Tales to Astonish #13 (November, 1960) marked Groot’s official debut into the Marvel Universe. The issue included other stories titled ‘I Found the Abominable Snowman!’, ‘My Friend is Not Quite Human!’, and ‘I Found the Hidden World!’, but the highlight was ‘I Challenged Groot! the Monster from Planet X.’ Marvel’s official synopsis is as follows:
“In the Autumn of 1960, scientist Leslie Evans and wife Alice witnessed a blinding object falling from the sky. When Evans went to investigate the next day, he not only found the object, but discovered it was alive. Evans looked on as the alien creature, Groot, grew larger by the minute as he absorbed wooden objects into his own body. There in the woods, Groot announced his presence to the nearby community. Claiming to be the Monarch of Planet X, Groot announced that he had come to Earth to take a small Terran town back to his homeworld for its scientists to study. While the humans resisted, no gunfire, or even conventional fire could penetrate Groot’s hide. Seeing the futility of trying to fight Groot directly, Evans abandoned the townspeople and raced back to his laboratory, for which he was labeled a coward.
Over the next three days, Groot used his ability to control trees and plants to turn the forest into a make-shift army. His announced intention was to use Earth’s native vegetation to create a net of roots to allow him to lift the town into space whole. When Groot entered the town, Evans snuck up behind him and unleashed the fruits of his frantic work: a specially bred colony of termites. The insects voraciously ate through Groot’s hide, and into his core. Groot collapsed in a a state of shock, and was believed dead by the townsfolk.”
I don’t know what was going through Stan Lee’s mind at the time. I’m sure no one expected Groot to amount to much after that first outing, considering his really lame weakness, but I think we can all be thankful for his eventual re-branding in 2005 for Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos.
To be perfectly honest, I much prefer Groot when he is only able to say “I am Groot!” The whole “Who dares to defy me?” attitude is too Hulkish for my taste. And I love Hulk. But maybe he would’ve been more terrifying if he couldn’t speak at all, or in a language no one could understand. But who am I kidding? As silly as it all is, it sounds like a hell of a lot of fun to read. I wish comics like this were still published.
Either way, this is how Groot entered the world, and I’m glad we can get a good laugh in because of it because, let’s be honest, how easy is it to take a walking, talking, sentient tree seriously in the first place?