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Superhero Origins: Rocket Raccoon

VO: Dan Paradis
Written by Michael Wynands He might be small and furry, but don’t you dare try to pet him. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we will explore the comic book origin of Guardian of the Galaxy member and best friend to Groot, Rocket Raccoon. Have an idea you want to see made into a WatchMojo video? Check out our suggest page at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest and submit your idea.
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He might be small and furry, but I wouldn’t pet him if I were you. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we will explore the comic book origin of Guardian of the Galaxy member and best friend to Groot, Rocket Raccoon.

As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginings and different versions to a character’s past. We have chosen primarily to follow the storyline which unfolded in 1982’s “Incredible Hulk” #271, which was later expanded upon in 1985’s four issue miniseries “Rocket Raccoon.”

Though he’s risen to prominence since joining Star-Lord and the Guardians of the Galaxy in 2007, this spacefaring anthropomorphic raccoon spent most of his time on the sidelines during the first few decades of his existence. Finally being given the spotlight he so rightly deserves in the 21st Century, this spunky bandit has proven himself to be a master tactician, ace pilot, technological wizard, fearsome martial artist and marksman second to few in the Galaxy.

Rocket Raccoon technically made his debut in 1976, as a supporting character in "The Sword in the Star! Stave 2: Witchworld!" - a narrative with a lengthy title that was featured in Marvel Preview #7. As was often the case with plotlines from this black-and-white publication however, the story ultimately went unfinished. Simply referred to as “Rocky,” he did bear a striking resemblance to our beloved gun-toting Rocket, but this fleeting appearance did little to establish the character, and therefore, he is treated by many as more of a proto-Rocket than a proper “first appearance”.

It would be another six years before Rocket was given another shot, but when it finally happened in 1982 in the pages of “Incredible Hulk” #271, it was a proper debut. When the gamma-irradiated giant lands on the odd planet known as “Halfworld,” he is discovered by none other than Rocket the Racoon - who is introduced as the Guardian of the Keystone Quadrant but still referred to as “Rocky” by his friends - and his first mate with the ridiculously on the nose name: “Wal Russ”. After Hulk saves them from a massive Robomower, the anthropomorphic creatures bring Hulk back to their spaceship, where they feed him and request his help in saving the sentient animals of Halfworld from the evil mole Judson Jakes, who seeks “Gideon’s Bible,” a tome containing the secret origins of Halfworld.

It’s a classically over the top 80s tale that doesn’t shy away from absurdity, but it did lay the groundwork for Rocket Raccoon’s 1985 miniseries, in which the secrets of Gideon’s Bible, and Rocket’s own backstory, would finally be revealed. Bear with us though, because this is the Marvel Cosmic Universe we’re talking about, which is rarely simple, straightforward, or easy to follow.

Long ago, an unspecified humanoid race settled Halfworld in order to establish an Asylum where they would treat the mentally insane. They then departed the world, leaving the patients in the care of automatons, also known as “Robot Stewards”. As with any good sci-fi tale however, these automatons inevitably developed a sense of independence, and, seeking greater purpose, they bestowed sentience upon the animal population of the planet, transferring responsibility of the asylum patients on to them so that the automaton population could pursue their own goals, undisturbed on the other side of the planet.

And so, the planet earned the name Halfworld, because one half of the planet was transformed into a utilitarian, technological land, stripped bare of its natural elements, while the other half was left a lush green space, a paradise for the cybernetically enhanced animals and their patients, who are known simply as “the loonies”. Thankfully, in the course of learning the contents of Gideon’s Bible, Rocket was able to cure the aforementioned loonies of their condition, and with their help, bring an end to the conflict on Halfworld. With that, he and his fellow sentient beings left the planet to explore the stars.

Sadly, despite ending his miniseries on a high note, Rocket only made a handful of appearances over the next twenty years.

It wasn’t until 2007’s “Annihilation: Conquest” storyline that Rocket Raccoon returned to comics in any major way, but boy did he ever come back with a vengeance. After meeting Peter Quill in a Kree prison, Rocket helped Star-Lord and company defeat the Phalanx, before going on to join the Guardians of the Galaxy. And the rest, as they say, is Galactic history.
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