Figure out where in the galaxy this Guardian has gone with writer Christopher Hastings!
Groot the living tree—a tiny baby tree at the moment—has become lost in space. In the first arc of the new I AM GROOT series from writer Christopher Hastings and artist Flaviano, the Flora Colossus finds himself separated from his team and trapped on a strange and menacing planet where no one can understand a word he says.
I AM GROOT is the story of our diminutive hero finding his way home from a brave new world, and learning about himself in the process. We tapped Hastings for more…
Marvel.com: So tell us a little about this planet our tiny hero has been trapped on in I AM GROOT? What or who stands in the way of Groot getting home?
Christopher Hastings: [In] issue #2, we see that the planet is very strange. It’s old, its original culture and society forgotten. The people that live there now carry hints to what life used to be like, but they’re so far removed, they don’t know why. Groot has to discover the planet’s old ways, and how seemingly unconnected events, landmarks, and people all play together in order to unlock the way home.
The main force trying to stop Groot is a man we only know as The Administrator, someone who very much does not want Groot upsetting the order of the planet in order to leave this dimension and get back to the Guardians. He’s aided by an army of shape shifting service robots [who travel via] connected underground tunnels—so they can pop up anywhere [at any time].
Marvel.com: Groot is kind of like a planet himself, made of grass and rocks and wood. If Groot is a planet, is he trapped on a sort of macrocosm of himself?
Christopher Hastings: Macrocosm is an apt word! The story of the planet scales up from and runs parallel to Groot’s own journey right now, as someone who is trapped at a small size, unable to fulfill his purpose and grow.
I definitely agree that Groot has traditionally represented the duality of nature. It is life giving—or nurturing—but can flip and be total power, stronger and fiercer than any human. I think that makes Groot appealing, putting a face on nature.
Marvel.com: Usually Groot is selfless, giving help and support—literally and figuratively—to his friends. But now that he’s alone, what does this story mean for him and his growth as a character?
Christopher Hastings: I think the story of Groot’s literal growth is being handled in the main [ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY] book. But this arc in I AM GROOT is more about emotional growth, adjusting Groot’s mindset for that eventual return to adulthood. [It’s] a “child stuck in a strange and scary land” kind of space fairy tale, with little notes of meditation on Groot’s current arrested development.
Also there are the creepy robots.
Marvel.com: Besides the obvious—i.e. the language barrier—how does Groot stand out from the other super heroes in Marvel’s roster for worse or for better?
Christopher Hastings: Well, right now he really stands out because he’s a super-powered toddler. I don’t believe the Avengers currently has any of those in their ranks. Little Groot is a ton of fun, just very impulsive, and we get a lot of great reactions out of him thanks to Flaviano’s artwork. As for downsides, he’s certainly not as powered up as full size, so we have to get creative with how he uses his abilities.
Marvel.com: The current incarnation of Groot is a fairly new character. Is this series about him finding himself?
Christopher Hastings: That’s very much what we’re trying to do here! It’s why I thought it important to get him away from the Guardians. He has to make this journey alone, and he’ll see pieces of himself in these other new characters he meets along the way.
Join the journey with I AM GROOT #3 by Christopher Hastings and Flaviano, out July 26!
Gwen’s about to let somebody’s secret out—who’s the unlucky hero?
Gwen Poole loves the Marvel Universe as much as we do, and she never wants to cause problems for her favorite super heroes. Nonetheless, she makes her share of missteps that result in some sticky situations for those in her orbit.
In the upcoming UNBELIEVEABLE GWENPOOL #18 on July 26, Gwen unintentionally blurts out someone’s secret identity. But whose? We ran our top five guesses past writer Christopher Hastings.
Marvel.com: Kate Bishop—The two teamed up recently, and Gwen totally had a fangirl moment, so we wouldn’t call it surprising if she let it slip that she’d met her. Kate doesn’t necessarily keep her identity a secret, but as a P.I., she doesn’t want someone like Gwen advertising what she gets up to.
Christopher Hastings: Gwen could definitely make things rough for Kate by telling the wrong person something about Kate’s past; but as how Gwen kind of annoys a lot of heroes, I like having one person she can just get along with. We’re gonna keep Gwen and Kate pals for now.
