WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Avengers: No Road Home #9 by Jim Zub, Mark Waid, Al Ewing, Paco Medina, Jesus Arbutov, Joshua James Shaw and VC's Joe Sabino, on sale now.
Rocket Raccoon has long been one of Marvel's more intriguing heroes. The crazy little critter has been a staple of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and his penchant for explosions makes him one of the publisher's most enjoyable characters. But, at the end of day, Rocket is a genetically enhanced creature with a knack for heavy machinery and serious firepower. But in Avengers: No Road Home #9, he finally gets his due with his biggest power upgrade ever.
This series has seen Rocket, disenchanted with his Guardians teammates following Infinity Wars, throwing in with an Avengers squad consisting of Spectrum, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Hercules, Hawkeye, a bitter Hulk, Voyager and, last but not least, Conan the Barbarian. And, as usual, his snarky comments and sass add a lot to the dynamic as the team tries to stop the Greek goddess Nyx from enshrouding the world with darkness.
Their adventures lead them to Euphoria, a mysterious planet whose avatar tries to bargain with everyone by offering them what they want most. While Nyx seeks vengeance after the Avengers killed her children, and the other heroes crave that big moment where they truly do something good, Rocket simply wants to get life right. It's clear he feels like a failure, and seeing the Guardians disband time and again has finally taken a toll. But when a fight breaks out against Nyx, as expected, Rocket decides he's had enough and, using some Pym Particles stolen from Clint Barton, he powers up to become a giant-size raccoon.
Rocket deems himself "large and in charge," even impressing Hulk, who's thoroughly enjoying Rocket's demeanor throughout the ordeal. It also fits Rocket's modus operandi as a thief (something the Marvel Cinematic Universe cleverly worked in when he threatened to steal Bucky's arm) and addresses how he overcompensates with big weapons. But in this case, the instrument of mass destruction isn't a blaster, it's himself -- and he goes rampaging toward Nyx, who's already mentally fragile after her children's deaths.
She ends up acquiring the final shard of her soul, however, and Rocket's moment of glory is short-lived. We're not sure whether the Pym Particles ran out of juice, or if Nyx depowered him, but it's enjoyable to see Rocket kicking butt like this. He's always been treated as the runt of the litter, given his tragic background as a lab experiment by the Stranger, but we've wanted to see more for the hero. Rocket has a lot of heart, as seen with his relationship with Groot, and should be given agency beyond that of a gunman.
Then again, it's that David-versus-Goliath feeling when villains look at somewhat-cute little creature that makes them underestimate him, and ultimately, that plays to Rocket's strengths. With the seemingly inexorable march of new technology in the Marvel Universe, hopefully he will acquire some more toys that will allow this kind of power boost on an emergency basis, because Giant Rocket is just too much fun to ignore.
Avengers: No Road Home #10 goes on sale Wednesday.