Right out of the gates, I must admit something: Last month, I was thoroughly disappointed in Guardians of the Galaxy #7. It was an issue that was supposed to start an all-new tale "The Death of Rocket Raccoon." Surprisingly enough, there was very little Rocket Raccoon in that issue. Little in the sense he didn't appear until the final splash page. Now that Guardians of the Galaxy #8 has hit shelves one thing is for certain—I'm a damn fool for doubting this series.
When it comes to this issue, I read it once and sat on it for half a minute before turning around and reading it a second time, and then a third. For every critique I had about the beginning of the arc one month ago, the creative team has a response; they have a fix. After several reads, I think I'm comfortable enough to say #8 is the best issue of this already-strong Guardians of the Galaxy run so far.
The lovable furball takes center stage from the very first page in one of the best scenes this year. We see Rocket suffering and even though he says everything is fine, we know that's not the case. He tells us he'll be alright, but see otherwise. There's one particular sequence in the first handful of pages that pull just the right heartstrings to form the perfect teary-eyed storm. Rocket looks into a mirror and reassures himself everything's going to be alright, yet we see him crumpling into a ball on the floor.
That's when I realized Rocket Raccoon is one of the most relatable characters in the entire Marvel library. Even when considering the thousands of humans within the ever-growing stable, this bipedal raccoon is more relatable than Peter Parker or Carol Danvers. Why? Nobody likes being vulnerable. Nobody likes being sick or asking for help. Time and time again the vast majority of us put on a face and walk out the door when we have something bottled up eating us from the inside out.
And, damn it, Donny Cates and Cory Smith portray that beautifully right from the start. One scene between Rocket and Moondragon is as beautiful as it is heartbreaking, as thoughtful as it is solemn. The thing with Rocket is he never wanted to be here. He had no say in his creation and his existence remains an anomaly. It's unnatural... but here is he is, guarding the galaxy from all kinds of intergalactic threats just because he happened across this band of misfits.
When it comes to storylines involving Rocket, it doesn't get much better than this. The themes run deep throughout, touching on anything from loneliness to vulnerability and beyond. Rocket's time in this issue alone might do more for his character than the past decade combined—and I'm trying not to exaggerate. This book hits the nail on the head and it hits hard, making it one of the best reads you'll skim through this week.
After some misfires in other recent runs of Guardians of the Galaxy, Cates, Smith, and, formerly, Geoff Shaw have returned this title to the heights which inspired the film franchise and, if I were a betting man, there wouldn't be a better cinematic tale for adaptation than what's happening with Rocket Raccoon right now. If you're a Guardians or Rocket fan, or if you have even the slightest Grinch-sized heart, you need to read Guardians of the Galaxy #8.
Published by Marvel Comics
On August 21, 2019
Written by Donny Cates
Art by Cory Smith
Colors by David Curiel
Letters by Cory Petit
Cover by Mike Henderson and Dean White