So, you think you know the Guardians of the Galaxy?

With the incredibly epic “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” coming out in May, it’s time for you to brush up on the history of the Guardians.

Let’s start with the team’s heroic members…ALL of them. Don’t be surprised when you’re told by hard core fans that the first movie barely scratches the surface when it comes to the team’s lore. Did you know that there are two different teams? From two different universes? That’s right. The quirky, yet valiant, team of Peter Quill (aka Star Lord), Gamora, Groot, Rocket Raccoon, and Drax the Destroyer are only a small part of the group. The first formation of the group starts in the distant future of the 31st century, in alternate universe, where a couple of unlikely heroes emerged, including Yondu Udonta (yes, you read that right). For now, let’s begin with some familiar faces.

The Current Guardians

With their first appearance in 2008, these Guardians of the Galaxy formed as a group opposing the Phalanx conquest of the Kree system and stayed together in an attempt to prevent any further catastrophes from ever occurring. 

Guardians of the Galaxy (2008) #1

Guardians of the Galaxy (2008) #1

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Peter Quill

Peter Quill

Peter Quill was conceived from the love between the terran Meredith Quill and the Spartoi Emperor J’son. After being abducted by a pirate crew, captained by the fearsome Yondu, Quill would eventually escape and set out to become “Star-Lord,” a title his father once dawned. After the events of the Phalanx Invasion, Quill realized that the universe was in dire need of protecting. With the aid of Mantis telepathically urging his recruits, Quill formed the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Powers:

  • Spartoi Physiology: Peter is half-Human, half-Spartoi giving him peak human abilities such as human strength, durability, agility, stamina, and longevity
  • Link with Ship: He is psionically linked to his starship, “Ship,” a living entity

Weapons & Equipment:

  • Kree Heat-Dampening Espionage Battle Suit: Star-Lord was outfitted with a Kree-issued heat-dampening espionage battle suit, his hallmark look; a battle helmet; and a universal translator. His famous battle helmet analyzes strategy data, as well as improve vision and regulate oxygen while in space.
  • Star-Lord Armor: Quill wears a suit that grants augmented strength and durability, and the ability to travel through space with ease.
  • Mandalay Gem: Alien technological mineral of celestial making; the gem utilizes cosmic energies to provide its user with vast and versatile capability, both in combat and travel
  • Element Gun: A pistol capable of conjuring one of the four elements
  • Kree Sub-Machine Gun: Star-Lord’s chosen weapons are two Kree sub-machine guns with various types of ammunition, including explosives

First Appearance: Marvel Preview #4 (January, 1976)

Marvel Preview (1977) #4

Marvel Preview (1977) #4

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Drax the Destroyer

Drax the Destroyer

Originally a real estate agent, this unlucky soul bumped into Thanos, setting off a chain of events. Thanos’ grandfather, Kronos, fashioned a new body made from the Earth’s soil to give Arthur Douglas superhuman abilities, transforming him into the awesome Drax the Destroyer. After the events of Annihilation, Drax was recruited by the legendary Star-Lord to join the butt-kicking Guardians of the Galaxy.

Powers:

  • Enhanced Physiology: Due to his new body, Drax has a number of superhuman abilities including strength, stamina, durability, senses, and an accelerated healing factor
  • Cosmic Awareness: He possesses a low-level form of cosmic awareness that allows him to track Thanos

Weapons & Equipment:

  • Twin Knives: While Drax is more than proficient in combat, he is always carrying his handy twin Knives

First Appearance: Iron Man #55 (February, 1973) 

Iron Man (1968) #55

Iron Man (1968) #55

  • Published: February 10, 1973
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 05, 2008
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Cosmo

Cosmo

A former test animal of the Soviet Space Program, Cosmo launched into Earth’s orbit as part of an experiment. He drifted off into space during the 1960’s, arriving in “Knowhere.” Mysteriously mutated, this daring Golden Labrador Retriever mix came to serve as the station’s security chief. Currently, Cosmo acts as a liaison for the Guardians and assists them in plotting courses for areas of the universe in peril.

Powers:

  • Telekinesis: A wide range of telekinetic powers including telepathic cloak, illusions, mind control, mental paralysis, psionic blast, and mental detection
  • Extended Longevity: Cosmo is decades older than the normal life expectancy of other dogs

Weapons & Equipment:

  • Space suit: Cosmo’s original Soviet Space suit given to him during the space race of the 1960’s.

First appearance: Nova #8 (January, 2008)  

Nova (2007) #8

Nova (2007) #8

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Bug

Bug

Bug is a master thief from the Insectivorid homeworld “Kaliklak” based in the Microverse. A member of the Microns, Bug is an adept fighter who joined the Guardians after Rocket Raccoon asked him when the original group disbanded.

Powers:

  • Insectivorid Physiology: Bug’s native abilities are considered superhuman compared to other humanoids. His powers include great strength, speed, stamina, agility, durability, reflexes, recuperative powers, balance, coordination, and sense of equilibrium.
  • Wall-Crawling: Ability to cling to surfaces and scale them like any insect
  • Danger-Sense: Similar to Spider-Man, this ability, in the form of a tingling sensation at the base of his skull, alerts him to danger
  • Antennae: Ability to communicate with other antennae-beings over a limited amount of space

Weapons & Equipment:

  • Gilder-Pac: A telepathically-controlled glider-pac enabling flight
  • Rocket Lance: Bug’s weapon of choice, which can fire varying intensities of energy, and can return to his hand if thrown

First Appearance: Micronauts #1 (January, 1979)

Gamora

Gamora

Gamora is the sole survivor of an alien humanoid race called the Zen Whoberis, a peace-loving tribe whose population was wiped out by a zealous religious order seeking to establish a galaxy-wide empire. The mad Titan Thanos rescued Gamora and brought her to a time period at least two decades prior to her people’s deaths, travelling from Earth-7528 to Earth-616. Aboard his space station Sanctuary, Thanos raised Gamora and used advanced technology to endow her with enhanced humanoid abilities. Feeling lost after the Phalanx Invasion, Gamora joined the Guardians of the Galaxy to give new purpose to her life

Powers:

  • Zen Whoberis Physiology: Slight superhuman strength, durability, endurance and reflexes, as well as a healing factor
  • Enhanced Physiology: Raised to be a deadly assassin by Thanos, he enhanced her body with advanced technologies; because of this, Gamora is a master in martial arts, various weaponry and an expert marksman and tactician.

Weapons & Equipment:

  • Time Gem
  • The Godslayer

First Appearance: Strange Tales #180 (June, 1975)  

Strange Tales (1973) #180

Strange Tales (1973) #180

  • Published: June 10, 1975
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: October 30, 2012
  • Writer: Jim Starlin
  • Penciler: Jim Starlin
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Groot

Groot

Groot is a Flora colossus from Planet X, the capital of the branch worlds. During his adulthood, Groot wandered around Kree space exploring galaxies until he was captured and imprisoned. While in jail, he formed a rapport with Rocket Raccoon and was assigned to a covert ops team led by Star-Lord, which would eventually become the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Powers:

  • Cellular Regeneration: As a flora, Groot can regenerate any part of his body. He has almost died on three separate occasions, each time regenerating from a twig.
  • Growth: Apart of the cellular regeneration, Groot can grow and extend his body at extreme speeds
  • Plasticity: Ability to stretch his limbs for long distances and reshape them for a variety of tasks
  • Superhuman Strength: Groot’s tree-like form provides him great strength
  • Control Over Other Plants: Groot has the power to control other plants, especially his own physical form. He can turn his hands into blades, grow in size altogether, or even use that power to heal himself from fatal wounds.

