If you were like us, and fell in love with the anthropomorphic otter from Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3, you might be wondering about her comics history. Well, the Lady Lylla is indeed a character from the comics, and made less than 10 appearances overall. However, Lylla remains a crucial part of Rocket’s backstory, something that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 explored. In the movie, MCU vet Linda Cardellini played Lylla. Here’s the lowdown on the Marvel Comics history of Rocket’s one true love.
Lady Lylla, Marvel Otter and Toy Empire C.E.O.
Lylla first appeared back in 1982’s The Incredible Hulk #271, which was only the second appearance of Rocket Raccoon. In those early Marvel appearances, Lylla was the otter heir to an enormous intergalactic toy company, Mayhem Mekaniks, on the planet Halfworld. They named the planet that due to it being half industrial, half natural. Think “half Coruscant/ half Dagobah,” to use Star Wars terminology.
Once, the planet was a giant asylum, where robot caretakers looked after the patients. The robot caretakers eventually became sentient and experimented on the patient’s animal companions in an effort to evolve them. Eventually, Marvel’s Halfworld became a planet occupied entirely by anthropomorphic animals, similar to what we saw with Lylla the otter in the Guardians 3 trailer. We have a feeling James Gunn is fusing Halfworld with Counter-Earth, another similar Marvel Comics concept from the same era.
Meeting Her Soulmate
Eventually, a hostile takeover over Mayhem Mekaniks occurred, by the malevolent half-man/half-mole Judson Jakes, and Lylla’s parents were murdered. She needed help, and she received it from our favorite swashbuckling “trash panda.” Although Lylla regained control of Mayhem Mekaniks after that, the other fell in love with Marvel’s Rocket. The two went on to become a couple. They went off into the galaxy to have adventures together, getting a “happily ever after” style ending.
Rocket the Raccoon and Lylla the Otter’s Marvel Reunion
There were many years between these adventures, which took place in the four-part Rocket Raccoon series, and Rocket’s return to the Marvel Universe in the ongoing Guardians of the Galaxy comics. In those comics, we learned that Rocket and Lylla split up before he became partners with Groot and joined the Guardians of the Galaxy. However, Rocket and Lylla reunited in 2011’s Annihilators #4.
There, Rocket learned that his former love had married an anthropomorphic rabbit named Blackjack O’Hare. Ultimately, Rocket accepted that Lylla had moved on, and the two parted ways, as Rocket continued his adventures with the Guardians. In fact, Rocket discovered that many of the memories he had of his otter girlfriend Lady Lylla were implanted, putting into doubt whether they were really soulmates after all. It’s now been a decade since Lady Lylla appeared in a Marvel comic, the previously mentioned Annihilators #4.
The MCU’s Lylla the Otter in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
In the MCU, James Gunn heavily revised the Marvel Comics backstory of Lylla for the MCU version of the otter. While she Rocket do have a history together, all that Halfworld and giant toy empire portions were jettisoned. Instead, both Lylla and Rocket Raccoon were subjects of the High Evolutionary’s experiments and formed a bond as test subjects in his laboratory.
Before the film even came out, James Gunn shared that in his past, Rocket was caged alongside several other animals, including Lylla the otter, Teefs the walrus (Asim Chaudhry), and Floor the rabbit (Mikaela Hoover). The group of them was trapped together in the High Evolutionary’s lab. Gunn noted that they are all best friends who dream of seeing the world beyond their captivity. He also shared some adorable test footage of the MCU’s Lylla coming to life in all her otter glory.
Lylla and the rest of Rockets’ friends’ experiences were some of the most memorable and heartbreaking parts of Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3, giving the film much of its emotional core. The movie would not have been the same without Lylla’s presence. Although Lylla was only present in the MCU for a short time, we know in both the Marvel cinematic and comic worlds there is always a possibility of return. Hopefully, we will see Lylla again in some fashion.
Originally published in April 2023.