Marvel.com: Miles Morales—We saw Gwen meet up with Miles on the subway, and they had an awkward moment when she had to make up an excuse explaining how she knew his identity. We could see Gwen forgetting that she’s not supposed to know that.
Christopher Hastings: Miles is a solid choice, as he has some real stakes to keep his face hidden. But Gwen’s super hero screw-up the last time they “teamed up” made a pretty serious impression. Gwen’s learning to do better in comic world, and she started that path with Spidey tying her up for the cops.
Marvel.com: Jane Foster—Early on, we saw Gwen call Jane by her name, rather than Thor. Although it looks like Jane will soon reveal her identity to the Odinson, she still doesn’t want other people knowing it. Especially with the new Ultimate Thor in town.
Christopher Hastings: I could see Gwen spoiling Jane’s identity out of some desire to “help out” with all of the spiraling madness around the Thors. But as we can speak truthfully about meta stuff with Gwen—kind of her thing—I think Gwen as a reader would not be pleased to be reading Thor for so long only to have some random crossover mercenary character jump in and ruin it.
Unbelievable Gwenpool #18 cover by Gurihiru
Marvel.com: Kamala Khan—With everything going on with the F.R.I.E.N.D.L.Y. creeps in Jersey City, who want to uncover the identities of people with powers, a slip-up from someone like Gwen could have serious ramifications.
Christopher Hastings: [Laughs] I have nothing to add to this one! It would indeed be very bad for Kamala at this moment for Gwen to pop into her life. Maybe this is it? I won’t say!
Marvel.com: Riri Williams—Riri and her teammates have found themselves in the middle of some intense stuff lately in the fight against Hydra. So Riri definitely doesn’t want her identity leaked right now!
Christopher Hastings: Here is an interesting case. Riri became Ironheart after Gwen arrived in the Marvel Universe. Gwen might be able to guess, but she never got to read Riri in [INVINCIBLE IRON MAN], and wouldn’t know for sure.
Marvel.com: Herself—Ok, it’s probably not this one, but we can have fun speculating. We’ve seen Gwen telling people for a long time now that she comes from a place where the Marvel Universe exists only in comics, but no one seems to listen. And she just literally broke through the fourth wall, discovering seemingly infinite mirror versions of herself. If one of those Gwens finally convinced others in the MU about the truth of where she comes from, it could really cause chaos.
Christopher Hastings: Hmmm, yes now that Gwen is discovering the link between the way that time works in comics as being physical space on the page, she might be able to grab future or past versions of herself simply by reaching one panel over. And that would indeed convince people she’s maybe on to something with this comics world stuff! We shall see…
Get the answers for yourself on July 26 in UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL #18 from Christopher Hastings and Gurihiru!
Christopher Hastings goes down a wormhole with the tiniest Guardian!
Don’t call him a sapling! He may be 1/12th his usual size, but he’s still the universe’s most powerful walking, talking tree. He is Groot!
Alone at the far side of the cosmos, unable to find the rest of the Guardians, and really, really small—that’s where we’ll find the galaxy’s most lovable piece of timber on May 24 with the start of the brand-new series I AM GROOT!
With writer Christopher Hastings and artist Flaviano at the helm, the three-word wonder jumps headfirst into his own adventure as an underdeveloped, unintelligible, and very unlikely hero. To find out more, we spoke with Hastings about the difficulties—and unexpected benefits—of writing Groot.
Marvel.com: What’s the greatest challenge of writing Groot given his signature three word limit?
Christopher Hastings: Well that’s the challenge right there, he can’t quite express complex ideas the same way w’’re used to with the fancy language we communicate with every day. But with some body language, and the occasional assist from another character in the book translating for him, Groot can communicate all the base level important stuff we need in a story.
Marvel.com: And since there’s nothing else like it in comics, what’s the greatest advantage that Groot’s linguistic style brings to a story?
Christopher Hastings: It is a great relief to drop the need for a snappy protagonist who always has the right zinger. But that’s just for me! I’d say in the story, it is nice to change the focus to physicality, to non-verbal expression. Comics is a visual medium after all, so I like to see a character communicate in a purely visual fashion.