Weapons & Equipment:

  • Groot’s Body: As mentioned before, Groot can manipulate his body in various ways as well as manipulate other plants, using them as weapons in place of more conventional ones

First Appearance: Tales to Astonish #13 (November, 1960)  

Tales to Astonish (1959) #13

Tales to Astonish (1959) #13

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Jack Flag

Jack Flag

Born Jack Harrison, he took on the alias Jack Flag to impress Captain America. During an undercover mission accident, Jack Flag was drenched in chemicals created by Mr. Hyde, giving him superhuman abilities. During a time in Prison 42, he crossed paths with Star-Lord who saved his life by bringing him back to his base. Grateful, Flag decided to stick around and join the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Powers:

  • Hyde Formula: Various superhuman attributes as a result of being doused with the chemicals that Calvin Zabo used to transform himself into Mr. Hyde. These attributes include superhuman strength, stamina, durability, and a regenerative healing factor.

Weapons & Equipment:

  • Weapon Technology: Various weapons and tech designed by his brother, Drake, including a boom box which contained rockets and fireworks

First Appearance: Captain America #434 (December, 1994)  

Captain America (1968) #434

Captain America (1968) #434

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Mantis

Mantis

As a child, Mantis trained with the alien Priests of Pama, a sect of the Kree, who believed that she might become the “Celestial Madonna.” Experiencing a vision during the time of the Annihilation Wave, she allowed herself to become imprisoned to wait for Star-Lord to aid in his quest. After a series of events saving and being saved by Star-Lord and his crew, she joined the ranks of the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Powers:

  • Telepathy: Repeatedly demonstrated telepathy as well as a variety of other mental powers
  • Astral Projection: Projects her astral form, allowing her to travel interplanetary distances. Recreating a body out of the destination planet’s local vegetation, her fighting skills remain intact and her emphatic abilities heightened to a superhuman degree and extended to the planet’s flora and biosphere.
  • Chlorokinesis: The ability to control the vegetation within her vicinity. Mantis was able to accelerate her teammate Groot’s cellular growth rate.
  • Pyrokinesis: Mantis burned her teammate Groot’s internal sap with her mental powers, immediately lighting him on fire from the inside
  • Precognition: The ability to foresee almost all the events that would occur during her mission with Star-Lord and their teammates
  • Enhanced Durability: Physically-enhanced durability as well as immunity to mental and metaphysical assaults
  • Self-Healing: The ability to will herself to heal

Weapons & Equipment: None

First Appearance: Avengers #112 (June, 1973)  

Avengers (1963) #112

Avengers (1963) #112

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Moondragon

Moondragon

Heather Douglas is the daughter of Arthur Douglas, whose reanimated corpse had transformed into Drax the Destroyer. After a car explosion killed her parents, Thanos’ father Mentor took Heather back to Titan. After unlocking her psychic powers, she came under the influence of a powerful entity known as the Dragon of the Moon. Escaping his clutches and filled with pride, she took the name Moondragon. Like many of the other members, Moondragon crossed paths with Star-Lord after the Annihilation Wave and joined the Guardians of the Galaxy where she continues to fight alongside them.

Powers:

  • Psionics: One of the most powerful human born telepaths ever; repeatedly demonstrating mental psionic energy usage far in advance of all human and human mutants, including that of the world-renowned telepaths Professor Charles Xavier, Emma Frost and Jean Grey. Some of the abilities with this power include telepathy and telekinesis.
  • Dragon Form: The ability to assume the form of a strong and durable dragon capable of faster-than-light speed travel and surviving in outer space without air

Weapons & Equipment:

  • Conventional and Unconventional Weapons: Guns, staffs, and plasma weapons

First Appearance: Iron Man #54 (January, 1973)  

Iron Man (1968) #54

Iron Man (1968) #54

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Phyla-Vell

Phyla-Vell

When a new universe was created (after the destruction from the insane Genis-Vell), Phyla-Vell emerged as one of the new alterations. She is the second artificially-created offspring of Captain Marvel. After the events of the Annihilation Wave, Phyla-Vell decided to join a group that would protect the universe, the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Powers:

  • Kree Heritage: Possesses superhuman strength, the ability to fly, and a fraction of her father’s cosmic awareness
  • Energy Absorption: Like a sponge, she can absorb most outside energy sources directed at her

Weapons & Equipment:

  • Nega Bands: These powerful bands give the wearer a wide array of powers and abilities including: increased physical strength, interstellar flight, the ability to absorb & manipulate various types of energy, increased invulnerability to physical attacks, survival in the vacuum of space, and no need for food, water, air or sleep

First Appearance: Captain Marvel Vol 5 #16 (January, 2004) 

Rocket Raccoon

Rocket Raccoon

Rocket Raccoon is the result of sentient robots who used genetic engineering to give intelligence and sentience to animals so they wouldn’t have to take care of crazy people, and instead, could start their own colony far away. Think that sounds crazy? Well, clearly you haven’t met Rocket Raccoon. A near diabolical genius and weapons expert with a love for violence, this raccoon has it all. During the events of the Phalanx Invasion, Rocket was paired with Star-Lord, Groot, and others to form a tactical team. Eventually they would form the Guardians of the Galaxy where Rocket would act as a second-in-command, sometimes acting as a de-facto leader.

Powers:

  • Raccoon Physiology: Rocket possesses the same enhanced abilities attributed to Earth raccoons, including an acute sense of smell and sharp eyesight
  • Enhanced Physiology: Enhancements from the robot stewards gave Rocket enhanced intelligence, which over time, allowed him to become an expert in marksmanship, martial arts, tactician, and strategist.

Weapons & Equipment:

  • Rocket-Powered Jet Boots: Also known as his “rocket skates,” not only do they propel him around but the exhaust is powerful enough to be used as a short ranged weapon
  • Dual Laser Pistols: One of Rocket’s go-to weapons are his dual laser pistols as well as other assorted heavy weapons

First Appearance: Marvel Preview #7 (June 1976)  

Marvel Preview (1977) #7

Marvel Preview (1977) #7

  • Published: July 10, 1976
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 28, 2016
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Adam Warlock

Adam Warlock

Created by a group of researches known as “The Enclave,” Adam Warlock is the pinnacle of future human evolution. Adam Warlock commands the mighty Soul Gem, given to him by the High Evolutionary. Due to disastrous events after the Annihilation Wave, he was given newfound powers and became an active force in the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Powers:

  • Enhanced Biology: Possesses a number of superhuman properties and powers derived from his artificially-altered genetic structure including strength, speed, stamina, durability, and agility
  • Immortality: While Warlock can be killed, he never truly dies due to the fact his soul is so strong, even Death herself cannot claim his soul
  • Matter Manipulation: Ability to convert energy into matter and the ability to have absolute control over the process
  • Cosmic Awareness: Ability to detect or produce wormholes and other irregularities in space on a cosmic scale

Weapons & Equipment:

  • Soul Gem (Formerly): At one point Warlock possessed the Soul Gem, one of the legendary Infinity Gems, giving him the power to drain and control the life essences (or spirits) of living (or dead) organisms. This gem possessed a consciousness of its own, and displayed a vampiric hunger for the life-essences of living beings. Warlock was so accomplished at the gem’s usage that he could use its energies to project energy blasts, protective shields, and blasts of mystic energies capable of disrupting the karmic centers of living beings.
  • Karmic Staff: An extension of Warlock’s own life-essence, and its properties make it seemingly unbreakable. He can focus mystic energies through this staff with greater accuracy than he could by other means.

