Created in the late sixties by Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen, Rocket Raccoon was loosely based on a Beatles song (‘Rocky Raccoon’, naturally).
He first bounded into the pages of Incredible Hulk #271 , where – alongside his buddy Wal Rus – he teamed up with Banner against evil mole Judson Jakes. Though Wal Rus faded into obscurity, Rocket’s gung-ho ‘tude meant he stuck around, and has been one of Marvel’s most popular characters ever since.
We particularly like his retro bubble space helmet...
Before he made a cameo in an issue of Sensational She-Hulk (where he was briefly turned to stone), Rocket had his own four-issue mini-series in which we learned more about his origins.
Apparently he was a genetic experiment installed to guard the mentally ill. Which is all well and good, but the story’s real genius bit comes when Rocket takes on a gaggle of terrifying space clowns. Yes, SPACE CLOWNS.
Rocket becomes an unexpected TV star in one of his standalone comic adventures with Groot, which includes a scene that’s a clear nod to Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.
Rocket and Groot are in a grungy space bar where they’re attacked by a group of Badoon. Rocket comes up with a clever escape plan by shooting holes in beer barrels that creates a stampede of thirsty patrons. Now that’s thinking with your head…
In February 2012, Rocket Raccoon had become to popular that he was introduced to videogame Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3.
If you’re looking for a hint of what Rocket should look like in action in Marvel’s Guardians movie, look no further than the below video, which shows off the character’s flexibility and dexterity with really big guns…
Rocket’s an alien who looks like one of Earth’s most ferocious little fighters, and the Guardians comics often find ingenious ways to remind us that though Rocket looks cute and furry, he’s actually a merciless mercenary.
Take Guardians #3 , in which he interrogates a Badoon captain aboard the Badoon ship, only for the captain to declare that he’d rather die than give up any information. Without so much as blinking, Rocket kills the captain, then takes out the ship’s helmsmen. Badass.
Rocket’s appeared in animated form in The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (sporting a somewhat strange Ray Winstone accent), but he’s arguably coolest in Ultimate Spider-Man.
Voiced by Billy West, he crops up in a season two episode (alongside his fellow Guardians) and becomes a mentor to Sam Alexander, which involves a fun Empire Strikes Back pastiche…
Think Iron Man’s the quippiest character in the Marvel universe? Think again. Rocket Raccoon has his fair share of bitchin’ one-liners, too, which we’re sure will translate to the big screen.
Want examples? Rocket: “We need a battle cry!” Star-Lord: “No, we don’t.”
Or: “Blam! Murdered you!”
Or: “Never doubt a raccoon.”
We could go on…
In the comics, Rocket becomes a temporary leader of the Guardians when the Star-Lord disappears, and it’s Rocket who introduces tree-alien Groot to the team. Their friendship is one of comics’ most interesting – and moving.
“They are the R2-D2 and C3-P0 of the Marvel Universe,” says writer Brian Michael Bendis. “I know that for people that don’t know who the Guardians are, Rocket Raccoon is like this thing that people go, ‘Is that, like, a real thing?’ My wife saw the promo images and she goes, what is that, is that a raccoon?
“Rocket Raccoon, for those who don’t know, is not an Earth Raccoon. He’s just an alien that happens to look just like a raccoon.”
In the rebooted Guardians Of The Galaxy comics, Iron Man joins the Guardians. Mostly because he’s just too awesome to be kept on Earth, which is good for Rocket, who unexpectedly bonds with Mr Stark.
There’s a particularly brilliant moment in Guardians #5 where Rocket helps Tony fix his armour – with a little help from some potent space booze. Their banter (courtesy writer Brian Michael Bendis) is spot on, and their easy-going friendship is a real boon to the comic series.
Just another reason we want to see an Avengers vs Guardians movie down the line…
Lucky Comic-Con attendees were given an early first-look at Rocket Raccoon earlier this year. During the Guardians Of The Galaxy panel, a teaser trailer aired introducing the Guardians, and chief among them was Raccoon.
Coming out blazing, he was jaw-snappingly awesome brandishing a machine gun, furry face contorted in a fang-lined snarl. He looked every bit the savage animal/space warrior we were hoping for. Consider expectations considerably raised…
What's your favourite Rocket Raccoon moment? Tell us below...