To make a living as an intergalactic hero and mercenary in the Marvel Universe you need a cunning mind, skill with a blaster, and some very good friends to watch your back. The brash anthropomorphic gun for hire known as Rocket Raccoon doesn't have many friends, but as readers of "Guardians of the Galaxy" and viewers of the blockbuster Marvel Studios film adaptation know, he possesses some very powerful allies in the form of his teammates, especially his best friend, the massive tree-like alien known as Groot. In recent months the duo have played pivotal roles in each other's solo series, but this January they'll come together for a new ongoing All-New, All-Different Marvel series that sees them sharing the title and the spotlight.
That book is "Rocket Raccoon and Groot" by writer Skottie Young, continuing his tenure from Rocket's solo series, and "Siege" artist Filipe Andrade, and their upcoming buddy sci-fi adventure series will chronicle the crazy and often comical adventures its titular characters are known for. CBR News spoke with Young about the book, how its tone and stories will be similar to Young's recently completed "Rocket Raccoon" series and working with Andrade, who illustrated "Rocket Raccoon" #7-8 and a story in "All-New, All-Different Marvel Point One" #1 for Young. The writer also offers up key details about his initial tale that finds Rocket in the role of tyrannical, galactic overlord eight months after "Secret Wars" and explains why fans of his Marvel work should run, not walk, to check out his first creator-owned book, Image Comics' "I Hate Fairyland."
CBR News: Groot played a role in several issues of your "Rocket Raccoon" run, but with this new series -- "Rocket Raccoon and Groot" -- his name is now in the title right alongside Rocket's. What does that say about his role in the new series and how he and his diminutive pal will be sharing the limelight.
Skottie Young: I think the first time around they had pretty equal footing. I treated it like that at least. I didn't have them separated too often. I think there was maybe an issue or two where Rocket wasn't with Groot, but it didn't happen often. So the only real difference this time is they'll pretty much be together all the time.
Other than that it was just that I thought Groot ended up being such a big part of the previous book why don't we throw his name in the title this time around? I'm going to be writing those two as a team anyway.
Are you interested in perhaps exploring more of Groot's background or personality?
Yeah, as the stories evolve I definitely see maybe going down some of those paths, but it's sort of the same thing we did with Rocket in our first run. If it comes up I'll explore it, but I try not to get too wrapped up in a lot of Marvel history. Because these are characters where there's a lot of different versions of their past. [Laughs]
I touched on a little bit of that with Rocket in our first run and it was like, "This is kind of a mess" and I ended up even playing around with that as a story trope. So Groot definitely will have a much bigger role when it comes to that, but I'm doing a fun, buddy, space adventure book. So that's maybe as about as deep as it will go.
So while the the character dynamics won't be shifting, can we expect anything different in terms of the strange adventures that often happen in Marvel's intergalactic underbelly?
It's really going to have a very similar flavor to the first run. There will be a lot of shorter tales. We'll have done-in-ones, two-shots and maybe three-issue story arcs. We're really going to just explore these pockets of space and let these characters have a good time.
In the beginning you're going to see Rocket as kind of an evil space overlord. There will be a mystery as to why that is, but again, things will be very similar to the first time around. Brian Bendis, Sam Humphries and all the other writers and artists that tackle Marvel's cosmic books do great jobs with their characters. So they'll tell these big crazy stories and then over in "Rocket Raccoon and Groot" we'll have these guys hopping around, having some fun, and having their little buddy adventures. I think between all of us we've got all the bases covered.
You mentioned things kick off with Rocket in the mysterious role of space overlord. Is this you having a fun riff on the eight months later setup of the All-New, All-Different Marvel books?
A little bit, yeah. When I started thinking about what I would do with Rocket and Groot eight months later I wanted to really jump in, and I thought how funny would it be to have Rocket be a Darth Vader-style figure? [Laughs] In this eight-month gap he went from being a Guardian of the Galaxy to an evil space overlord.
Basically it's "what are the funniest and most bombastic things we can do?" And that's what we're trying.
In the last book you were very interested in exploring new areas of the cosmos and new alien races. Will that continue with this new volume?
Yes! I think that's the beauty of this book. It takes place out in space so we can draw anything we want and I think Filipe Andrade is so incredibly talented and creative that you have to give him a bunch of stuff to draw.
That's what I love about these cosmic books; the imagination never quits.
Felipe did two issues of your "Rocket Raccoon" series. So how does it feel to reunite with him for this series? His Marvel work also includes "Captain Marvel," "Figment," and now the "Secret Wars" series "Siege." It really seems like he can draw anything.
Yeah, he's amazing. Filipe and Jake Parker, who also draws some of our first arc, were the only two names I threw out at the beginning to take over when I stopped drawing the book. Luckily they both agreed and jumped on. Jake went off to do some children's books and other things in the publishing world and Filipe was keen to jump on and continue working with me. So I couldn't be more excited! He's so so talented that he makes me look a lot better than I am at writing. [Laughs]
Rocket and Groot's fellow Guardians of the Galaxy made occasional appearances in the first volume of this series. Will that continue with this new book? Are there any other established Marvel characters readers can expect to be along for the ride?
For sure. I had my editor Jake Thomas give me a list of some cool, crazy villains that might not be in use that we could really have some fun with. And right in the first pages of the first issue you're going to see the Guardians of the Galaxy in a little emotional moment.
Again, like the first time around we're going to play around with anything we can get our hands on. It's nice because we can really play around with anybody and bring anybody into the story via a wormhole or some sort of broken time phenomenon. [Laughs] There's endless possibilities to the fun and excuses that we could come up with to play with characters.
It seems like over in "Howard the Duck" writer Chip Zdarsky has been establishing a fun relationship between Howard and Rocket. Will that figure into your run?
Yeah, I might just have to bring Howard into the book at some point. Maybe I'll just put Chip in the book. [Laughs]
I'm excited to get into this book and have fun again writing these characters. I love the nature of writing these shorter stories; the one-shots, two-shots and things like that. Because I feel like whatever I'm inspired by at that time I'm writing the script is what finds its way into the story.â€¨These two characters are perfect for those kinds of stories because they're quick. They're fast, and they're big personalities. So they really make a good canvas for wildly inspired stories on the fly without getting too mired in long six- to eight-issue plans. I'm really excited to tell those kinds of stories again, and I'm really excited to work with Filipe and for everybody to see what he's got in store for them.
Finally, "Rocket Raccoon and Groot" isn't the only place for readers to go for fun, warped, stories by you. This month they can also check out the debut issue of your new Image series, "I Hate Fairyland." What do you want fans of your work who may not be aware of the series to know about it?
"I Hate Fairyland" is my first creator-owned book. It comes out October 14. If you like the imaginative art style that I put into the "Oz" books, but you're also a fan of the Looney Toons-esque violence that we do in "Rocket," but even more so, [Laughs] then you should check this out.
Basically it's me taking "Tank Girl," "Lobo," "Groo," "Scud," and all of the comics I loved growing up and shoving them into the body of "Alice in Wonderland." We're telling some crazy tales of a little girl who gets stuck in Fairyland, is there for 30 years, and the kind of maddening world that becomes. So I'm having an absolute blast with the series and I really hope that people jump on to it and have fun with the ride.
"Rocket Raccoon and Groot" #1 debuts this January from Marvel Comics. "I Hate Fairyland" goes on sale October 14 from Image Comics.