First Appearance: Fantastic Four #66 (September 1967)  

Fantastic Four (1961) #66

Fantastic Four (1961) #66

  • Published: September 10, 1967
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
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Guardians of the Galaxy (3000)

Guardians of the Galaxy (3000)

The original group under this galactic moniker, first appeared in the January 1969 publication of Marvel Super-Heroes! Forming in the year 3007, after the Badoon held each member captive and invading their solar system, the team escaped to kick major butt and continued to fight for peace and prosperity throughout the galaxy.

Charlie-27

Charlie-27

Genetically engineered to live in Jupiter’s gravity, Charlie-27 is a soldier and space pilot, once captain in the United Lands Earth Space Militia. In 3007 A.D., the alien Badoon invaded the solar system, performing various acts of genocide. Charlie was the only survivor of his world due to being on a long-term space mission. He joined forces with Martinex, Yondu, and Vance Astro to form the Guardians of the Galaxy, a band of freedom fighters.

Powers:

  • Jovian Ancestry: His Jovian ancestry makes him 11 times stronger and 11 times denser than a normal human being, giving him superhuman strength, stamina, and durability

Weapons & Equipment:

  • Guardian Communicator/ Teleporter Star: Allows the Guardians to access their ships’ teleportation system
  • Yondu’s Yaka Dagger: Given as a gift from Yondu, Charlie is never seen without it

First Appearance: Marvel Super-Heroes #18 (January, 1969)  

Marvel Super-Heroes (1967) #18

Marvel Super-Heroes (1967) #18

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Martinex T’Naga

Martinex T’Naga

Pluvian scientist Martinex’s body is completely covered by facets that were crystalline in appearance, allowing Pluvians to withstand the extreme temperatures of their world. When the Badoon attempted to exterminate all the Pluvians, Martinex escaped the Badoon and teamed with Vance Astro, Charlie-27, and Yondu to fight the Badoon as the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Powers:

  • Pluvian Physiology: Descended from the original human colonists of Pluto who were genetically-engineered to survive on that world. As a result, Martinex is a silicone-based lifeform with strength, durability, enhanced vision, ability to survive in a vacuum, and temperature resistance. He can withstand a greater range of hot or cold temperatures than humans
  • Thermokinesis: Martinex’s physiology can further improve his resistance to temperature extremes by siphoning excess heat out of the environment to warm up, or venting his own body heat to cool down. Martinex can also focus this effect offensively to project thermal beams of heat or cold.

Weapons & Equipment: None

First Appearance: Marvel Super-Heroes #18 (January, 1969)

Nikki Gold

Nikki Gold

Born on the Planet Mercury in the 31st Century, Nicholette “Nikki” Gold joined the Guardians of the Galaxy when she escaped the clutches of the Badoon invasion that killed her parents right before her eyes. Discovered on an abandoned spacecraft by the Guardians, she joined their ranks seeking excitement and adventures after years of solitude.

Powers:

  • Mercurian Physiology: A member of the genetically-engineered offshoot of humanity whose traits were designed for survival in the harsh conditions of the planet Mercury. As such, she possesses the ability to see in intense light, has a built-up resistance to heat and most types of radiation. Nikki’s hair is made of fire and she can potentially burn people with just a touch of her hand, due to an incredibly high body temperature.
  • Combat Skills: Extensive proficiency in hand-to-hand combat and proficiency in gymnastics and sharp-shooting

Weapons & Equipment:

  • Wrist Blasters: Twin wrist blasters with a range of settings from stun to kill

First Appearance: Marvel Presents #4 (April, 1976)

Starhawk

Starhawk

Stakar Ogord is the adoptive son of Ogord the Reaver. Growing up, he was raised alongside Ogord’s true daughter Aleta. The two found a statue of the Hawk God, which merged their beings together. Stakar emerged as the dominant being causing him to take on the mantle of Starhawk. At some point, his adult mind was sent back in time to his infant body to repeat his life, with the cycle repeating over and over again. He adopts the title “The One Who Knows,” predicting things that would happen in people’s lives. Starhawk would go on to nudge events in the right direction to allow for the creation of the Guardians of the Galaxy. He joins their ranks and convinces them to lead a life as space explorers and protect the universe.

Powers:

  • Hawk God: The true extent of these powers are unknown. However, his inherited powers include superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability, agility, reflexes, and enhanced senses
  • Immortality: No longer ages and is immune to disease and infection
  • Light Manipulation: He can manipulate light to create concussive force blasts of photonic energy, heat, and solid-light constructs
  • Flight: Surrounding himself with intermingled photons and anti-gravitons, Starhawk can fly at great speeds

Weapons & Equipment:

  • Starhawk’s Suit: Made of alien materials, including a retracting transparent face-mask, life support system, and retractable solar wind collector wings, which can harness light waves and photonic particles from solar winds, producing easier and faster flight

First Appearance: Defenders #27 (September, 1975)  

Defenders (1972) #27

Defenders (1972) #27

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Talon

Talon

A member of the Inhumans in the 31st century, Talon is a beastly-looking creature with a heart of gold. Working under the tutelage of Soccer Supreme Krugarr, Talon saved Major Victory after battling a gang of thugs.

Powers:

  • Inhuman Superpower: As a member of the Inhumans, he possesses superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability, agility, and reflexes
  • Beastly Physique: As a literal beast, Talon possesses razor sharp claws on his hands and feet. Aside from being razor sharp and used in the conventional sense, Talon has the unique ability to fire these claws as projectile weapons, re-growing new ones almost instantly. These claw projectiles could be as deadly as high caliber bullets.

Weapons & Equipment: None

First Appearance: Guardians of the Galaxy #18 (November, 1991)  

Guardians of the Galaxy (1990) #18

Guardians of the Galaxy (1990) #18

  • Published: November 01, 1991
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: March 21, 2016
  • Rating: All Ages
  • Writer: Jim Valentino
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Yondu Udonta

Yondu Udonta

Yondu Udonta started his life as a game hunter from the primitive Zatoan tribe native to Centauri-IV. After being captured by the vicious Badoon, he encountered Vance Astro, Charlie-27, and Martinex T’naga, where they banded together to fight the Badoon and become the incredibly impressive Guardians of the Galaxy.

Powers:

  • Zatoan Intuition: While Yondu displays no superhuman physical powers, he is a natural mystic like his entire tribe. He possesses an intuitive sixth sense that permits him limited emphatic relationships with other lifeforms. The higher the lifeform, the more limited his emphatic potential

Weapons & Equipment:

  • Yaka Arrow: Yondu always carries a 5-foot single curve bow and a quiver of arrows composed of Yaka, a special sound-sensitive metal found only on Centauri IV. A Yaka Arrow can change its direction (but not speed) in response to certain high-octave whistle sounds some Centaurians produce.