I Am Groot #2 cover by Marco D’Alfonso
Marvel.com: He might not say much, but he has such a defined personality. How would you describe Groot’s characteristics as this series begins?
Christopher Hastings: He’s a kid who is just enjoying being a kid. Now, he’s doing that in the most hazardous conditions that space adventure would suggest, so it causes a good amount of trouble. He gets separated from the Guardians, and he’s scared and alone in a place where nobody can understand him, that draws out a few characters that are pretty hostile to Groot for reasons unknown. So he’s still really impulsive, and curious and just running all over the place, but he’s trying to figure out how to get home.
Marvel.com: One of the greatest elements of any Groot story is witnessing other characters interact with—and attempt to understand—Groot. So who might we see hanging with the tree in this new series? How would you describe the dynamic they bring to the book?
Christopher Hastings: Groot’s first ally is some kind of alien dog’s head on a robot body named Buddy, because who doesn’t love a doggie buddy, especially in space? Buddy’s helpful, but dim, frustrating Groot’s issues with communication. Later on we meet Dhamsus, kind of a Ron Swanson type space farmer/ice elemental, and Diplatessa, a woman split into multiple versions of herself at different points in life. They all want to help Groot, and find that Groot awakens them out of a sort of complacency they had on this dead and corrupted world Groot lands on. Each one of them ties into the mystery of the planet’s past, and its key to reuniting Groot with the Guardians.
Also there’s a swarm of shape shifting robots set out to trick and capture Groot at every turn. They’re creepy!
I AM GROOT #1, by writer Christopher Hastings and artist Flaviano, is available this week on May 24, with issue #2 following June 28!
Writer Christopher Hastings books Gwen a trip back to her own dimension!
In the upcoming UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL #16—due out May 31 from writer Christopher Hastings and artist Gurihiru—we find our favorite, pink-clad hero back in her home dimension and pining for the Marvel Universe. Because honestly, who wouldn’t choose to live in the world of comics if they had the choice?
We chatted with writer Christopher Hastings about some of the main differences between Gwen’s native universe and the MU—and some of the things that make the “real world” so much less exciting.
A distinct lack of super heroes
Christopher Hastings: The biggest difference between the Marvel Universe and the “real world” that Gwen is from, is that there are no super heroes here, er…there. No vampires, no giant world-eating aliens, and I think the reason people are still so excited about Nikola Tesla is because he’s the closest thing the real world ever had to an actual wizard.
Less fancy science
Christopher Hastings: This brings me to the second major difference between the MU and the RW—real world. Technologically and scientifically speaking, the real world is far less advanced than the Marvel one. When was the last time you saw a helicarrier flying overhead? And that’s like one of the easy ones! Doctor Doom has been mixing magic into Tony Stark’s technology lately, and we can barely design a robot that can reliably walk around on two legs without falling over.
Unbelievable Gwenpool #17 cover by Gurihiru
Dead really, really means dead
Christopher Hastings: Many Marvel characters who have died have come back to life, in a variety of ways. Cloning, magic, time travel, alternate realities; there are so many ways for a dead person to stop being dead in the MU. As I write this in May of 2017, there has yet to be a single person who has figured out how to come back to life in the real world. It is frankly one of the bigger bummers of living here.
Christopher Hastings: In the Marvel Universe, I’m going to guess that every tenth person wears some sort of spandex outfit. And they wear it every day. There are far fewer costumes here, and usually you only see them at conventions. I think the real world could use more costuming. Let’s see that start to happen, everyone.
The daily grind
Christopher Hastings: Even a normal girl like Gwen Poole can find herself in far more extraordinary circumstances in the Marvel Universe than she’s used to. Back in the real world, there’s just a whole lot less fighting, laser fire avoiding, and yelling at flying people than Gwen goes through in her time in the Marvel one. But that isn’t to say there isn’t mystery and intrigue. In an adventure that sends Gwen back, what will readers discover about Gwen’s family, and the secret of how Gwen got to the MU in the first place?
Follow along as Christopher Hastings and Gurihiru unfurl the mystery and intrigue with UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL #16 on May 31!
Christopher Hastings enrolls Gwen in Kate Bishop’s fan club!
