Review by Frank Plowright
After the continuity re-jig of Secret Wars the Guardians of the Galaxy believe Rocket Raccoon and Groot to be dead, so just who are the pair seen in the opening chapter, the foul-mouthed space pirate resembling a talking rat on two legs and the big green guy who keeps repeating “Me are Shrub”?
Whoever they are, they end up in front of a tyrant who looks awfully familiar, hell, almost like a raccoon in a cloak, and who’s that big tree-looking guy? Groot has a story to tell and the way Skottie Young delivers this is surprisingly inventive, and requires an adaptable artist to keep up. This is Filipe Andrade (sample spread). He’s the nearest the collection comes to someone matching Young’s own illustrative style, loose, flexible and busy, although busy is default for the book’s cartooning. Aaron Conley’s insanely detailed art is in the service of a dungeons and dragons fantasy, with an interesting twist that leads into a nutty football game. Jay Fosgitt’s style is more animation-related. He doesn’t quite hit the cute button, but isn’t far from it on some pages, while Brett Bean’s pages resemble the 1990s cartoon show Animaniacs.
Young seems to be pitching the book at the young adult market with scripts that tone down the psychotic elements of Rocket Raccoon’s character for PG rated violence with the emphasis on the madcap and slapstick. At times it might be the Marx Brothers in space, but like the Marx Brothers there’s a density of gags and lack of plot that can become wearing.
The cartooning is brilliant and colourful, but Tricks of the Trade is a book to look at rather than read. It’s all change for the next collection, Civil War II.