First Appearance: Marvel Super-Heroes #18 (January, 1969)  

Marvel Super-Heroes (1967) #18

Marvel Super-Heroes (1967) #18

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Major Victory

Major Victory

Last, but certainly not least, U.S. Air Force pilot turned astronaut, Vance Astro, took on a special mission to colonize a distant planet. After escaping the clutches of an evil organization and realizing he had been in suspended animation for centuries, Astro would go on to lead a group of fellow adventurers called the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Powers:

  • Psychokinesis: Vance Astro possesses the psionic ability to affect matter with his mind

Weapons & Equipment:

  • Passport armbands: Allows him to use Knowhere’s teleporters to teleport instantly
  • Captain America’s Shield: During the time when he carried Cap’s shield in combat, he would use his power to propel the shield and manipulate its flight path, simulating Cap’s use of the shield as a throwing weapon

First appearance: Marvel Super-Heroes #18 (January, 1969)  

Marvel Super-Heroes (1967) #18

Marvel Super-Heroes (1967) #18

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Marvel’s Bill Rosemann dives deep on birthing the Guardians of the Galaxy!

It might sound crazy right now, but if you time traveled back a full decade and told a comic-loving audience that the Guardians of the Galaxy would be a mega Marvel franchise in the same vein as the Avengers, you would have been laughed back through the timestream. At that point, the team that has now starred in several comic book series as well as a major motion picture with a sequel hitting on May 5, a Disney XD cartoon, multiple action figure lines, and the upcoming Telltale video game series, didn’t exist yet.

Sure, the original team had a nice run and Peter Quill had started making a name for himself in the original ANNIHILATION series as Nova’s main strategist, but the first embers of the Guardians fire started to flame in the pages of 2007’s ANNIHILATION: CONQUEST – STAR-LORD by writer Keith Giffen and artist Timothy Green II. In that book, Quill returned to his super hero identity and led a ragtag group including Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Bug, Deathcry, Mantis, and Captain Universe on an important mission. Not everyone survived, but by the end of the main ANNIHILATION: CONQUEST story, a team sure seemed like a good idea.

That of course finally came in 2008 with GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. But even before all the writers, artists, and fans got involved in the story, one person saw the value in these characters and wanted them to succeed. That person was then-editor Bill Rosemann and this is his story of co-creating the Guardians of the Galaxy as we know them today.

Marvel.com: How did you get involved in the Marvel Cosmic books?

Bill Rosemann: What happened was I was at the distinguished competition when Annihilation was happening and I was reading it. I was loving it because, even when I was a kid growing up, I didn’t read a ton of Marvel cosmic. I was kind of more into the street-based heroes: Spider-Man and Daredevil. The most cosmic I got was when I picked up an issue of AVENGERS or FANTASTIC FOUR. But I never faithfully read stuff like SILVER SURFER, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, or QUASAR. I knew of them, but never regularly read the series.

When ANNIHILATION came out I loved how they sort of grounded everything and made it very accessible in that they brought characters back who hadn’t been seen since the 80s or 90s. I was a big fan of Nova since he was a part of the New Warriors and so I really appreciated how they made Rich [Rider, aka Nova] very accessible and they elevated him at the same time.

So I was reading that and a big fan of the Annihilation event. I got a call from [then-Marvel-Editor-in-Chief] Joe Quesada to come back over to Marvel: “Hey come on back. We want you to edit full time.” Then we had a meeting where he talked about what books he wanted to give me. Of course, my fingers were crossed. I thought he was going to say Spider-Man, Daredevil. Instead, he smiled and said, “We want you to edit the cosmic books,” and inside I was like “Darn!” but on the outside I was like, “You got it boss!” Then I started to think about what was happening in Annihilation, because I loved it.

Marvel.com: And that led into NOVA, the Annihilation: Conquest event and eventually GUARDIANS?

Bill Rosemann: I was asked to launch NOVA out of that event and after a year I thought to myself, “Self, let’s do another event,” because people responded very well to Annihilation. Things were building, we had enough characters in the NOVA series to build towards an event.

We wanted to echo Annihilation but we did not want to repeat it and so I just thought that if Annihilation was sort of a World War II analogy. You know, here come the Nazis aka the Annihilation Wave, “We must stop them!” So here the decision was, this isn’t about stopping the invading army, the invasion has already happened from within, they’ve taken over, this is an occupation story and the question is, “What do you do when you’re occupied? Do you lay down or do you fight back?” It was a very simple, high concept, accessible idea.

So I asked Dan [Abnett] and Andy [Lanning] who were writing NOVA if they were interested in being the lead on this event, but I also wanted to involve Keith Giffen who wrote the first event, and so I asked him to write the Star-Lord book.

Marvel.com: What made Star-Lord the right choice to star in one of the Annihilation: Conquest limited series’?

Bill Rosemann: The reason for a Star-Lord book was, when we started talking about the event itself, it was going to happen in Kree Space. We started with an opportunity to put the spotlight on Phyla-Vell who was [at the time] Quasar and she was Kree. Much like the first Annihilation, it focused on Rich and he was the main focus on this ensemble piece and we elevated him.

The intention was to focus on Quasar and elevate her on the event. My thought for her was to make her arc a sort of “Cosmic Joan of Arc” and she’ll have her missions where she will rush into battle to repel the Phalanx from the Kree, and that was the main story.

But then I wanted to tell a story down in the trenches. I wanted to show all aspects of the occupation and so I went to Keith and I said, “Hey, I love how you write Peter Quill, how you wrote him in ANNIHILATION.” I wanted to get his Star-Lord days back. I said, “There is something magical about that name, and something really cool about his original design.” It’s got that magic Marvel combo, these primary colors, the blue and yellow.

And I said to him, “I want to do a story where Star-Lord is sort of the Captain Ahab and he has this crazy crew going on this sort of suicide mission.”

Marvel.com: That original Star-Lord team consisted of Rocket, Groot, Captain Universe, Mantis, Bug, and Deathcry. How did that group come about?

Bill Rosemann: I wanted to approach Keith with a list of hand-picked characters he could choose from. So again, walking in the footsteps of the original Annihilation, I opened up my Marvel Handbook of characters who hadn’t been seen in decades.

One night I had all the Handbooks open and I had little sticky notes on individual pages and my wife walked in and she said, “Billy, you’re making a mess! What are you doing?” I said, “Honey, I’m gonna build the next Marvel super team and here is our star!” She said to me, “Is that a squirrel?” and I said, “No, it’s a raccoon—Rocket Raccoon!”

Rocket Raccoon, to me, was sort of the heart of the team. He really represented what was the intention of the team. I was a huge fan of the ROCKET RACCOON [limited series] by Bill Mantlo and Mike Mignola back in the mid-80s. Rocket had really not been seen since then. He had been used once or twice, more as a punchline, but I thought he had great potential as his own hero and I thought, “Of course there is something funny about him, but I think he should use humor as Spider-Man does, where he would say funny things but we wouldn’t be mocking him.”

For some of the team I looked at other successful teams such as the X-Men and I started making decisions based on archetypes. So Rocket was our Wolverine, he was the short hairy guy with an attitude. I kind of picked characters thinking of their power sets, their personalities, their silhouettes, how different they were, and how they would fit together.

So I had a list of characters that included Deathcry, who was a Shi’ar warrior who was in the Avengers and Captain Universe and Rocket and Mantis and Star-Lord and I went into [editor] Tom Brevoort’s office, who was my boss at the time, and I said, “Tom here is a list of characters I want to bring back,” and to his credit, Tom got it and loved it and he started laughing and he said, “Bill you have a character from each decade; you have Deathcry from the 90s, Rocket from the 80s, and Mantis from the 70s.”