One of the reasons we love following the adventures of Gwenpool: she gets to experience the Marvel Universe the way we all wish we could. She’s a fangirl who gets to meet her favorite characters in real life!
Most recently, our intrepid hero hooked up with Kate Bishop, aka Hawkeye, whom she totally loves, of course! We caught up with writer Christopher Hastings in advance of their continuing team-up in UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL #15 on May 10 about what makes Gwen such a fan.
Mad sleuthing skillz
“First up, gotta recognize pure detective Skillzzz. That’s capital ‘S,’ three ‘z’s. Kate can look at a crowd and instantly know who has good abs, rank who among them has had the best lunches that day, and spot her lurking suspect. She’s like Jason Bourne, but better at knowing where to get good tacos.”
Great Hawkeye, or the greatest Hawkeye?
“Skillzzz Part Two: Bow Skillzzz. Kate can shoot like two or three arrows at once. This does not work in real life, ever. I feel certain there’s a video out there that starts with ‘…and this is Jackass…’ and ends with ‘OH NO! MY EEEEYES! NEVER SHOOT MORE THAN ONE ARROW AT ONCE! THANK GOD! THERE IS THE AMBULANCE.’ But Kate does it all the time! Kate gets bored with conventional archery, and I respect that.
“Bow and arrow based super heroes have a long tradition of ‘trick arrows.’ Kate continues this proud line, but kicks it up with bomb-y pins. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, exhibit one billion on why Kate Bishop rules: bomb-y pins. Bobby pins that are also bombs. I rest my case.”
She knows how to rock purple
“Even out of costume, Kate Bishop sticks with her color branding. Purple all the time, yo. And as a lady who wears a lot of pink and white, Gwen would definitely give a nod to Kate’s ability to work her color.”
“Gwen sees Kate as cool and funny, and probably totally wants to be her. NOTE: Gwen, when you meet Kate, at least try not to come off as a ‘goober fangirl.’ Play it cool!”
Hang with this dynamite duo alongside Christopher Hastings and Myisha Haynes in UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL #15 on May 10!
Christopher Hastings guides the tiny tree on an interstellar adventure!
Groot has gotten himself lost. Lost and stuck in his baby-sized form. With the other Guardians of the Galaxy nowhere to be found, the tiny Groot must fend for himself in a strange world.
Thankfully, he does not have to do it all on this own. He has writer Christopher Hastings and artist Flaviano in his corner for I AM GROOT, a new series coming this May.
Hastings took a break from his bonsai garden to discuss the series with us.
Marvel.com: As a writer, what is the creative draw of Groot? What challenges does he present?
Christopher Hastings: Well the initial draw is that he is hilarious and adorable. That “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” trailer is filled with amazing stuff I can’t wait to see, but the best part is Rocket trying to get Groot not to blow them all up. I’m really excited to put that little guy in all kinds of bad situations and see how he makes them worse.
The main challenge is of course Groot’s limited language. I’m trying to approach the story in a very specific way to make sure it’s not a hindrance, but actually part of what makes it fun.
Marvel.com: In the book, circumstances conspire to separate Groot from his teammates and he is stuck at small size besides. What’s the character’s state of mind as he finds himself alone on the planet?
Christopher Hastings: He’s scared at first. He’s basically a toddler who’s been separated from his family, and is immediately introduced to the strange new terrors of this unknown part of the universe. But that very quickly changes to an impulsive curiosity, driving him deeper and deeper into this weird land.
Marvel.com: Overall, how would you describe the tone you are trying to achieve for this title?
Christopher Hastings: I’m a big fan of stories where little kids have to navigate a weird fantasy land as some sort of metaphor for what’s going on in their normal life. In this case, I’m specifically thinking of “Labyrinth,” “The Neverending Story,” and “Return to Oz.” I’m also pulling a lot from the dreamier Zelda games—“Link’s Awakening” and “Majora’s Mask.” There’s a lot of story in those games, despite the fact that Link can’t even say, “I am Link.” We’ve got a massive advantage there with [I AM GROOT].
Marvel.com: How does artist Flaviano’s work on the book help you to realize that tone? How does his style complement your scripting?
