By: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning (writers), Tan Eng Huat (pencils), Victor Olazaba (inks), June Chung (colors), Joe Caramanga (letters), John Denning (assistant editor) & Bill Rosemann (editor)

Rocket Raccoon/Groot by: Abnett & Lanning (writers), Timothy Green, II (art), Nathan Fairbairn (colors), Clayton Cowles (letters), Rachel Pinnelas & Denning (assistant editors) & Rosemann (editor)

The Story: Quasar, Ronan, Gladiator, Beta Ray Bill, Silver Surfer & a Spaceknight (yes…a Spaceknight) team up to keep the Universe safe.  And….we catch up with everyone’s favorite spunky sentient Raccoon.

What’s Good: The mere premise of this book is kinda “Avengers in space”.  And it isn’t some weak team of heroes either.  Abnett & Lanning (DnA) have basically gathered together the most powerful cosmic beings in the Marvel U. on the premise that the Guardians of the Galaxy were a good concept, but simply not powerful enough to stop the truly massive threats.

There is a lot of “team’s first meeting” in this issue, but the real highlight for me is that one member of the Annihilators is an honest-to-goodness Galadorian Spaceknight.  Alas, it is not our favorite silvery Spaceknight hero from the early 1980’s: ROM.  ROM is still stuck in the trademark penalty box between Marvel and Parker Brothers, but the story of the Spaceknights and their mortal enemies, the Dire Wraiths, is a good one and worth exploring in the Marvel U.  Granted, Marvel has never completely abandoned the Spaceknight concept (there was a miniseries ~2000), but it is always good to have them back.

It was also a fun to catch up with Rocket Raccoon in a truly zany tale that shows Rocky in his post-Guardians phase pushing a mail-cart through a prairie dog warren of cubicles for some faceless cosmic corporation.  Sigh…he hates his job, it’s boring, his boss is a prick and then he get’s attacked by a very strange killer clown which causes him to want to track down his old buddy, Groot.  Fun abounds.

This is also a beefy issue.  So, we’re getting 38 pages of comics for your $4.99.

The art is very solid throughout.  Huat’s designs and layouts interpret the story very effectively and I really like Olazaba’s inks.  He shows a real commitment to shading with very fine lines and it gives the comics a very throwback feel.  Green’s art in the Rocket Raccoon story is much more comical and that not only fits the silly nature of the story, but it is usually a good choice with Rocky.  It is really hard to draw a “realistic” bipedal raccoon and not have it look like a monkey.

What’s Not So Good: I was a little disappointed that the Annihilators portion of this story took so long to get cranked up.  This is only a 4-issue miniseries and with the current state of Marvel Cosmic, it could be a while before there is a follow up to this miniseries.  I bought this (in large part) because I wanted to see some Dire Wraiths and they haven’t made an appearance by the end of this issue.  They look like they are about to show up, but still… I feel kinda like a kid who was promised a trip to the ice cream stand, but whose parents had to stop for gas along the way.  And there was an awful lot of navel gazing at that first team meeting.

Although I did enjoy the Rocket Raccoon story, I still wonder why his story has to be a silly caper.  Even though the mere idea of a sentient raccoon is VERY silly, Rocky has always been portrayed as a serious hero by DnA and it feels a little sad to have the Annihilators about to save the universe when Rocky is stuck pushing a mail cart.  Even though Rocky has 1/100th the power of Silver Surfer, he’d still want to be right in the thick of things.

I’d also really love to know what the logic is behind combining these two titles into a $4.99 book.  Granted, we are getting more pages per dollar than with a typical Marvel comics, but I still wonder if that $4.99 price tag isn’t going to discourage sales.

Conclusion: Although this is a must-buy for Spaceknight fans or Marvel Cosmic fans, it isn’t without it’s problems.  This issue exists mostly on the promise of what is to come in the future issues.

Grade: C+

-Dean Stell

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