He also pointed out, “You don’t have anyone from the 60s.” I asked, “Well who do we have other than Captain Mar-Vell?” and Tom said, “What about one of the Kirby monsters?” I thought, “Oh yeah, one of them came from outer space, so technically they’re a cosmic character.” We had just published a Monster Handbook, so I sat down with it and my intention was, I was thinking about Googam, son of Goom, because he was a monster Tom and I always joked about, and I was turning to the Googam entry to read more about him, and I turn the page, and I see Groot. I see the cover of him from his first appearance, and he’s talking like Doctor Doom, and I’m like, “Oh my gosh, he’s our big guy, every team needs their big guy! If Rocket is our Wolverine, Groot will be our Colossus.”

So I call up Keith and I said, “Keith, here is a list of characters,” and when I gave him a list I showed him Rocket Raccoon, and he said, “You know I co-created him right?” and I said, “Of course! That is why I picked you to do this!”

Marvel.com: That Star-Lord series featured a lot of elements that still carry through to this day in the comics and on the big screen. Did those just naturally come from bouncing these characters off each other?

Bill Rosemann: To Keith’s credit, a lot of the elements that you see in other mediums of the Guardians, specifically in the film, come from that first [CONQUEST – STAR-LORD series]. Everything from Groot going through his journey starting very selfish, then sacrificing himself, blowing himself up and Rocket getting the splinter and planting and then there is little Groot. All of that was in the [comic].

Them all getting recruited, lining up at the prison, that was in the first issue, and most importantly, he was the one that paired Rocket and Groot. In the initial line-up I didn’t say, “Hey, here is the buddy team,” I just had them listed, and then, reading his script, I turn to the page where you first see them together, and they form this bond. I called Keith up and I was laughing so hard, I said, “Why did you think of pairing Rocket with Groot?” and he said, “Eh, one’s a raccoon and one’s a tree. Of course they are going to be together.”

Marvel.com: You mentioned how Quasar was intended to be the star. Were you surprised when Star-Lord and his crew took off like they did?

Bill Rosemann: When that series came out, and we saw how delightful that book was, and saw how strongly people reacted to that [comic], half way through the event I turned to Tom and I said, “I know we were planning on elevating Quasar with this, but these are the characters that are catching on. I want to elevate them out of this.” So Tom said okay and what we all liked about that was we already had a solo book, NOVA, so I wanted a companion book, but we wanted every book to be different. So, if NOVA was the solo book, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY would be our team book.

Then, I turned to Dan and Andy who had finished writing the entire CONQUEST [series] and did an awesome job with it and I said, “You know what? I love your brand of cosmic, and I want you guys to write this team book, so that both books can be in their own corner of the Marvel Universe, and they can be connected tightly and that readers could bounce back and forth between NOVA and GUARDIANS.” With this they could kind of continue their exploration of Marvel Cosmic and things could snowball once there were two books together. So they jumped at it.

Marvel.com: Did it take a while to settle on calling them the Guardians of the Galaxy?

Bill Rosemann: We had to come up with a name and we were thinking about calling them the Annihilators, and we thought, “Eh is that too violent?” and then one of us—and honestly I don’t know who it was—said, “Hey what about, the name that hasn’t been used in a while, Guardians of the Galaxy?”

I went to my bosses and the question was, “Well, if you’re going to call them Guardians, how can they be the Guardians? Aren’t they from the future, in an alternate reality?” and I said, “Well yes, they still exist in their reality, and are still from the future, but maybe this is the first team to use that name. Maybe they inspired the future team and there is no reason to say there can’t be a Guardians team now,” and they said, “Alright.” I just felt passionately that the name Guardians of the Galaxy was so easy to understand, no matter how old you are. You see that logo, you see those words you know what they do; they guard the galaxy.

Marvel.com: How did the other elements like Drax, Gamora, Cosmo, and Knowhere come into play?

Bill Rosemann: We launched the group and it took a while for the core five Guardians to all be assembled. At the beginning, Groot was still small in his pot, he was being taken care of by Mantis on Knowhere, so it took a while for him to grow up and then join the squad. Then we added Drax and Gamora to the mix. They were there from issue #1 in the series, then finally after a while the five core were all there together.

I think the cherry on top was when Dan, Andy, and I were talking about the team and I said, “They need a cool headquarters, every team needs a great headquarters: Avengers Tower, the X-mansion.” I loved the story we did in NOVA where Nova went to Knowhere, which Dan and Andy invented, which was a decapitated Celestial head. I said, “What’s cooler than a giant decapitated robot head for your headquarters? That should be their headquarters!” We got to bring Cosmo back, and he’ll be their head of security, and he’ll always be kind of barking at them because they are always causing trouble. They ran with it, and brought their magic to it.

I can’t give enough credit to Dan and Andy, they just breathed such life into the team and our launch artist Paul Pelletier as well. They brought attitude and humor to the Guardians and it was a magic mix of action, drama, and humor. Most importantly, they realized that the Guardians were a group of lovable misfits. They were underdogs that were always outgunned and always misjudged, underestimated.

We really took it to heart when we first started to show people our lineup, people were laughing at us about using Rocket Raccoon, using Groot. There were people going, “That’s stupid! Rocket Raccoon is a joke!” We really kind of had a chip on our shoulders and we said. “Okay, we are going to show everybody how cool these characters are.” We had an “us against the world” mentality. We [would] have just been happy enough to see it take off.

Marvel.com: In addition to making these characters cool, GUARDIANS is also impressive for how deep and complex the stories go to the point where it greatly benefits from repeated readings.

Bill Rosemann: That was our goal. We wanted to use our team as a point-of-view for Marvel readers and once you were with them and related to them as people, then you can follow them throughout the cosmos and slowly start seeing more and more, and they are your tour guides of the Marvel Cosmic Universe. Through them, keeping them grounded and relatable, you can start experiencing more and more craziness, but you feel okay because you’re with your friends, you know them and you care about them, and through their eyes you can then travel through the rest of Marvel Cosmic.

Then going forward, our goals were to just keep going through the Handbook and keep bringing back things. That was our goal with bringing back the original Guardians, really focusing on Adam Warlock, bringing Magus back, bringing back the Church of Universal Truth, introducing characters like the Matriarch and Cardinal Raker.

Also in our next event, War of Kings, we asked ourselves who else could we bring back? So we brought back Darkhawk and really expanded his backstory and revealed that he was part of the Raptors and kind of kept thinking to ourselves, as we do with the Guardians, “There are so many characters that they don’t know they like yet. They need a dusting, really dust them off, study them, really respect their core but add a little modernization to them and figure out how to make a character from the 80s or 90s. How do you make them, in true sci-fi fashion, accessible to today’s audience?” That was our goal, to see how many toys we could bring back and add to the toy box.

Marvel.com: I’d say you succeeded in everything you set out to do. How does it feel to have created a team that works in every medium from comics and cartoons to the big screen and even video games?

Bill Rosemann: Well, I feel very grateful first for my bosses Joe Quesada, Tom Brevoort, and Dan Buckley, first for asking me to come back to Marvel and trusting me with Marvel Cosmic. At the time I felt that, you know, I was married, and I think my wife was pregnant at the time so I felt like there was a huge weight on my shoulders. So I just felt like, this must succeed, they gave me this great responsibility, for the sake of my career, for the sake of my family, and just for all the creators who came and worked on these characters and for the Marvel fans, I just felt that we have to pour everything into this to make this work. So I’m grateful that they gave me this responsibility.