Christopher Hastings: I’m really asking for strange settings and characters that will all tie into a core mystery of this forgotten world Groot’s landed on. Flaviano’s got exactly the kind of thoughtful and specific design mentality that’ll flesh it out perfectly. The characters are so expressive. They can charm you or unsettle you just as easily.
Marvel.com: What kind of supporting cast might readers expect to encounter in this title? Any villains in the early going?
Christopher Hastings: Like I’ve said, there’s an old secret to this planet that’s been completely forgotten, but leaves little hints scattered about. Early characters that Groot [meets] are scavengers, just trying to survive with bits and pieces of abandoned technology and infrastructure. It’s not a great situation, but it’s one they’ve learned to be comfortable with. And Groot’s just going to mess all that up in his quest to return to the Guardians.
As for a villain, there are higher status forces who have a more active approach to keeping things as they are on this planet, which simply can’t be if Groot is to return home.
Marvel.com: Speaking directly to fans, why is I AM GROOT one that they’ll want to buy?
Christopher Hastings: This is a book for anyone who wants to see more of this new really funny, really cute Groot, but pushed to the edge, completely on his own. It’s also for anyone who wants to read the words “I am Groot” a lot.
I AM GROOT #1 by Christopher Hastings and Flaviano plants its roots on May 24!
The most organic Guardian of the Galaxy gets his own ongoing series!
So we’re all in agreement: Groot is the best, right?
If you consider yourself a Groot fan—and really, how can you not—you’ve got a lot to look forward to, because he’ll soon get his own series! In the upcoming I AM GROOT #1—coming this May—our hero will find himself stranded on a strange planet, trying to make his way home.
We chatted with writer Christopher Hastings about what we can expect.
Marvel.com: It’s really interesting that Groot is getting his own series, given the way he communicates. Have you found it challenging to think of ways to convey his emotions and experiences without ordinary dialog?
Christopher Hastings: Groot’s lack of communication definitely poses a challenge, but I’ve really made it a point to tackle everything from that position, not to try and ignore or work around the problem. I’m really making it a point that the story works with his character, and that he finds himself in situations where he can clearly show emotional reactions, even if he can’t express something that more complex language demands.
Marvel.com: We’ll find Groot in a very vulnerable position: smaller than normal, and on an unknown planet where he has difficulty communicating with people. How did you go about exploring how he would handle this kind of situation?
Christopher Hastings: Groot certainly feels vulnerable on this scary world we strand him on, but I consider this little Groot a very impulsive character, so we won’t see him quivering in a safe cave for the length of the series.
And without Rocket, he does get very frustrated trying to talk to people. Part of his quest will involve finding a way to get others to understand that he wants to get back home.
I also try to explore how other characters interpret Groot. We often see him through the lens of the Guardians he spends time with, especially Rocket. How would someone who doesn’t know him interpret his intentions?
I Am Groot #1 cover by Marco D’Alfonso
Marvel.com: Groot has so much heart. Would you consider it particularly hard for him to get separated from the others?
Christopher Hastings: Of course! He’s a little kid tree. He feels devastated. All he wants is to get back to them, and he has no idea how.
Marvel.com: Everyone loves Groot! What do you think makes him so lovable?
Christopher Hastings: I think something about the oblivious glee he puts out there. I see him as a troublemaker, but you can’t get mad at him!
Marvel.com: Groot will need to find his way to the center of this new world. Without giving too much away, what challenges will he face on his journey?
Christopher Hastings: Like I said, Groot’s a little troublemaker. And the planet he lands on has remained in a sort of stasis for a very long time. The creatures that still live there would rather that stasis not get disturbed but…Groot doesn’t care! Groot wants to get home! He’ll upset everything to pull it off. But he definitely needs to figure out a way for people to understand what he says first.
Marvel.com: Would you like to tease or mention anything else?
Christopher Hastings: When I pitched the story, I mentioned that I envisioned it as something like “Labyrinth” or “Return to Oz.” A lot of that vibe comes from really fantastical location and character designs. We just started getting the first bits of artwork in from the series artist, Flaviano, whom I consider more than perfect for the job. This book will look totally unique. And he clearly knows how to make Groot as adorable and funny as possible.
Get your fix of adorable adventure with I AM GROOT by Christopher Hastings and Flaviano, kicking off this May!