Skottie Young and colorist Jean-Francois Beaulieu’s “Rocket Raccoon” #1 is an absolute delight of a first issue. Stunning frenetic visuals, sharp humor, and the beginnings of a solid story all combine for the beginning of a wonderfully fun series.
There could not be a more perfect creative team for a book like “Rocket Raccoon” than Skottie Young and Jean-Francois Beaulieu. Skottie Young’s kinetic style is a perfect fit for a character like Rocket Raccoon and for the funny, energetic, action-based tone of the book, which ties quite directly to the forthcoming movie. A book so clearly designed to appeal to the broader “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie audience could have easily felt like a grotesque cash grab marketing ploy, but by bringing on an A-list creator like Young and allowing him to craft a quality story it instead becomes a great comic book that happens to have a potentially huge readership thanks to a film that’s also coming out. By putting story and quality first, this book stands on its own as absolutely excellent.
Young’s visuals are impressive without a doubt. They’re vibrant and engaging; full of detail and yet never overworked. You can always find fun Easter eggs in his work, but he never loses sight of the important things like strong character work and solid storytelling. Rocket (and everyone else in the book) simply bursts from the pages, vibrant and emotional, their expressions vivid and perfectly on point. At the same time, even the bit players — like two guards sadly not long for this world in the opening pages — are brilliantly designed and hilarious. It’s a book that, like most of Young’s work, leaves no stone unturned in its quest for magnificence.
Beaulieu, longtime colorist for Young, knows how to best highlight Young’s work, keeping things just this side of restrained when it comes to color for the most part and then cutting absolutely loose when necessary. A stadium wrestling match is wonderfully lit and simply pulsing with life — neon glows, crowds dip into almost monochromatic shadow, and golden spotlights gleam. The whole thing has a radiance that’s nearly hypnotic.
While Young’s stunning visuals are no surprise, Young’s deft writing of a much more adult title is. Young has been focusing on kid-friendly work for a long time now (and YA comics are certainly better for it) but it is great to have him working on a more adult book, especially since he’s so very good at it. Young totally embraces Rocket’s decidedly rude personality and it’s particularly fun to see that more explicit personality contrasted with Young’s highly cartoonish visuals. Young has the beginnings of a good story here with solid well-established stakes, strong character introductions, and lots of action, but it’s Young’s fun and funny script that sings the loudest. It’s a legitimately funny book, which is a too rare thing for this medium we affectionately call “funny books.”
All in all, Skottie Young’s “Rocket Raccoon” #1 is a nearly perfect book in concept and execution. Young and Beaulieu have delivered a gorgeous funny issue.