Writer Skottie Young and artist Jake Parker open "Rocket Raccoon" #9 with red skies and a leaping Hulk in New York City of the year 2046. Hulk leaps into action against Groot, who is on a rampage through the city and makes fast work of the Emerald Avenger. In the issue, Iron Man and Captain America watch over a decimated future with alarming destruction. Iron Man, in this case, is back in red and gold and answers to Tony while Cap, now outfitted with a cybernetic leg, answers to Steve.
Using those icons as the fulcrum for the story, Young swings the tale from Earth to outer space as the Avengers call upon Rocket Raccoon to talk Groot down. In space, readers are introduced to a foul-mouthed Rocket, who has been through a few more scraps in the time between 2015 and 2046. In addition to Rocket's temper, Young brings along some humor, both in art and dialogue, making "Rocket Raccoon" #9 a solid representation of his contributions to this series despite the futuristic setting.
The art from Jake Parker is playful and lively, similar in style to Young's but more youthful and exuberant. Every character, from grizzled old Rocket to howling, kaiju Groot, brings a range of expression that feeds from the story and powers the narrative forward. Parker's work, especially the silent or near-silent panels, illustrates Young's confidence in his artistic collaborator. Parker and letterer Jeff Eckleberry blend together nicely. Parker undoubtedly draws some of the sound effects in, but the collaboration between the two is subtle enough to meld together without notable transition.
Like the bold, unrestrained future in Parker's drawings, Jean-Francois Beaulieu's colors make no apologies. The red skies mentioned earlier would make Crayola proud, while the yellows, reds, blues, greens and purples do a nice job of rounding out the visuals of "Rocket Raccoon" #9. Beaulieu doesn't have to overdo any gradients or add in too many effects, as the cartoony, over-the-top nature of a space raccoon trying to rescue the Earth from a rampaging tree is bizarre enough to hold its own with bright, honest coloring.
While some characters don't set out to be heroes but become heroes nonetheless, Groot's quest to be a hero puts Rocket on a path to forge his own heroic legacy. Along the way, Young, Parker, Beaulieu and Eckleberry have fun celebrating every wacky thing about comics in one of the most consistently irreverent books on the racks today. It's not an all-ages title, but "Rocket Raccoon" #9 is certain to remind readers of the joy comic books can deliver at any age.