re all fed up and they’ve decided it’s time they dish out some payback on his furry little tail.”

With his pal Groot at his side, Rocket will have to blast his way out of trouble (and blast his way into some) if he wants to clear his name. Along the way he’ll tussle with some of the fiercest creatures in the known galaxy! But they’re about to bite off more than they can chew if they think they can go toe-to-paw against the shortest Guardian with the biggest gun!

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Skottie Young to draw Rocket Raccoon series

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That Rocket Raccoon exploitation we told you about is well underway, but when the exploitation takes the form of a series written and drawn by Skottie Young, it’s really really hard to complain. And note well: this is an ONGOING series, not a one-shot or mini. It’s Young’s first gig writing AND drawing for Marvel.

“Even though it was just a sliver of Rocket [in the trailer], I couldn’t wait to work on this guy even more,” Young told MTV News. “I think it’s going to have a connection to that nostalgic feeling for ‘Looney Tunes,’ that old animated flavor where everything wasn’t squeaky clean, you know? Daffy Duck would get his bill blasted off with double barrel shotguns… That’s what I grew up watching, and being able to play around with that in this hyper-superhero intergalactic universe will be a lot of fun.”

All aboard for Rocket Raccoon.

Good Work, Comics!

Is there nowhere in the world of culture which can stay positive for more than five minutes!? This week we found out that not even glam rock could provide us safety (now we’re firmly in the barren hair-straightened wastelands of the post-80s), with the news that Kiss and Aerosmith are now art war with each other. The opposing factions of all that is ROCK have apparently declared battle for no apparent reason, via a series of snide radio interviews. Sure, this all sounds like great material for the surely-inevitable IDW crossover miniseries between the two bands next year, but as things stand: Glam Rock is at war!

And it’s not like television is much safer right now. When not revealing sort-of-beloved children’s presenters to have been secretly monstrous paedophiles, television has spent the past week watching a number of prominent male politicians reveal to us the mysteries of the womb, and found it sorely lacking. Community still hasn’t returned to television, while CBS have decided to stick one in the face of anarchy by turning “Smells Like Teen Spirit” into a wacky sitcom. You can’t even have a quick tea with the Queen without having your Olympic medals stolen. Culture is in trouble again! Is anywhere safe?

Yes, friends.

Comics is Safe.

[Read more…]

Nice Art: Skottie Young’s Tumblr

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We always link to Skottie Young art whenever it hits our inbox, but you can tap right into the source right here.

Variant cover for A-Babies vs X-Babies establishes Marvel’s own "cutecore" line

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Somehow we missed the news that marvel is releasing a one shot called A-BABIES VS. X-BABIES #1 which is coming out next month. with a script by Skottie Young and art by Gurihiru. A new variant cover by Chris Eliopoulous has been released. Say what you will about this idea….this is an adorable cover.

Young himself just offered the variant cover below for MARVEL NOW! POINT ONE #1, the all new jumping on point comic for the new Now Marvel thing. [Read more…]

Let's Speculate! Marvel's Six New Mystery Titles

By ‘lurking’ Steve Morris

Seeing as they were nice enough to cite their source, I’ll say Newsarama were the scoopers on this. Diamond’s order form for October (yes, nowadays we actually go onto diamond order forms in order to find HOT GOSS) reveal six new Marvel titles will be released, each one more mysterious than the last.

But only because I’ve rearranged the order to make it that way.

Mystery Book 1! A-Babies Vs X-Babies #1

Presumably based on the Skottie Young variant cover for AvX #1, this is a one-shot book. It’s likely Young will be, at the very least, writing the title. Will baby Hepzibah appear? With baby Corsair and his baby Space Moustache.

Mystery Book 2! Ultimate Comics Iron Man #1 (of 4).

A new miniseries for the slightly more drunk version of Iron Man.

Mystery Book 3! Marvel Now Point One #1

Almost certainly something to do with Marcus Johnson/Nick Fury Beta, based on the teaser Marvel released earlier this week.

Mystery Book 4! Minimum Carnage Alpha #1

A one-shot setting up the new Minimum Carnage series, which it appears Scarlet Spider and Venom will tie-into. It’s likely that Zeb Wells will be writing this, and even more likely that the crossover storyline will end with an issue called Minimum Carnage Omega

Mystery Book 5! AvX Consequences #1 (of 5)

As there are five Wednesdays in October, there will be five issues of this ‘Requiem’ style series for AvX. Will Cyclops be dead? Will Captain America get socked in the jaw? Will someone sit moodily by their best friend’s dead body? Will Spider-Man wear black AGAIN?

Mystery Book 6! A Plus X #1

Erm. Something to do with a baby? Who knows. A + X = AX, so maybe it’s about a character who owns an axe.

Skottie Young, Adam Rex and Neil Gaiman team up, if you're interested

By Steve Morris

HarperCollins have announced today that they’ve signed Neil Gaiman for a new five-book deal, which will result in three new novels and two ‘picture-books’ straight from the pen of the man who wrote Sandman, Stardust… well you know what he’s written he’s Neil Gaiman isn’t he. Joining him for these projects will be artists Adam Rex and Skottie Young.

Also, pandas are involved.

It appears as though Rex will be drawing both of the picture-books, the first of which sees publication in January next year. Aimed at children, these two books will feature a new character created by Gaiman, called Chu. Chu is a baby panda, who has a ferocious sneeze. Are you already imagining Rex drawing Chu sneezing? Of course you are. It’s adorable. It’ll haunt your dreams tonight.

Skottie Young’s involvement comes as part of the novel side of things, as he will be providing art for a Gaiman novel called Fortunately, The Milk. Now whether this is about a talking bottle of milk whose name is Fortunately? Anybody’s guess. There’s no release date for this story as of yet, although it looks likely to be published sometime later next year.

The second of the novels will be a sequel to his 2009 book Odd and the Frost Giants, whilst the third novel remains an elusive mystery to all. If we cross our fingers, perhaps it’ll be the story of a baby panda and a bottle of milk realising that they were meant for each other.