Rocket Raccoon has made a name for himself in recent years both as a breakout film character and as the star of his own solo series. Now, writer Matthew Rosenberg joins forces with artist Jorge Coelho on a new volume of Rocket Raccoon that has the irascible varmint stranded on Earth – and contending with Earthlings.
Newsarama spoke to Rosenberg ahead of Rocket Raccoon #3’s release on February 22 to find out just how bad Rocket’s time on Earth could be for the diminutive anti-hero. Along the way, Rosenberg revealed his top team-up choice for Rocket (Hint: it includes lots of big guns) and what kind of music makes it onto the soundtrack for Rocket Raccoon
And yes, it includes Taylor Swift.
This article also contains previously unseen pages from Rocket Raccoon #3.
Newsarama: Matthew, from what we’ve seen so far in Rocket Raccoon, Rocket’s not exactly fitting in on Earth now that the Guardians of the Galaxy are “grounded.” How did Rocket come to be stranded on Earth?
Matthew Rosenberg: The Guardians came down as a favor to Captain Marvel to help out during Civil War II and their ship was blown up, This is why you don't do favors for people, kids! After that, tensions in the group hit a breaking point and they all went their separate ways. Rocket is at a real disadvantage on Earth because he isn't very human-ish and he doesn't have a lot of patience for morons, which we have a lot of here. So now he is in New York trying to find a way off, but it's not as easy as it seems. He doesn't have a lot of friends here or know his way around too well, so getting a ship is a bit tough. It's odd how few strangers want to lend their space craft to belligerent space raccoons.
Nrama: What’s your take on Rocket as a hero? Even in this issue, he does things that could be considered “heroic,” but it’s not necessarily out of a sense of altruism.
Rosenberg: Rocket is a different kind of hero. He's a hero by accident. He gets into a lot of situations where saving himself might actually help others too. Somewhere, deep in there, there is a conscience. He'd never admit it, but it's true. So he is a hero 50% by luck, 50% by conscience he is embarrassed by. He's like the furry Han Solo. But meaner.
Nrama: Without Groot or the Guardians around, who will Rocket being hanging out with in this series? Will Johnny Storm or Ra’chaun be sticking around?
Rosenberg: Ra'chaun and Johnny will pop back up for sure, but Rocket's really going to be on his own a lot. He needs time to reflect and think about the world and the universe and his place in it. It's hard to get those quiet, introspective moments on a ship full of idiots, so this is a great opportunity for him to be alone with his thoughts. Rocket believes that we find emotional growth in those quiet moments where we can truly confront ourselves. And this time on Earth will be a good opportunity for him to explore meditation, maybe some yoga – a real chance at a spiritual awakening.
Also everyone on Earth is really annoying and the only reason to talk to them is if they can help you get off the planet.
Nrama: Who’s the guy we saw at the end of Rocket Raccoon #1? Is this guy a hint at a larger mission for Rocket on Earth?
Rosenberg: His name is Dave. He is part of something called the Alien Kill Krew. It's sort of a variation on the Skrull Kill Krew, but less concerned with saving the planet or anything like that, and more into hunting aliens for sport. Dave is awful. And yeah, that's going to be a driving force of what happens to Rocket over the next bunch of issues.
Nrama: We know upcoming issues will have Rocket squaring off with Kraven the Hunter. Are there any other villains or even heroes you’d like to see him cross paths with?
Rosenberg: Who wouldn't I like to see Rocket cross paths with? Any character Rocket hangs out with just makes that character better. I'd love to see Rocket and Old Man Logan go out drinking. Rocket and Black Widow seems like a natural alliance to me. I'd love to see Rocket and Cap discuss ideas of patriotism and sacrifice. Obviously Rocket and the Punisher is a dream team-up. Rocket and Moon Knight could be really interesting. Ghost Rider would be great if we could Rocket a sidecar. And D-Man seems like a really good fit.
For villains, I don't think there is anyone who could really go up against Rocket for too long. He's just too good. But I would love to see Kingpin and Rocket interact. Maybe that's just because I spend a lot of time thinking about Kingpin, but I think watching them try and use each other, try to understand each other better, that seems awesome to me.
Nrama: Jorge Coelho brings a real cartoonish kineticism to his art on Rocket Raccoon, along with a surprising amount of grit. What are you most excited to see him draw in upcoming issues?
Rosenberg: Jorge is amazing. I hope folks who wouldn't normally check out a Rocket book or my work are giving this series a chance for Jorge. Like you said, he is so versatile. We go from slapstick comedy to brutal fights and back again and it's just seamless. Jorge, I'm sorry for his sake, handles those big shots that are just full of detail so well. From the Times Square shot in the opening to this epic splash page in issue #3, I just want to study those pages forever. So I keep writing them and making him draw them. That's high on my list of what gets me excited about this book. But really, it's his Rocket. I've loved Jorge's stuff for a while, but when he came on board and sent us some Rocket character studies? I was blown away. He gets so much character into the little guy. He makes Rocket just feel real. It's so fun to watch.
Nrama: Given how important music is to the public success of the Guardians of the Galaxy, what would you put on your soundtrack for Rocket Raccoon?
Rosenberg: Well the music stuff is more tied to Star-Lord I think. But there is no way Rocket is into all that 80's pop music. Rocket would want a soundtrack you could get in fights, steal spaceships, and shoot people to. It would have to be loud and nasty. I'd say we'd need some big fast stuff - Motorhead, Converge, Slayer, early Metallica, maybe Botch. We'd need some real thrashy stuff too - Dropdead, Punch, Angel Hair, Infest. Stuff like that. We'd probably need some animal rights bands - Earth Crisis, Raid. Some in your face punk stuff - Bikini Kill, Bad Brains, Pissed Jeans. And then we'd need some stuff where annoying human singers don't get in the way too much - Russian Circles, Mogwai, Pelican, This Will Destroy You. And Taylor Swift.
Nrama: What is the hardest part of writing a story about an alien trapped on Earth?
Rosenberg: Having to confront the fact that I am also trapped on Earth.
Nrama: What can readers expect from Rocket Raccoon as the series rolls on? What haven’t we seen yet that you can tease us on?
Rosenberg: Well if they are hoping for more fighting, more snarky comments, more examples of why Earth is dumb, more destruction, more accidental heroics, and more space raccoons using public transportation... I think they'll be pleased. And really, if that is what they want and our book isn't doing it to them I am really curious what is.