My Year of Comics: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Your Favorite Galactic Tourists

We are all our own graveyards, I believe; we squat amongst the tombs of the people we were. If we’re healthy, every day is a celebration, a Day of the Dead, in which we give thanks for the lives that we lived, and if we are neurotic we brood and mourn and wish that the past was still present. -Clive Barker

Under discussion: Rocket Raccoon and Groot: The Complete Collection trade paperback including Tales to Astonish #13, Incredible Hulk #271, Rocket Raccoon #1-4, and content from Marvel Preview #7, Annihilators #1-4, Annihilators: Earthfall #1-4

If Guardians of the Galaxy: Tomorrow’s Avengers Vol. 1 is an example of how far Marvel’s house style can be pushed and torqued, and if Guardians of the Galaxy: Tomorrow’s Avengers Vol. 2 illustrates the limits of that house style when it comes to capturing the strangeness of weirdo cosmic adventures, then Rocket Raccoon and Groot: The Complete Collection show you the treasure you can find when you absolutely abandon the house style and see what else is possible.

The Rocket Raccoon series had a much more cartoon-y feel. Panels from #3 are pictured here, art by Mike Mignola.

It’s hard to imagine any trade paperback collecting stories around any other Marvel character(s) that could encompass so many different comic styles. There is the hokey-plot-and-arresting-visuals of the classic Stan-and-Jack Groot monster story from Tales to Astonish #13; there’s the inks-only comic magazine style in Marvel Preview #7, Rocket Raccoon’s first appearance (here he’s known only as “Rocky”); there’s the lost-in-a-funny-animal-story from Incredible Hulk #271; there’s the all-rules-are-off funny-animals-meet-psychedelia of Rocket Raccoon #1-4, pencilled by Mike Mignola, whose art and imagery here is can’t-miss weirdo perfection; and the satire-in-space style of the Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning-penned Rocket and Groot stories from Annihilators #1-4 and Annihilators: Earthfall #1-4.

A few brief plot synopses:

  • The tree monster Groot attacks a town and is driven off by–you guessed it!–Cold War superscience termites. (Tales to Astonish #13)
  • Rocket Raccoon is introduced in the second installment of a space opera plot starring an orphaned space prince starring in a story patterned on the Odyssey. (Marvel Preview #7)
  • Rocket Racoon, part of a race of genetically engineered animals who have been evolved to serve the insane inhabitants of a planet-sized asylum named half-world, contends with black ops bunnies and mobster moles in his quest to get some quality time with his otter girlfriend and, maybe, to cure the loonies and escape Half-World for good. (Rocket Raccoon #1-4)
  • Rocket and Groot take a menace-filled tour of various cosmic locations including Groot’s homeworld Planet X and Rocket’s home world of Half-World as part of a cross-galaxy case of ancient revenge, cosmic possession, mistaken identity, and mail-room shenanigans. (The self-aware stolen office scanner steals the show. (Annihilators #1-4)
  • Rocket and Groot vs. Mojo. Nuff said. (Annihilators: Earthfall #1-4)
One more from Mignola’s gloriously weird Rocket Raccoon series (this from #4).

It’s not really reasonable to say that there’s any one feeling that a reader can be left with at the end of reading all of these highly disparate stories. The stories build on each other, sort of. Our Groot returns to Planet X in Annihilators; Rocket gets called “Rocky” by his friends, and gets to return to Half-World. But continuity is mostly abandoned for the sake of letting whatever weirdos are in charge of that story, that issue, that series tell the stories that they want to tell, slipping through high fantasy and cosmic melodrama and absurdist violence and meta-satire. There’s more whimsy and bite in these stories than most mainstream comics are allowed to have, and just for they, they’re worth the read.

And while none of it makes much sense, it is all a lot of fun. Which makes you remember that that’s why you first started picking comics up in the first place.

 

Feature image CC Photo Cindy