Skottie Young's Rocket Raccoon and the Self Seriousness of Superhero Comics

So you know that guy who does those amazing Marvel covers, the ones with the characters as babies?

Yea, that guy. Yesterday, MTV reported that he's going to be doing a Rocket Raccoon ongoing. Starting in July, a month before the Guardians of the Galaxy movie featuring the same character hits theaters, Young says that the book is "going to have a connection to that nostalgic feeling for 'Looney Tunes,' that old animated flavor where everything wasn't squeaky clean, you know? Daffy Duck would get his bill blasted off with double barrel shotguns... That's what I grew up watching, and being able to play around with that in this hyper-superhero intergalactic universe will be a lot of fun." Given how unexpectedly vulgar and funny the first trailer for the movie is, and given how stodgy and stiff Brian Bendis's comics can be sometimes, I think there'll be good synergy between Marvel's movie and comics divisions, something that I don't think has really happened before. For the first time, the mythical civilian who gets interested in the characters because of the movie and wanders into his LCS off of the street might be able to find a comic that has something in common with the movie besides the fact that they use the same intellectual property. 

Hopefully, that mythical civilian will actually materialize; the success of projects like this will mean other, similar projects get green lit. Humor, as a genre, is something that I don't always think gets enough play in mainstream comics. In some ways, that's a reaction to the gag format of the newspaper strips; but I also think that the Big Two, as a general rule, take themselves too seriously. Certainly, a book about a space raccoon almost out and out demands a Looney Tunes vibe, but so does a man who fights crime dressed as a bat. This is not to say that superhero comics are totally humorless; Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente's Incredible Hercules is a good recent example, as is Van Lente's Herc-lite Archer and Armstrong.  Between this, Hawkeye, the new She-Hulk book, and the sadly ended Matt Fraction/Mike Allred FF, though, Marvel might be lightning up even just a little bit more. Of course, the company is also about to kill off the Watcher, in a murder mystery comic book written by the same guy who wrote Scalped; if they're in on the joke, it sure doesn't seem like it. 

Coming Soon To A Spinner Rack Near You: Warren Ellis and Jason Howard

Trees is due out in May, from Image Comics. 

Like Something out of a Comic Book

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Wednesday's New Things: Fantastic

1. This is the second Fantastic Four reboot in as many years. That's not a good or bad thing, necessarily, but I liked the direction that Matt Fraction was moving, even though the individual plots weren't always quite coherent. It's a shame that he gave up on the First Family to focus on Inhumanity, a project that is no longer his. Here we are, anyway, with James Robinson and Leonard Robinson taking the series up; Robinson's pencils, take a peak here, don't have a line out of place, and they stake a nice spot between photorealism and stylization. He's well respected from his work on that Captain Britain series he did with Paul Cornell five or six years ago; from the preview, it doesn't seem that there's anything particularly exciting about it, but it certainly gets the job done. As to Robinson, well, Starman is one of the most fondly remembered series of the nineties. That's not a high bar, but it is really good stuff, and it holds up. He hasn't been quite as good since, but I've heard intriguing things about the Earth 2 series he was doing for DC, and my understanding is that he's been generally solid. Obviously, he'll have to do something wild to step out from Jonathan Hickman's shadow here; starting with a story called "The Fall of the Fantastic Four" is certainly one place to start. I'm always suspicious of stories that give away the conclusion in the title, but there's certainly room for something interesting in this new phase of the world's greatest comic magazine.