I’m grateful for all the awesome work from the creators. They are the ones that, day-in and day-out started from blank pages, lists and ideas and had to make it all work. I’m also grateful for all the readers. We never had a huge following, but it was loyal. Every issue there were about 35,000 fans who read every issue of NOVA and GUARDIANS and every issue of every [limited series] that was a part of all of our events. They helped spread the word and they were there along for the ride and never went away, and without them the books would’ve never even existed; there would be no film without those loyal readers.

I’m grateful that the people in Marvel Studios that were taking in our weekly bundle of comic books read them and picked up GUARDIANS and saw something there and then brought all their great talents. I loved that they honored that when they chose to do a Guardians movie, that they picked our Guardians and that they were so faithful to the core material, that the things we saw in our comics were apparent on screen. They got it, they knew, a small handful of people at Marvel knew, that if you just gave these characters the right platform, and showed them to the world, that the world would love them. They just needed the right talent and the right spotlight.

I feel very grateful, very honored. It’s still exciting because, you know, I’m still the kid who read the ROCKET RACCOON [comic] and loved it and then got to bring it back and work with him for five years in comics and now I work with these characters in video games and see these characters go from the printed page, to the silver screen, to my TV screen, to now being in huge triple A console games. So it’s just very, very exciting.

Marvel.com: One last question: What do you think it is about this group that makes them work so well in a variety of mediums?

Bill Rosemann: We are so lucky to have this level of talent from the comics, to the cartoon, to the films, to now the video games, everyone understands and respects what the Guardians are about and at its heart it’s about family. Each member of the Guardians think that they have no family. They’ve either been kidnapped, their families have been killed, their planets have been destroyed, they are the last ones left and that is an intentional tribute to the original Guardians of the 1970s. They were all the last surviving members of their planet.

We did a modern version of that, and everyone understood that this team, they feel all alone, that they have no family, but they look around, at these other misfits that they are with and they say, “You’re my new family, and it may be the universe against us, but you have my back, I have yours, we are gonna form a new family, and not only will we save the universe, but we will do everything in our power, to preserve and protect our new family.”

That’s why, even though one is a raccoon and one is a tree and one is completely green, that is why the whole world gets them and loves them, because everyone can relate to the idea of being in a family or losing a family, or forming a new family. That is why the Guardians continue to be more popular than ever.

Want even more behind-the-scenes Guardians goodness? Come back later this week for an exclusive interview with writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning about creating this sensational team!

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The floral colossus confronts his past and fights for the future!

Celebrate this incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy’s tenth anniversary while also prepping for the May 5 release of their new film with these gems from Marvel Unlimited!

Everyone loves Groot. Whether he’s blasting away bad guys with his Guardians pals or dancing in a coffee mug, only the coldest of hearts refuse to melt for this benevolent warrior. So it came as no surprise when the Flora colossi scored his own series in 2015. Written by Jeff Loveness and drawn by Brian Kesinger, the six issue run featured Groot doing everything in his power to save his pal Rocket from the clutches of the evil space pirate Eris.

In issues #25, Groot remembered meeting his raccoon-like friend in a prison, then met up with Silver Surfer and his companion Dawn, saved a planet from a cosmic storm and befriended a new group of friends including three inept Skrulls, a 90s-created robot named Mantron, and Numinus, the cosmic embodiment of chance and fate. Even without the toughest folks backing him, Groot still inspired confidence in this crew to take on Eris and save Rocket!

Groot (2015) #1

Groot (2015) #1

  • Published: June 03, 2015
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: December 07, 2015
  • Rating: Rated T
  • Writer: Jeff Loveness
  • Cover Artist: Declan Shalvey
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With that whole mess cleaned up, Rocket finally agreed to take Groot to Earth. After marking some things off of a To Do list recommended by fellow Guardians, they got down to the real business of the trip: finding an acquaintance of Groot’s. As we discover through a mental conversation between our hero and young Jean Grey, once upon a time the people of Planet X started abducting people to study. Groot knew this was wrong and helped a young girl named Hannah escape. He succeeded, but soon found himself banished from his home leading him down the path to eventually hook up with the Guardians of the Galaxy!

The series closed with Groot sitting with Hannah and a beautiful message about friendship: “Because of her, I learned the greatest truth I know. One I live be every day…Life is not about the shadow you cast on your enemies…But the shade you provide to your friends.”

Transmissions from Knowhere

Groot first appeared in 1960’s TALES TO ASTONISH #13 and only showed up a few other times between that and ANNIHILATION CONQUEST: STAR-LORD. In MARVEL MONSTERS: MONSTERS ON THE PROWL, The Collector held Groot and a variety of other creatures in his secret Canadian facility before they broke out. Later, Groot again fell into captivity, this time by the supernatural-themed team in NICK FURY’S HOWLING COMMANDOES. Sometime between the end of that series—in which he helped defeat Merlin—and STAR-LORD #1, Groot became captured again for unspecified crimes against the Kree. Since then, he’s done a pretty good job of staying out of incarceration.

Next time, Groot and his new teammates test themselves in the fires of intergalactic war in the pages of ANNIHILATION: CONQUEST.

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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!

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After the Guardians break up, this dynamic duo discovers secrets of their past!

Celebrate this incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy’s tenth anniversary while also prepping for the May 5 release of their new film with these gems from Marvel Unlimited!

All break-ups are hard. No matter how you might feel at the time, losing an important person in your life due to unforeseen circumstances can leave a person wondering about their choices in life. Rocket Raccoon fell pretty hard after the Guardians of the Galaxy broke up, as can be seen in the back-up stories in ANNIHILATORS by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Timothy Green II.

As the story kicked off, Rocket tried keeping himself busy by working as a mail person for the intergalactic corporation called Timely Inc. Being a one-time Guardian, though, his life could not stay boring for long and he soon found himself batting a clown made out of living wood from Planet X, otherwise known as Groot’s home!

Upon arriving, Rocket discovered that Groot had been punished by his people for claiming to be king of Planet X. After a rescue mission, the reunited pals joined up with a group called the Undergrowth Resistance that wanted slightly better treatment from the trees.

With that problem taken care of, the pair followed the clown trail to Halfworld, Rocket’s home planet. While there, he and Groot discovered the place actually existed as a lunatic asylum that Rocket used to work for as head of security. While there, a patient by the name of Star-Thief broke out and the former Guardian had to get back to his old gig to regain control!

The duo returned in ANNIHILATORS: EARTHFALL by the same creative team. In that story, Rocket and Groot ventured into a series of wild locales that didn’t make much sense until they realized Mojo had been pulling their strings. At the end, they walk away not only victorious, but potentially very wealthy thanks to the deal they struck to capitalize not only on their newly-launched show, but also the action figure tie-ins!

As it happens, these two Rocket and Groot stories would act as the finale to their run before Brian Michael Bendis took the space reins!

Transmissions from Knowhere

As mentioned above, these stories came as back-ups in the pages of two limited series called ANNIHILATORS and ANNIHILATORS: EARTHFALL written by Andy Lanning and Dan Abnett with art by Tan Eng Huat that spin out of the THANOS IMPERATIVE: DEVASTATION one-shot. In that issue, Cosmo attempted to get Gladiator, Quasar, Silver Surfer, Ronan, Beta Rey Bill, and Gladiator to form a team of galactic defenders. The idea came from Peter Quill who asked the Space Dog to make it happen if he didn’t make it back from the Cancerverse. Joined by the Space Knight Ikon, the group fought the Dire Wraiths in the first volume and the Universal Church of Truth on Earth who had resurrected Adam Magus as a child in the second.

