As a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy and one of the cosmos’ premiere guns for hire, Rocket Raccoon has both seen and survived some savage and dangerous worlds. He often enjoys his sojourns to these planets, but there is one backwater world he absolutely hates going to — Earth. It’s a planet he’s often had to visit as a member of the Guardians, but thanks to the events of “Civil War II” he and his teammates are now stranded there.
You can’t keep a good, tactical genius, anthropomorphic raccoon down though, and this December when writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Jorge Coelho kick of a new “Rocket Raccoon” ongoing series as part of Marvel NOW! that finds their character desperately looking for a way off Earth. That quest to escape will lead him down a multitude of New York’s mean streets and embroil him in an action packed tale of crime and vengeance.
CBR News spoke with Rosenberg about how the tone, scope and scale of his “Rocket” series compares to past volumes; the characters Rocket will encounter and run afoul of; and why Earth is essentially a backwater prison planet for Rocket?
CBR News: Your new “Rocket Raccoon” series finds the titular character trapped on Earth, and unlike many other pop culture stories about aliens and Earth your protagonist has a dim view of the planet. So what’s it like writing Rocket against this backdrop? When you pick up with his story in issue #1 how has his personality been effected by his surroundings? Is there anything he likes about Earth?
Matthew Rosenberg: Rocket is at his best when he is out of his element. Luckily, as a talking space raccoon, that happens a lot. But yeah, Rocket hates Earth. And why wouldn’t he really? He has travelled the galaxy and seen things none of us could understand. Earth has poverty, racism, animal cruelty, global warming, constant wars, sitcoms. You name it and we found a way to mess it up. And Rocket looks a lot like an animal most people associate and treat the same as they treat rats. So, no there isn’t really a lot for him to like here.
As for what it’s like writing him here? So much fun.
What can you tell us about Rocket’s status quo when you pick up with him? How is he making a living? Is he able to find some of the work he’s used to doing like bounty hunting or mercenary jobs? Or will his adventures be unfolding in a different manner?
Rocket is putting all his energy into getting off the planet. He isn’t interested in making a living or taking on jobs. So when we meet him he has one goal in mind, but as the story unfolds he might find a purpose to sticking around for a bit. Or he might not. He’s difficult like that.
What kinds of stories, genres, and tones, are you initially interested in exploring in “Rocket Raccoon?” How will your stories compare to the ones in Rocket’s previous solo books?
We’re going a lot darker than the Rocket you usually get in his solo books. There is a lot of pathos and tragedy built into the character; he’s a fish out of water everywhere he goes. But more than that, humans can be very cruel to people they perceive to be different. This story sort of hinges on the cruelty, both conscious and subconscious, that is everywhere in our culture. There is a bit of a detective story, some street level superhero stuff, crime thriller elements and a revenge story all rolled up in here.
There are still plenty of laughs because it’s a hyper violent talking space raccoon, but it should feel a bit more like the Rocket we meet in books like “Annihilation” or Abnett and Lanning’s “Guardians.” More like a tiny, furry, hard-drinking, sarcastic Punisher story.
Rocket’s past solo stories frequently partnered him with his buddy Groot. Will that happen here as well? Who are some of the other supporting players you’ll be bouncing Rocket off of?
Rocket definitely crosses paths with some familiar friendly and not so friendly faces in New York City. How could he not? But it’s less of a team-up book and more of a “get outta his way” book. Readers will have to read it and see who makes an appearance, but there are definitely some great cameos throughout.
Where is Rocket when you kick things off in issue #1?
When the series starts Rocket is looking for food in midtown Manhattan. From there we’re sending him all over the city. From hole in the wall bars in the South Bronx to the Staten Island Ferry, Rocket will be taking in the (very low to the ground) street level view of New York. And the city, and the way it treats him, are a big part of the series. Rocket has saved the planet and galaxy a couple dozen times, but to most New Yorkers they are more concerned whether or not he has rabies. That will be a big thing for him to have to learn to deal with. Or not.
What can you tells us about the antagonists Rocket will run afoul of in your initial issues? Do you have plans for any established Marvel characters? What about new creations?
There is a group that Rocket will run into and it will become about as nasty as these things can get. Further down the line we will show who is behind the group, and I can’t say a lot, but I will say it is one of my favorite Marvel characters of all time. The fights are going to be really epic. That’s all I can say.
Your collaborator on “Rocket Raccoon” is Jorge Coelho, who recently did some fantastic work on the Disney Kingdoms Marvel series, “Haunted Mansion.” What do you enjoy most about Jorge’s style? What made him the right artist for this book?
I have been in love with Jorge’s work since I first saw it a few years ago. If you aren’t familiar with his stuff you should run out and buy all of it right now. I was so happy when he agreed to do the book because I knew he could do exactly what we need. He is a great storyteller without sacrificing style or that “cool” factor. His characters are so detailed and expressive and just good to look at. The first time Jorge sent in his Rocket sketches I was blown away. A lot of amazing artists have drawn Rocket in the past, but his is my all-time favorite. It actually makes me feel bad for all the awful stuff we are going to do to the little dude.
Finally, can you leave us with some hints or teases about some of your long term plans for “Rocket?” Any chance the Earth setting will lead to some fun team ups we don’t often see with characters like say, the Punisher, who you seemed to really enjoy writing in “Civil War II: Kingpin” #3?
I would love to do a Rocket-Punisher team up so much. But for now my long term plans for Rocket are to try and get him off the planet and back into space, where he can finally settle down and have a more peaceful existence. But my plans don’t always work out the way I want them too. So expect a lot more bad situations that only get worse and a lot more of Rocket dealing with that angrily and poorly.
I really hope people give this book a chance. It’s got gritty street level hero stuff for fans of Spider-Man and Punisher, it’s got fun elements of books like “Squirrel Girl” or “Deadpool,” all while staying true to the best member of the Guardians. It’s weird, fun, messed up, and it’s gorgeous. And if people don’t read it I’ll have to kill Rocket. And I really don’t want to have to kill the little guy.
“Rocket Raccoon” #1 is scheduled for release December 28 from Marvel Comics.