Even before the movie Guardians of the Galaxy has come out, Rocket Raccoon is hot.
He was hot with we Marvel Cosmic readers years ago. The world is ready to catch up. Bradley Cooper will voice Rocket when the Guardians movie rolls off the reel this summer.
The character was created by Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen and consciously inspired by the Beatles song Rocky Raccoon. Other references to the song were featured in Rocket's appearance in The Incredible Hulk #271 (May 1982), which was titled "Now Somewhere In the Black Holes of Sirius Major There Lived a Young Boy Named Rocket Raccoon" and saw the Hulk help Rocket stop a villain trying to steal “Gideon’s Bible” which in the Marvel Universe was a book that contained the sum of all knowledge on the Loonies colony.
Rocket initially acted as the "Guardian of the Keystone Quadrant", an area of outer space sealed off from the rest of the cosmos by the so-called Galacian Wall. Rocket was captain of the starship Rack 'n' Ruin, and he and his first mate Wal Russ (a talking walrus) came from the planet Halfworld in the Keystone Quadrant, an abandoned colony for the mentally ill where the animal companions were genetically manipulated to grant them human level intelligence and bipedal body construction for many to become caretakers of the inmates. Rocket was Halfworld's chief law officer ("ranger") who protected the colony against various threats.
Rocket resurfaced as a member of the team chosen to accompany Star-Lord on his mission to stop a Phalanx infiltration of the Kree homeworld. Rocket is depicted as a gifted military tactician who is also fearless, loyal and insightful. It is also heavily implied that he has a case of obsessive compulsive disorder.
Rocket later joins the new Guardians of the Galaxy at the behest of his friend Star-Lord. It is he who suggests that the team adopt that moniker after hearing it mentioned by Major Victory. Later on, when the team almost disbands and Peter Quill disappears (sent into the Negative Zone by Ronan), Rocket keeps the team alive, and brings in Groot as member, as the two had become firm friends.
Rocket takes over as leader until they rescue Peter, and save the Earth from an alien invasion. When the team tries to halt the growing War of Kings, Rocket decides to lead the portion of the team assigned to make contact with the Shi’ar. However, they are unable to teleport into the Emperor Vulcan’s flagship and have to be rescued by the Starjammers and Rocket's old friend Ch’od. They are able to bring back the rightful queen of the Shi'ar, but Lilandra is killed after Rocket departs, much to his horror.
After the Guardians disband, Rocket Raccoon takes up a normal job with Timely Inc. He and Groot were reunited and tricked into returning to Halfworld: here, he found out his memories of the place were mostly half-truths and deliberately crafted fake memories. In reality, Jakes and Blackjack O'Hare had worked with Rocket in providing security at Halfworld Asylum for the Criminally Insane, Dr. Dyvyne had been Head of Psychology there, and both the anthropomorphic animals and the automaton clowns were deliberately created to work at the asylum, as their appearance would calm the inmates.
The crises that Rocket half-remembered had been caused by the psychic supervillain the Star Thief, who had been admitted as an inmate and used his psychic powers to turn the inhabitants against each other. Rocket had turned the warders into a biological "key" to keep Star-Thief locked up, and deliberately altered his mind and left Halfworld so it could never be opened -- but he was tricked into returning by the Thief, whose mind had escaped into the asylum after his host body died.
Rocket is now a member of the reformed member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, a team which includes the previous-thought dead Star-Lord and Drax the Destroyer.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” hits theatres in August!