Next, Brian Michael Bendis makes the cosmos safe again in the pages of AVENGERS ASSEMBLE and a new GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY series!

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The famed Guardian of the Galaxy started out very different in his first appearance!

With so many classic creatures on the loose in Monsters Unleashed, we turn to their earlier adventures thanks to Marvel Unlimited.

It might surprise Guardians of the Galaxy fans to know that Groot first appeared as a monstrous menace in the pages of TALES TO ASTONISH #13. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby debuted the beast in a 1960 issue which found the denizen of Planet X rampaging through a small town.

One brave man, Leslie Evans, stood in Groot’s way much to the surprise of his fellow townspeople. Earlier that night, he and his date Alice were headed home after a party when they saw the creature zap down to Earth. She wanted to go home, so he agreed and got absorbed in his work as a biologist for the next few days.

After trees and other wooden objects started going missing, Evans remembered the close encounter and headed into the woods where he soon discovered Groot absorbing the missing implements into his body! Groot then made his presence known to the wider population of the town and explained his purpose: “I am Groot, monarch of Planet X!” he bellowed. “I come to take an Earth village—your village, back to my planet! We want to study you, to experiment on you!”

Tales to Astonish (1959) #13

Tales to Astonish (1959) #13

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He explained in further detail that he would command the trees to make a perimeter around the town, then connect roots and fly off into space back to Planet X. As Groot went about implementing his plan, Evans raced to his lab and worked tirelessly on something that would stop the invader. What could fell such a powerful being? Why specially bred termites of course!

This more monstrous version of Groot appeared alongside Goom, Diablo, Blip, Xemnu, and Taboo to fight The Hulk in the pages of INCREDIBLE HULK ANNUAL #5.

As you’ve probably figured out, the Groot seen here has been distanced from the being who first met up with Star-Lord and Rocket Raccoon in the pages of ANNIHILATION CONQUEST – STAR-LORD. The original Groot was simply another denizen of Planet X while the one who became a founding member of the Guardians of the Galaxy proved a more rebellious youth who wanted to help others instead of kidnapping them and researching them like that first example who visited Earth.

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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

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!

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Brian Michael Bendis wraps his time with the interstellar super team by stranding them on Earth!

As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Brian Michael Bendis knows this better than anyone after opening and closing his fair share of comic series over the years. His latest soon-to-end run will kick off with GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #15 in a story called “Grounded” this December.

Thanks to a call for help from Captain Marvel, the Guardians traveled to Earth in an effort to help out, but with the Civil War II conflict coming to an end, they’re left with a problem: they’ve got no way off this green and blue rock. Luckily for the various members, they have new ongoing series ready to launch, but before the squad goes their separate ways, Bendis and artist Valerio Schiti plan on giving them an appropriately epic sendoff.

We talked with Bendis about his plans for going out in style.

Marvel.com: With Civil War II coming to a close, how do the Guardians feels about getting involved in this conflict?

Brian Michael Bendis: Conflicted. Like everyone else in the Marvel Universe. Sides are drawn. Everyone came back to Earth as a favor to Carol, but when they got here they were faced with the moral choice. Some, like Peter, see Carol’s hard choices as big truths that need to happen and others see Tony’s side totally.

And in the battle they lost their ship and now have no way home. Yes, there are spaceships on Earth—at least three—but they aren’t for sale and nowhere near as advanced as the one Rocket put together for them.

Marvel.com: What does being stuck on Earth mean for the Guardians themselves? I’m guessing some won’t take kindly to be being in just one place for a long period of time.

Brian Michael Bendis: Some get to go have their favorite pizza and reunite with old friends and maybe even call it a night for their Guardians tour of duty. Peter gets to see what life would be like as an Earthbound super hero. Kitty gets to go find the X-Men…

And then there is Rocket and Groot. That is an entirely different story.

Marvel.com: On the other hand, the readers might enjoy seeing these space-bound characters interacting with a few familiar faces. Were there some specific characters you’d been just waiting to meet the Guardians?

Brian Michael Bendis: Yes. I do want those to be a page turn surprise so you’ll pardon my vagueness, but it does give us a lot of “Star Trek IV” stuck-on-Earth-fun. They are almost all fish out of water and those who aren’t, like Venom, have changed so much from their travels that it’s a whole new world to them.

Marvel.com: This arc will also lead into solo ongoing series for the members of the team. What has the communication been like between you and the writers of those books?

Brian Michael Bendis: This is where Jordan [White] and the other editors shine. Other than the friendship-ending disagreements between me, Chip [Zdarsky] and Kris Anka over Peter Quill’s facial hair, the writers seem to get a big kick out of classic fish out of water stories for their characters.

When you’re writing a team book and a franchise book part of the fun is throwing out ideas and story concepts for other writers to pick up and play with if they see fit.

Marvel.com: How do you feel about the place you’ll be leaving these characters with this last arc after shepherding them along for several years?

Brian Michael Bendis: Well, even though we are ending most of the last arc on Earth we are still leaving big. Big! First of all, as some readers already know, Thanos is on Earth. When Gamora and Drax get ahold of this information all hell is going to break loose. We have an issue about Groot that is all told in a style that is a big tip of the cat hat to Dr. Seuss, one of those ideas that is much harder to pull off than you might think.

And a big triple or quadruple sized 100-page big finale that is going to wrap up my very long, longest actually, run on Guardians. A lot is going to happen.

All this plus, Ben Grimm comes back home; we discover why he went out to space in the first place and why he is going to stay on Earth. It ties right into INFAMOUS IRON MAN.

Witness the beginning of the end of Brian Michael Bendis’ run on GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY starting with #15 drawn by Valerio Schiti in December!

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Corinne Duyvis discusses her upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy prose novel!

What do young adult science fiction and Marvel Comics have in common? That would be author Corinne Duyvis, writer of acclaimed YA books like “Otherbound” and “On the Edge of Gone.”

Now, Corinne brings her experienced hand to writing an original prose novel for Marvel, “Guardians of the Galaxy: Collect Them All.” While we don’t know too much about the finer plot details right now, we do know that less-than-savory individuals have gotten their hands on a piece of Groot for their own nefarious planting purposes. As a result, the Guardians must become wary allies with Taneleer Tivan, The Collector, to stop a galaxy-wide conspiracy.

We spoke with Duyvis—who couldn’t be more excited for her Marvel team-up—about the highly anticipated novel, her love of sci-fi and favorite member of the Guardians team…

Marvel.com: How did you end up working on a prose novel for Marvel?

Corrine Duyvis: How I ended up wanting to do it is pretty straightforward: I write my own original prose novels, and I’m a long-time Marvel reader. Over the past years, whenever announcements of the prose novels they’ve been putting out came across my screen, I would go, “Hmmmm. How…intriguing.” Imagine me rubbing a non-existent beard [or] twirling a non-existent mustache. I talked to my fabulous literary agent about it, and she was totally open to the idea. She spent some time asking around and keeping her ears open for opportunities, and here we are!

Marvel.com: You’ve had experience writing science fiction—especially for young adults—in the past as evidenced by your first two books, “Otherbound” and “On the Edge of Gone.” Going off that, what draws you to the genre in general?

