Failure to World-Build in I Am Groot 2

by Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, read on at your own risk!

World building is delicate business. Finding the right balance between teasing the audiences’ imagination and leaving them impatient for answers can trip up even the most skilled artist. My go-to example for successful world building is 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road. Director George Miller immediately throws the audience into the thick of an alien, hostile world, but it’s never confusing. Miller avoids confusion in two ways: first, he uses classic archetypes when constructing characters — Max Rockatansky is the silent hero, Immortan Joe is a mad king, the War Boys are his soldiers, etc. These archetypes are well-worn in fiction and require no further justification. Second, if something or someone is introduced that directly affects the plot and its utility in the world can’t be intuited by the audience, he explains it. Providing this concrete framework for the necessary elements of the film means many other details, like the infamous Crow Fishers, can go unexplained, teasing the audience and allowing their imaginations to run wild, without causing confusion.

I Am Groot 2 introduces many interesting and exciting characters and concepts, but fails to provide the necessary filter for readers to help them determine which of the colorful concepts are background noise and which are important. The result is an exhausting cacophony of images and voices, each commanding attention but none offering the necessary context.

Which is a shame, because the individual pieces are not unappealing. Buddy, the robot pug we met at the end of the first issue, is cute. The idea of enormous, gaping-mouthed slugs who demand coins from terrified villagers and feed the lucre into vending machines to satiate their endless appetite is intriguing. A giant vortex opening up in the sky and raining down the bones of dinosaurs and moose makes for a great visual gag with Buddy. But then I begin to wonder why the Administrator knows who Buddy is, and what Buddy’s role in the greater world could possibly be. I wonder why the giant slugs are using vending machines and who is keeping the machines stocked? And I wonder if any of this is important for me to care about, if it will play a larger role going forward, or if it’s just meant to act like the Crow Fishers in Fury Road and tease my imagination.

But I Am Groot 2 offers no direction, only more and more crazy, beautiful things to look at on every page.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

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One comment on “Failure to World-Build in I Am Groot 2

  1. Yeah, this explains everything wrong with this issue. THe worldbuilding really, really doesn’t come together, does it? Like the coins monsters are supposed to have some degree of connection to the village before, but when we get to them, they feel like a completely different, completely seperate thing.

    In fact, I feel the best description of this issue is it feels like a roleplaying game where every encounter is chosen by rolling on the random encounter table. WHich means you hvae a bunch of random elements on the table, but no connective tissue

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