As Vin Diesel teases a standalone film for the characters, here’s what they’ve done outside the team in comic books.
If Vin Diesel is to be believed, Marvel Studios and James Gunn might be looking to spin out two of the most popular Guardians of the Galaxy characters into their own movie, but what kind of adventure would Rocket Raccoon and Groot have together, separated from the more humanoid members of the team? A peek through their comic book history suggests that the answer is, “A very strange one.”
Diesel, in a recent chat with Screen Junkies, said that “if it’s up to [Guardians director] James Gunn, you’re going to see a Groot/Rocket movie. After [Avengers: Infinity War], it’s highly possible.” While that may just be wishful thinking on behalf of the Fast & Furious star, it’s not entirely outside the realm of possibility — Marvel launched a Rocket Raccoon & Groot comic book series a year ago as part of its All-New All-Different linewide relaunch, suggesting that there are definitely some at Marvel who see the potential of such a cute pairing as a headline act.
That said, the type of comic book story that the characters tend to appear in when left to their own devices might not necessarily be the most mainstream of fare. From Beatles references to the meaning of friendship, there’s something about these two that brings out the weird in creators. Want proof? Here’s what you might have missed from their solo(ish) storylines:
Rocket Raccoon Vol. 1 (1985)
The plot of this first solo outing for Rocket was as far out as it gets. It’s set on the world known as Halfworld, where animals act like people and Beatles references abound (Another character is Wal Rus, and the Macguffin for the story is “Gideon’s Bible”). The story sees Rocket, the cop of the Keystone Quadrant of space, having to deal with literal killer clowns. The 1980s were a hell of a time, apparently.
On a break from the Guardians, Rocket’s new career as mailroom attendant of Timely Inc. — the original name of Marvel Entertainment — is interrupted by a would-be assassin dressed as a clown, who happens to be made entirely of wood. Investigating, it turns out that both Rocket and Groot have become embroiled in a plan by a forgotten villain called “Star-Thief” to escape captivity and take over the entire universe. Of course.
Annihilators: Earthfall (2011/2012)
A series of seemingly disconnected, nonsensical adventures leads Rocket and Groot to the realization that they’re trapped in a virtual reality simulation of their own lives, created by X-Men villain Mojo in an attempt to create exciting viewing for the entertainment-starved denizens of the morality-free Mojoverse. Suffice to say, things don’t go Mojo’s way once the heroes realize what’s going on.
Rocket Raccoon Vol. 2 (2014/2015)
More on-model than previous solo stories, this 11-issue series — which co-starred Groot from the start, despite the title — followed Rocket’s life outside of the Guardians, from dealing with the immense debt his life of adventuring had created to investigating his origins and history on Halfworld. The series ends, perhaps fittingly enough, with Rocket arrested by intergalactic authorities but already planning a jailbreak with the assistance of Groot … just as he is in the first Guardians movie.
After plans for a road trip together are derailed by a bounty hunter out to kidnap Rocket, Groot has to rescue his best friend if their vacation is to go ahead. It says a lot about the focus of the story that the final issue of the series is literally just following the two of them around on Earth as part of their time off after the adventure is over. (Well, with a helping of Groot’s secret origin, which is exceptionally charming.)
Rocket Raccoon & Groot (2015/2016)
Finally given equal billing, the most recent Rocket/Groot outing was more of the same as seen in the 2014-2015 series — Rocket and Groot as a comedy pairing, with the latter being the responsible friend who has to keep his more passionate little pal out of trouble, as difficult as that is when he’s dedicated to making the most out of life — even if it means becoming a criminal mastermind. Also on show: Space Vikings who want to fight for beach supremacy, and bounty-hunting on Earth in competition with other well-known Marvel characters!