In Review: Groo: Friends and Foes #12

One of the most enjoyable series created--ever. Highest possible recommendation.

The cover: Kayli and Rufferto can only watch as Groo pulls his swords and goes running at all his co-stars that have appeared with him in the previous eleven issues of this series. All look dumbfounded by his actions — Wouldn’t they know better after all this time? Only Chakaal is unmoved, because she knows the wanderer could never beat her. A terrific final cover to this series by Sergio Aragones and Tom Luth which highlights the little girl who’s been searching for her father all this time. Overall grade: A

The story: The last issue of this series begins in the most dramatic way. The Minstrel is locked in prison by a king who has ruled that all music is a crime. He sings of the events that brought him to his current state, including how and why he turned to his profession. It’s a very sad tale, and very untypical of Groo comics, yet Sergio Aragones and wordsmith Mark Evanier continue the sad story with Kayli, having only recently learned her father is the imprisoned Minstrel, has run to Groo to get his assistance, but he lies dead on the floor of an eatery, poisoned by the same evil king. The owner of the establishment wants to move the corpse, but dotty dog Rufferto will allow no one to touch his master. Distraught, Kayli runs off to try and stop the execution of her father. As she leaves she passes Weaver and Scribe who overhear that Groo is dead. With joy on his face, Weaver says to his partner, “Do you realize what this means for us? I can file a big, important news story about it! That will bring me fame and riches!” Kayli overhears him and thinks, ‘Those men are of no help! They only make things worse!’ A nice bit of commentary on the news media from Aragones and Evanier as the young girl seeks helps from others of the Groo Universe. Worry not, readers, this is a funny book to read. Naturally, reports of Groo’s death have been greatly exaggerated; though one by one, each character who’s shared the spotlight with Groo in this series journey to see if his passing is true. Half the fun of this story is each character’s reaction to his death and the other half being the “return” of Groo. I was wondering how he would be revived, and curses on me for not remembering the one thing that would bring him back. The last page of the book is the happiest ending I’ve ever come across in a Groo book or series, and darned if it doesn’t continue to make my heart flutter in joy in reading it. A perfect ending. Overall grade: A+

The art: The visuals on this book by Sergio Aragones is a treasure trove of every major character that’s appeared in this series or the history of Groo. The first page starts in the same format that all issues of this series has, with the Minstrel singing to some listeners, but with him in prison Aragones has made this an extremely somber setting, with the singer’s companions looking quite frightful. Yet, even in this grim setting, details make the page sing: the top of the Minstrel’s instrument, the rats, the floor, the men, a candle — they are all wonderful. The effect his tale has upon the listeners is terrific on Page 3; even without the text readers would be able to realize the power of the Minstrel upon them. The joy on most of the characters’ faces learning of Groo’s demise shows their hearts to the readers, with the best being the individual and his crew at the bottom of Page 8. There are several skirmishes in this issue, and Aragones shows that he can draw some amazing fight scenes, such as on Pages 12 and 15. Aragones always includes a spectacular double-paged spread in his books and this book has a tremendous one on 18 and 19: armies are battling, Groo and Rufferto are fraying, musicians are playing, citizens are cowering, and all the supporting characters appear. It’s incredible (and if you listen closely to the page, you can hear Tom Luth crying). Even with this spectacular image, it’s the final page that wins me over. Each time I look at it the page gives me goosebumps of joy, even as I’m writing this review. For a series of illustrations to impact a reader so greatly is a thing of wonder. Thank you, Sergio! Overall grade: A+ 

The colors: On the first three pages of this book colorist Tom Luth gets to show a nice contrast of dark and light coloring: in the present (sent in the prison) the colors are dark and heartless, with only the colors of the Minstrel’s garb brightening the room, while his tale (set in the past) is full of bright colors to showcase how much better this time was. In the present, Luth uses colors to make the settings enviable, with beautiful blue skies and gorgeous green hills and fields. Even at night or inside castles, the colors are vivid; take at look at the amazing work Luth does with lighting around fire at the bottom of 8. The double-paged spread is a masterpiece, with every individual and item receiving its own unique, appropriate coloring. Readers should take note of how red is used to lead the eye to the right side of the illustration, focusing the reader on the antagonist’s response to the actions below. Truly, Luth does a sensational job on this book. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Stan Sakai creates Minstrel speak, dialogue and scene setting (the same font), sounds, yells, and the final two words of the series. His fonts are a perfect match for the visuals, with the Minstrel’s songs being song-like with their use of lower case font and the SLAPP! on Page 11 perfection. Overall grade: A+

The final line: I’d sing this book’s praises endlessly, were it not for my fear of attracting the title character’s attention. One of the most enjoyable series created–ever. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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