It sounds strange, doesn’t it? A character who can only say three words – the same three words, nonetheless – featuring as the leading character of a comic series? I briefly thought about writing this entire review for Groot #1, the newest solo-adventure spin-off for a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy team, by simply repeating “I am Groot” about 400 times, but then I figured that I’d really be the only one as entertained by that as I’d think it should be, so I decided against it. Instead, here’s a real review for you!
Drawing on the success of the recent Rocket Raccoon solo series, the gun-toting extra-terrestrial critter stars alongside everyone’s favorite talking tree in this first issue – which is not only a good thing but an obvious-necessity thing, since Rocket serves as Groot’s de facto translator, being the only one in the universe who can understand him and all. As it has been for quite some time, the pairing of these two characters works extremely well as they attempt to hitchhike their way through outer space to Earth. Why are they headed to Earth? Much to Rocket’s chagrin, it’s just because Groot wants to; if there are bigger designs on the rationale, it’s not revealed to we humble readers in this issue.
This issue is spent entirely in space, as a few roadblocks and detours inevitably pop up to get in two Gaurdians’ way. Whether it’s space sharks running amok (and inevitably getting beaten up by Groot and Rocket) or an appearance by The Skrulls (the Washington Generals of the cosmos), there’s plenty for our main character to “I am Groot” about. And “I am Groot” he does, to surprising effect; while Rocket features just as heavily in this issue as Groot does, it becomes clear in the last few pages that the spotlight of the series moving forward is going to rest squarely on our Ent-like friend’s branch-y shoulders. In fact – staying as spoiler-free here as possible – it’s safe to say that Rocket won’t be side-by-side with Groot in the second issue, so how Groot communicates with other characters will be an intriguing proposition indeed.
The artwork and writing of this issue are both phenomenal work. Brian Kesinger handles the artistic side of the pages, and while he is a newcomer to the comic-book side, his background as an animator/illustrator with Walt Disney Studios is readily apparent. He does an exemplary job of giving legitimate life to an almost-mute character, with Groot’s emotions and mannerisms easily shining through on the page. Writing duties are being handled by Jeff Loveness, his first ongoing Marvel project, although you may recognize his “other” project, a long-time writer for the late-night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live! Loveness does a great job of handling the give-and-take between the multiple “I am Groots” and how Rocket answers/responds in such a way that gives the audience all the info they need without pandering too much.
While Groot #1 doesn’t necessarily reinvent the comic-book world or set the stage for a mind-blowing epic in future issues, it’s a highly-entertaining comic that features what’s possibly the character with the most heart in the entire Marvel universe. Tight writing and whimsical art helps this series stand out as a stellar entry into Marvel’s line. One does get a sense that so much didn’t happen here in the first issue because it’s coming soon – I almost equate it to that feeling of “the calm before the storm.” To me, anyhow, it just feels like something is coming – and I can’t wait to read the next issues and find out what!