It has been three years since James Gunn brought the Guardians Of The Galaxy into the #MCU. The second installment following the intergalactic misfits premiering worldwide on May 5th (and it is great). #BradleyCooper's #RocketRaccoon and #VinDiesel's #Groot were easily standout elements of the film and today I will do a run down the history behind everyone's favorite trigger-happy trash panda.
How He Came To Be
Some time in 1976, Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen probably sat somewhere listening to The Beatles' "Rocky Raccoon" (above) and decided to create a character based on the song (the character would, of course, be a talking raccoon). This inspiration is not only shown by the character's name, but also the subtitle of his first appearance (top right). "Now somewhere in the black holes of Sirius Major there lived a young boy name of Rocket Raccoon" very closely mirrors the opening lines of the song: "Now somewhere in the black hills of Dakota lived a young boy named Rocky Raccoon."
Rocket Raccoon first appeared in Marvel Preview #7 (now selling for upwards of $1300 on eBay) in 1976, but this was a very different iteration of the famous raccoon than what we now see in Marvel Comics and the #MCU today. For starters, Rocket was British (presumably because of The Beatles connection). The comic was also set in an alternate universe 10,000 years after today's Marvel continuity. This was the only appearance of the character before he joined the #Marvel continuity you see today. His next appearance was in The Incredible Hulk #271 in 1982, introducing him to today's Marvel continuity and started the Toy Wars (strange, I know, but more on that later).
A Crazy Comic Origin
To explain Rocket Raccoon's origin, we have to go back to the creation of Halfworld, a planet created by a humanoid race to house those driven insane by a contagious virus. These people were nicknamed the Loonies and intelligent animals were created by the humanoid scientists to entertain and look after them while the scientists were away. Among these enhanced animals were: Rocket Raccoon (who took the role of Chief of Security and Chief Law Officer) and Wal Rus (yet another Beatles reference).
A four-part miniseries starts off Rocket's solo career and is greatly influenced by The Beatles' "Rocky Raccoon." In this miniseries, he fights the killer clowns (below) that plague Halfworld and attempts to rescue Lylla (his girlfriend, who also happen to be an otter) from being kidnapped by Blackjack O'Hare. Lylla was the heir to a large toy company that is the driving force of Halfworld's economic system and is, of course, saved by Rocket before the end of the series.
Rocket also plays a part in the finding of "Gideon's Bible" (this Bible was left by the scientists that created Halfworld and explains everything, including how the enhanced animals were created). This Gideon's Bible was given to Rocket by Uncle Pyko and revealed an insanity-healing helmet that grants the wearer clarity. Rocket then leaves to explore the galaxy in a giant robot following an Incredible Hulk story arc involving the Toy Wars.
When Rocket left Halfworld, he created a locking system that prevented anyone else from entering or exiting the planet's atmosphere. This lock meant that all of the cybernetic creatures would have to be present in order for someone or something to arrive at or leave the planet. He then had his memory wiped, thereby making it impossible for the barrier to ever be unlocked.
His ongoing story from this point is a little varied, but the basic idea is that he somehow lands in prison, where he then meets Groot. At first, the two do not get along, but they quickly warm up to each other as Rocket begins to understand Groot's cryptic language. The two break out of prison but are quickly caught again, this time by the Kree.
They are then broken out of this prison by Peter Quill and placed in a special forces team fighting for the Kree. This team's main objective is to destroy the race of aliens called the Phalanxt hat were trying to destroy the Kree. The team succeeds and the duo are granted freedom by the Kree in return. Rocket uses this freedom to form a team with Groot and Peter Quill (a.k.a. Star Lord), calling them the Guardians of the Galaxy.
How Different Is His MCU Origin?
We are not told much about Rocket's backstory in Guardians of the Galaxy, but we get to know enough from Rocket's comments like, "You don't know what it is like to be torn apart over and over again" and, "Ain't no thing like me 'cept me." This lets us know that his MCU origin is not dissimilar and that Rocket truly is alone in this galaxy. Purely judging by the above panel, Rocket's backstory is not to different in the MCU and it still involves Lylla, Halfworld and cybernetic enhancement.
1. When Peter Quill seemingly "died" fighting Thanos, Rocket temporarily got a job in the mail room at a company called Timely Inc. (a reference to when Marvel was called Timely Comics).
2. When the venom symbiote was being protected in a safe environment by the Guardians, it escaped and infested in both Rocket and Groot.
3. Rocket, soon after the Civil War II timeline, blows up Statue of Liberty. In doing so, he sends America into anarchy! Though, the second part only happened in an obscure alternate universe story arc.
4. The many voices of Rocket Raccoon include Greg Ellis in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Billy West in Marvel's Ultimate Spider-Man, Seth Green in Marvel's Avengers Assemble, Steve Blum and Nolan North in Marvel Heroes, and finally, Bradley Cooper in Guardians Of The Galaxy.
I hope you liked this post. Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below!