Marvel fans only got a single Guardians of the Galaxy movie to fall in love with Baby Groot before the angst of adolescence hit in The Avengers: Infinity War. But in the newest comics, Groot is already on to the next mandatory stage of growing up: he's gone full punk rock.
We can't say for sure what story Guardians of the Galaxy 3 will tell, or how closely it will stick to Groot's originally planned ascent from a small twig belonging to its father, Groot, through infancy and adolescence to young adulthood. Or just as importantly, if Groot would have learned to speak in the MCU as he did in the pages of Marvel Comics. Either way, the past few years of drama in the comics have left their mark on the 'walking tree.' And he's going punk to prove it.
While the movie version of the Guardians was flying high at the box office, the versions of Star-Lord, Groot, and Gamora were going through some intense drama, eventually splitting up on missions of their own (along with their comic being canceled). But things looked bright when Marvel announced their plans for a rebooted Guardians of the Galaxy. Sadly... the old team had to die first.
As Marvel fans who read the recent Infinity Wars event know, Drax gave his life to save the universe, and died a hero's death. That's the kind of loss that the Guardians on Peter Quill's crew could've probably gotten through together... had it not been Gamora who killed Thanos to start the entire devastating event. Oh, and then killed Star-Lord too until Doctor Strange used his Time Stone to rewind and spare his life. Needless to say, when the dust settled, the version of the Guardians that fans had known for years was gone--and would've been gone if Drax had lived, too.
That's where the rebooted comic eries comes in, assembling a brand new team of Guardians of the Galaxy filled with new cosmic favorites like Beta Ray Bill, Cosmic Ghost Rider, and more. The original duo of Star-Lord and Groot remain, however, but the emotional and mental toll of what they have endured is quite literally the first thing made clear by the creative team of Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw. Star-Lord is turning to alcohol, while Groot has turned to body modification, whittling his body into a spiked mohawk with 'sharp' accents everywhere else. He's also using his ability to speak on choice words for the one friend he's got left.
Guardians of the Galaxy #1 does offer an explanation for Groot's angrier, literally prickly demeanor. Or, at least a hint of one, when the absence of Rocket Raccoon is brought up by a Nova Corps officer--and is soon dismissed by both Star-Lord and Groot. Just so fans can relax, Rocket Raccoon survived the Infinity Wars ordeal alongside Peter Quill and Groot, so his absence is meant to be noticed (and will almost certainly be addressed in this series before long). It's a mystery that is hard to solve at present, since unlike the movie, the deaths of the recent comic book Infinity War weren't all Rocket Raccoon's fault.
The friendship of Rocket and Groot is famous, so it makes sense that if Rocket were to break that bond, Groot would descend into angst and brooding. The only real question is whether Groot's slide into a more hostile attitude is the result of Rocket leaving... or one of the reasons the Raccoon left in the first place.
Guardians of the Galaxy #1 is available now at your local comic ship, and directly from Marvel Comics.