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Abandoned Love: When Did Groot Start Saying, “I Am Groot”?

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Every installment of Abandoned Love we will be examining comic book stories, plots and ideas that were abandoned by a later writer without explaining that the previous story was retconned away. Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of Abandoned Love. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

The other day, I did an article about when Groot and Rocket Raccoon first became best friends in the comics. A couple of folks also wanted to know when, exactly, Groot started saying just, “I Am Groot.” So here, let’s take a look at when that change took place…

Groot first showed up in 1960’s Tales to Astonish #13, with art by Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers and a story by an unknown writer (I bet Larry Leiber)…

Notice how Groot talks like a pretty normal villain in the story?

Over fifteen years later, Len Wein, Chris Claremont, Sal Buscema and Jack Abel brought a DUPLICATE of Groot for the Hulk to fight in Incredible Hulk Annual #5. This was not the original Groot, but the fact that it spoke is a good sign that Groot speaks, too…


Thirty years later, in 2006, Keith Giffen and Derec Donovan had Groot show up among some captured “monsters” who, nevertheless, decide to help out Nick Fury’s “Howling Commandos”…



Note how Groot speaks normally here.

This series is quickly seen to be very important, as Giffen then brought the character over to his Starlord mini-series the following year where Starlord leads a sort of “Suicide Squad” of cosmic characters, including Groot…


Giffen writes Groot as an old school over-the-top villain, sort of like Doctor Doom, only stuck working with these lower life forms…



However, Groot has his own sense of honor, and he sacrifices himself for his teammates…



He returns, having saved himself by just condensing the size of his wood to fit his consciousness…



At the end of the mini-series, Starlod and the surviving members of his team (including a regrown Groot) look to chip in as heroes in Annihilation Conquest. Look on to see when “I Am Groot” began, but how long it took to lock in as just “I Am Groot!”

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Rereading Silver Age stuff now I notice how fond they were of using the word “mighty” as in the scientist’s reference to Groot’s power. It seems to be the go-to word of the age.

I think that you’ve missed this one by a bit, Brian. I think it was during Abnett and Lanning’s Guardians of the Galaxy series itself that Groot’s vocabulary underwent its contraction.

I don’t have my issues handy, but I think it was in the latter half of the series, perhaps around the War of Kings stuff. There is a scene with the Guardians (and some others?) working in a lab, and Groot is saying the same thing again and again, and one character wonders how another character (maybe Rocket?) is able to understand what Groot is saying, and the other character explains that although most people only hear, “I am Groot,” if one knows how to listen to him, there are subtle harmonics that convey all kinds of information.

If I can, I’ll try to dig up a specific reference, unless you beat me to it.

Or I just imagined all this. . . .

Me, again.

Check Guardians of the Galaxy # 17. It’s Maximus (the Formerly Mad?) who explains it. The question is whether or not Groot’s vocabulary has been reduced to exclusively “I am Groot” by this time and afterwards, which I think that it has, of whether he still slipping in other expressions.

I’ll try to dig more when I have time.

Interesting. So that was what, 2008?

interesting always wondered if maybe since he talked in his early days fully when he first showed up . if groot could ever say anything to go with just i am groot.

Bit of an arithmetic issue… You say the first Groot story was in 1960, the Hulk annual was “over fifteen years later” (i.e. after 1975), and the Howling Commandos thing was “twenty years later” in 2006. There’s a decade missing there. I looked up Hulk Annual #5 and it was from 1976, so the second reference should be “thirty years later,” not twenty.

I love that it sorta just happened. Seems like Abnett and Lanning started with a limited vocab for him and then thought “hey, you know what would be even more fun…?” and make the choice to limit his vocabulary further. And they just did it because…comics! No multi-part maxi series with fifteen crossovers and a universe ending threat calling upon Groot to valiantly save the entire Marvel U by making a deal with the devil to give up 99.9999% of his vocabulary.

Actually…that’s not half bad. Somebody get Bendis on this stat!!!

Is it just me or does Peter Quill look like James Woods in the panel above.

I’ll add that Groot appeared in 1997’s Sensational Spider-Man #-1, a “Flashback” issue where Uncle Ben and young Peter Parker meet Groot and a few other monsters on a fishing trip. Groot spoke in full sentences there as well. Although the whole issue turned out to be a dream, but still.

I think it’s worth noting the explanation as well Brian, because it’s actually pretty decent.

According to DnA, Groot was a young member of his species. As he matured, his vocal cords stiffened, and he gradually lost the ability to speak until they were JUST flexible enough to only say “I am Groot.” As retcons go, the logic is pretty good.

Of course, since then it’s just been completely retconned to “this is all his entire species can say.”

Ooh! Vance Astrovik! Does that mean the actual Guardians were in comics as late as Annihilation?

No one going to mention Baytor?

@Messor: No, unfortunately. After Annihilation: Conquest, Star-Lord’s Guardians find Vance frozen in a block of ice in a scene that pays homage to the time the first Avengers team finds Captain America. Vance then joins Quill’s Guardians.

The team do later encounter various alternate dimension iterations of the GotG, but I don’t know if any of them were meant to be THE team that appeared in earlier comics. But Nikki, Yondu, Charlie, Martinex, Starhawk, and even Hollywood all make appearances. At one point they meet a Guardians team led by Killraven.

Check Guardians of the Galaxy # 17. It’s Maximus (the Formerly Mad?) who explains it. The question is whether or not Groot’s vocabulary has been reduced to exclusively “I am Groot” by this time and afterwards, which I think that it has, of whether he still slipping in other expressions.

I was working under the impression that it had not formalized as “I Am Groot” even after that mention in #17, because he says “Groot am…ow” in #25, but looking back at it, I guess “Ow” doesn’t really count as a break of the formula, does it? If not, then yes, you’re spot on. So I’ll edit that in there.

Holy *tik* Shrew! I completely forgot about ol’ Bug showing up in Guardians! Sporting a slick new *tik* helmet too!

Yeah, the inclusion of Bug was one of my favorite aspects of that group. I was sad that he didn’t stick around.

Even if Bug got a brief walk-on in a Guardians movie, that’d be huge. Heck, who would have expected to see Bereet in a movie?

Mormel – thanks, and D’Oh!

As I recall it, Abnett and Lanning’s Groot was more verbose until his second destruction in Annihilation: Conquest, and it was when he began to come back as mini-Groot that second time that he started saying “I am Groot” all the time. Even then, there is a scene where Mantis translates him as saying more than that. He gradually transitions to just saying “I am Groot” over the course of that series, which was a fine running joke that has now long outlasted itself (but shows no signs of changing, given the popularity of the movie).

You said “condensing the size of his wood.” Lol

(I’m sorry, that was so immature but I couldn’t resist. Lol)

I love the onr cover where Jean Grey is able to know exactly what Groot’s “I am Groot” actually means.


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