This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on January 22, 2015.
Rocket Raccoon #7 is the start of “The Cold”, the newest story arc in Skottie Young’s series about the irascible varmint and his arboresque best friend, Groot. The pair find themselves stranded on an icy planet with few prospects for survival at the beginning of the issue and things only get worse from there. Groot is soon placed into serious trouble and it is up to Rocket to discover a way to save the life of his best friend before it’s too late.
The most significant change in Rocket Raccoon #7 isn’t in the status of either of these characters, but in the tone of the comic itself. It is the first issue not illustrated by Skottie Young. Filipe Andrade is drawing “The Cold” and applies a style every bit as recognizable and unique as Young’s. That change in style is one that both captures the momentum of the series and differentiates this story as something apart from what has come before.
Andrade’s line work is much sharper and unforgiving. While he is comfortable exaggerating the ludicrous characters and creatures that populate this series, his cartooning is more reserved than the wild displays seen in previous issues. He captures the amusing and animate nature of the story, but removes the soft edges. Rocket is much less curvy (and as a result, less cuddly); his posture fits that of a soldier more than an animal. Andrade’s designs for snow monsters are fearsome. They have massive hunched backs, small limbs, and devilish horns. There’s an edge and anger to the creatures that maintains them as a threatening presence though. When they snap and claw at Rocket and Groot, Andrade maintains the element of risk with sharp, fast motion.
Jean-Francois Beaulieu continues to color the series and makes the transition between Young and Andrade’s styles seamlessly. He maintains a consistent palette with Rocket and Groot of soft browns and neon oranges, forming connective tissue within the series. The world around the pair is vastly different though. Beaulieu makes use of various shades of blue accented by whites and blacks to construct a world with no hint of warmth. Every moment spent in the icy tundra is chill-inducing.
Young, working only as a writer here, shows that the first six issues did not ride on the strength of his art alone. The jokes and narrative tone work just as well when set side-by-side with Andrade’s work as his own. Yet the most effective element of Young’s script is not the humor, but the pathos Young injects.
Rocket Raccoon #7 is all about Rocket’s selfishness and one-sided friendship with Groot. It is established early in the issue with Rocket using one of Groot’s arms for firewood. It’s a comical scenario, but also makes the dynamics of this friendship clear. As a result, when Groot is rendered unable to help and Rocket must do the impossible to help him, it matters. Rocket’s reaction to his friends injury and subsequent choices reflect an aspect of his character beyond the big guns and quick wits. It’s a simple setup, but an effective and endearing one that makes it possible to empathize with the foul-mouthed raccoon.
The transfer of art duties from Young to Andrade here isn’t a reason to consider jumping ship, but a call to stick around. Rocket Raccoon maintains all of its humor and antics, while shifting the tone of the series to something more appropriate for the icy conditions and challenges that lie ahead. Rocket Raccoon #7 is another great looking installment in one of the most fun series hitting the stands.