Corrine Duyvis: I’ve always loved fantasy and sci-fi. Novels, comic books, animation, movies, TV series, games—the works. I’ve been all over this stuff since I was a kid, and while originally it might’ve been because I got drawn to all the pretty explosions and cool magic, it’s definitely developed into something deeper over the years. One thing I love is that there are no real limits. Whether it’s comparatively minor, street-level fantasy elements, or mind-blowing cosmic-level stories—your imagination is the limit, as they say. So much of writing comes down to asking the question “what if?” and you can take that awfully far in the genre. The other part that draws me to the genre is that the above flexibility means you have a lot of room to explore characters and themes. I wanted to talk about which lives are valued most; that worked perfectly in an apocalypse-centric novel where people have to make difficult choices about who gets to survive on a generation ship and who has to stay behind on the planet. I wanted to talk about identity; isn’t a great way to do that by writing about a boy who sees through the eyes of a girl in another world every single time he blinks? All sorts of human conflicts, whether individual or societal, can be explored in speculative fiction in fascinating ways—sometimes abstract, sometimes head-on—and I love all the directions you can take that into.

Marvel.com: Similarly, how did your fondness and prior experience with sci-fi translate into your take on the Guardians of the Galaxy? In addition, how will your version of the Guardians be different from previous iterations of the team?

Corrine Duyvis: Although my Guardians of the Galaxy novel has a very different vibe and style than my personal work, I still bring the same kinds of questions to it that I normally ask. I’m always interested in exploring identity, for instance. What makes us who we are? Which choices, experiences, or inherent traits are responsible for our identity? What kinds of events could change who we are, or what our version of normal is? Asking these questions in a sci-fi setting like that of Marvel’s is great fun—I get to use the tropes of the genre, play with questions I have about the characters, and more. My version of the Guardians is a bit of a mishmash of the versions I’ve seen across film, cartoon, and obviously the comics themselves. As is usually the case with long-running super heroes, each writer has their own take on the characters, so they can differ a lot depending on the creators, medium, or time period. There isn’t any “One True Version.” This is oddly freeing as a writer. It doesn’t mean I get to simply ignore everything and use my own approach—I wouldn’t want to; I love the source material!—but it certainly offered more flexibility. I’ve mostly used a combination of elements that will be accessible to readers and elements that appealed to me as a writer, while trying to stay true to the characters as I understood them.

Marvel.com: Groot is a huge part of the story here. Without giving too much away, why was he chosen as the cause of the main conflict and do we learn anything new about him from it?

Corrine Duyvis: The first thing I did when the possibility of writing the Guardians came up was re-watch the film—which is hardly a chore!—to jog my memory and slip into the world before I branched out further into the comics. It ended up doing a whole lot more than that. It gave me the inspiration for a big part of the book, since by the end of the film, I wondered: Hey, what’s to stop someone else from planting one of those Groot shards? What’s to stop them from planting a whole bunch? So why was he chosen? One, he’s great. Who doesn’t love Groot? Two, there was a promising opportunity for a story there. I leaped on it right away. Lots of other parts slotted into place naturally after that. We’ll learn not only what happens physically when he’s planted en masse, but also how it affects him on a more personal level.

Marvel.com: Who would you say is your favorite Guardians member and why?

Corrine Duyvis: It will come as no surprise to anyone that I love Rocket—both the hilarious parts and the sadder parts that a lot of writers have highlighted in different ways. He’s such a great character, and his interactions with Groot are always a highlight. I also found it really interesting to get into Gamora’s head for the book. She’s often so closed-off that it’s not exactly easy to figure out what’s going on with her on a personal level, but since she’s one of the major players of the novel, I really had to figure out what drove her. It gave me a huge appreciation for her as a character to both write and read about.

Look for “Guardians of the Galaxy: Collect Them All” in 2017!

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The artist talks about how his leads deal with Civil War II and shows off exclusive inks!

Earth might plunge into war every now and then, but what’s it to a pair of space-hopping pals like Rocket and Groot? Not much until none other than Captain Marvel calls on them for a little help.

Writer Nick Kocher and artist Michael Walsh just took over ROCKET RACCOON AND GROOT with issue #7 and already face a huge challenge: bringing the best buds in the galaxy into the fray of Civil War II. Of course, being the mercenary-minded sentients we know and love, they don’t quite feel the need to get tangled up in human affairs. Still, as Walsh explains, when a certain hero asks, you kind of have to listen. But which side will they ultimately fall on, if any?

We talk to Walsh about balancing comedy and action, working with Kocher, and designing Rocket and Groot in his own style.

Marvel.com: You and Nick kicked off a whole new arc together on this book with issue #7. How has it been putting your own stamp on these characters and moving them into Civil War II?

Michael Walsh: It’s been a blast and a bit of a challenge. Every take on them has been so unique, I just really wanted to leave my fingerprint on this world. There is a definite balancing act when trying to make them look like a raccoon and a tree but still emoting and speaking like humans.

Moving them into Civil War II has been really fun. It’s such a serious—and great—event that throwing in some absolutely zany action and comedy into a pretty serious clash of super heroes has the little mischievous kid in me giggling. Also, I’ve learned that I love drawing the Inhuman Medusa, so there is that.

Marvel.com: Speaking of Civil War II, what does the conflict do to the title team’s partnership?

Michael Walsh: These two dudes are actually actively trying to stay away from the conflict. As usual, they are more interested in misadventure and their own problems than getting wrapped up in the politics of the core Marvel Universe, but that doesn’t really matter when Captain Marvel is trying to drag them into the fold.

Marvel.com: What attracts you to the world of Rocket and Groot?

Michael Walsh: The sense of fun and adventure is really refreshing to me. For a while comics were pretty grim [and] dark and I enjoyed that stage but now we get to have all these genres and styles and atmospheres. Getting to draw characters having fun and being crazy is a nice change of pace. It’s great to mix it up once in a while and flex all kinds of artistic muscles.

And honestly these two characters are just so fun to draw; Groot I kind of felt at peace with right away but Rocket took me a little bit to find the feel for. Once I did he has become one of my favorite characters to draw.

Marvel.com: It sounds like you enjoy balancing huge action scenes with comedy bits from panel to panel.

Michael Walsh: Yes, it’s great. In this one I get to incorporate little comedy beats into the action as well which is always challenging yet rewarding. I can really play up the dynamism and get experimental with panel layouts and really just have fun. Having Gwenpool enter the fold makes it even wackier; we got to do a bit of a motorcycle chase which I haven’t done before so It was a good experience figuring that out and trying to express speed and motion in a static medium.

But really, action and comedy are two sides of the same coin. As an artist you are trying to build around the most important beat on the page, the punchline. Sometimes you want to hit it subtly while others you want to go huge. A giant punch to the gut smashing a guy through a window or a hilarious one liner can have a really similar build up if you look at the details.

Marvel.com: Nick’s pretty new to the world of comics. How has it been working with him so far?

Michael Walsh: Nick is a natural. His scripts are fantastic. I find myself laughing out loud constantly while reading. He has a sense of how much can fit on a page and is really well versed in the history of Marvel. He also has a really distinct voice which I always appreciate from a writer. I don’t think anyone could write this book like he did which is a huge compliment.  He’s been really open about when he was unsure of the pacing on a page and we’ve been able to lean on each other to get the best book possible on the stands.

Besides being a hell of a writer he’s a really nice guy too, we get on quite well which I find is important when getting invested in a collaboration. I’ve loved our four issues together and am really hoping to work with him again in the future.

Marvel’s best buds continue their adventures in the pages of ROCKET RACCOON AND GROOT thanks to Nick Kocher and Michael Walsh, with issue #8 coming August 31!

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