Welcome to The Pull List, a weekly column where we check out a first issue of a new series and tell you whether or not to follow the comic based only on that. This week we’ll be taking a look at the first issue of the new on-going series that follows the tree creature who can only say his own name. It works out about how you’d expect.
The first, most difficult thing about doing a Groot solo series, and the issue that probably first comes to most people’s minds, is the fact that the only words he can speak are “I am Groot.” If you’d think that might pose an issue when trying to tell a narrative, you’d be correct.
The plot so far is thus: Groot decides that he wants to visit Earth, as he’s never really “been” to the planet, and he convinces Rocket to join him. The first issue, then, is basically a series of two to four page shorts as Groot and Rocket try to find a means of transportation.
Which is fine, it’s supposed to be a comedy. The problem is that most of the comedy comes from Rocket. This is partially because Rocket acts as translator for everything Groot is saying, but also partially because all of the other gags involving Groot come down to the same thing: he can only say one sentence.
That’s not to say that there aren’t some funny moments in this comic, at one point Groot and Rocket steal a life-pod from what is essentially a Superman origin story parody, and there’s also a pretty funny bit where they hitch a ride with some skrulls on their way to Earth who are attempting (and failing hilariously) to disguise themselves as humans. It’s just that none of this comedy revolves around our main character, so it’s hard to imagine how exactly the comic will continue delivering these chuckles.
One aspect of the comic that works very well is the artwork by Brian Kesinger. In the letters column at the end of the first issue, the editor, Devin Lewis, mentions that Kesinger was originally an animator at Disney Animation Studios, and it certainly shows. The look of the series is definitely on the “cartoony” side, but once you adjust to that, you really appreciate the expressiveness of the characters as they are depicted.
Realistically, I think the comic may have been better served if there were just less focus on dialogue-driven comedy, and more freedom to explore visual comedy. I’m hoping that they decide to continue in that direction – I think a Groot series that had no dialogue at all, with just Kesinger’s art could actually be quite entertaining.
Overall, though, while Groot had it’s moments, I have to say it wasn’t quite as good as I wish it had been. If you’re really pulling for it, or you really like Groot, you may want to give it a couple more issues to see how it develops, but if you’re just a fan of Guardians of the Galaxy you can skip this one.