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Guarding the Galaxy

Guarding the Galaxy: Rocket Raccoon & Groot

Brian Michael Bendis salutes the most offbeat buddy team in the universe!

Guardians of the Galaxy #3 cover by Steve McNiven

By Jim Beard

In the new, ongoing GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY series, writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Steve McNiven introduce a team of unlikely heroes who not only protect our solar system but the entirety of outer space.

To say the Guardians’ work’s cut out for them would be an understatement.

So what kind of person willingly tackles such a titanic task? What stripe of hero can rise to the challenge of a job that dwarfs that of the Avengers’ defense of the Earth alone? In anticipation of the release of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1, out March 27, we asked Bendis to define the characteristics of each member of the team and illuminate within them what it takes to be a Guardian.

In part four of our series, we look at Groot and Rocket Raccoon. An ambulatory plant being and an alien raccoon marksman, Groot and Rocket’s strong ties to each other make them a fighting duo to be reckoned with across the galaxy.

Marvel.com: Brian, let’s talk about the giant plant in the room, Groot. What’s he all about, in general?

Brian Michael Bendis: He and Rocket [Raccoon] are kind of like the R2-D2 and C-3PO of the Marvel Universe. I’m going to leave that up to the audience. They don’t even like when I say that. They really love each other and care about each other. I think that Groot is fiercely loyal, almost like a great puppy dog. He’s like Lassie. He’s got an amazing power set. I’m doing a story that’s all about him but he’s the one character that I think the more you pick at it, the less funny it is. I don’t want to push too hard. There’s a noble soul there, it’s almost like a samurai spirit in there that’s worth acknowledging.

Marvel.com: Why is he on the Guardians team? What’s his place there?

Guardians of the Galaxy #0.1 preview art by Steve McNiven

Brian Michael Bendis: I actually think he’s the secret weapon. I think he’s the one that people don’t understand how powerful he is and they don’t understand how his powers work. He’s the one that turns the tide when the team is down.

Marvel.com: Groot’s very different from the rest, being essentially vegetable matter; is he comfortable on the team?

Brian Michael Bendis: He clearly wants to be there. He clearly sees that this is the place. I know this because he once said to me, “I am Groot!” and that’s what he meant. [Laughs] He’s going to go where ever Rocket goes. You know we’re talking about a talking tree, right?

Marvel.com: Of course! Speaking of our furriest member, why is Rocket Raccoon on the team?

Brian Michael Bendis: He’s a one of a kind being. He is a mix between—this is a “Star Trek” reference—Bones, Spock and Scotty. All mixed into one character, if that makes sense. He is the smartest one with technology, he is the feistiest one. He is the voice of opposition when they’re putting a team together. He’s just trying to figure out if they’re doing the right thing or if Peter [Star-Lord] is doing the right thing. He seems to have no problem whacking people. He has no morality. He has a dark and interesting past. There’s a lot of secrets in his closet. There’s a lot of things about himself that he doesn’t know. We’re going to get to that right away.

Marvel.com: With all of that, then why isn’t he the leader?

Brian Michael Bendis: It’s Peter’s ship. [But] I believe Rocket will often ask himself that question. On a certain level, I think that Rocket thinks he might be.

Guardians of the Galaxy #1 cover by Steve McNiven

Marvel.com: Does he easily relate to the humanoid races of the galaxy?

Brian Michael Bendis: He is now aware that raccoons are like rodents on Earth. He’s coming to terms with this. We’ll be coming to Earth with him soon. He finds out that not only are raccoons like rodents on earth, he also seems to share their scavenger soul. It’s upsetting. “I’m not a raccoon! Oh, pizza!” [Laughs]

Brian Michael Bendis: When non-Earth races encounter him as a Guardian of the Galaxy, do they take him seriously or respect him? Do they not blink or not look twice?

Brian Michael Bendis: It takes a while. We joked a little bit about it in AVENGERS ASSEMBLE. There’s no one on Earth that looks at him and doesn’t go, “Oh, it’s a raccoon with a ray gun.” It’s just like the comic book buying audience. You either go, “Cool!” or “What the hell is that?” It’s his second impression that’s always the best one.

Marvel.com: Would it be fair to say that many people, after hearing the name “Rocket Raccoon,” think he’s a comedy character?

Brian Michael Bendis: It’s a character that is at first glance the most polarizing. People either go, “Cool, a raccoon with a ray gun,” or my wife is like, “You left Avengers to do what?” [Laughs]

Tomorrow, Brian talks Iron Man, and this March, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY begins!

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