In Review: Groo: Friends and Foes #2

Sergio Aragones's character continues to create laughs with exceptionally strong stories and artwork.

The cover: Once again, Groo arrives to greet people he knows, this time his grandmother (“Granny Groo”), and again no one wants to be around him. His name is known far and wide for causing chaos, so these gypsies are getting out of town as quickly as they can. Only Rufferto, his loyal dog, seems surprised at their welcome to the camp. Granny’s not running, but is instead making the universal gesture for a facepalm. Great cover by Sergio Aragones, who places wonderfully intricate details into the clothes of the gypsies and their wagons. Overall grade: A+

The story: A one page summary of Groo’s early life with Granny from the Minstrel, leads into the title character and his dog leaving the port where Captain Ahax’s ships are sinking. Even as he and dog travel through a forest, the fauna run in fear. The pair encounter a gypsy and her goat, with the woman looking to con the wanderer out of some kopins, until realizing that the man’s nose is very familiar. Once Groo starts speaking his identity is plain to the old woman who runs off to warn her village of the fighter’s approach. Before he arrives, Groo tells Rufferto of how he brought a pet home and things didn’t go well. This story by Sergio Aragones and wordsmith Mark Evanier has really funny results when he gets to the gypsy village. I like that Granny is away on business that establishes what kind of character she is. I got goodchuckle when Granny says to her boy, “No, Groo! I know this may be beyond your power but use a little common sense!” You know that’s never going to happen and things will end in disaster for everyone, save our hero. Page 15 has a nice bit of parallelism to show that everyone is at their wit’s end, and what’s done with Groo by Granny is really silly. The climax is pure Groo goofiness, which only goes to show that one should be true to themselves. Absolute fun. Overall grade: A+

The art: I’ve been enamored with Sergio Aragones’s art since my father was brave enough to buy me a Mad Magazine in the 1970s. Time and time again, Aragones is praised for the lavish detail he puts into his work, and the first three pages show why he should be praised. On the double-paged spread of 2 and 3 he could have put the focus on the sinking ships, but instead pulls his camera back to see the entire port, showing said ships, the construction of a new vessel, seagulls covering structures, and a crowded mountain trail that has people scrambling to get out of Groo’s way. I love the chickens and octopus in the bottom right corner. Aragones also is terrific with silent jokes, which show he’s still a master of the pantomime gag that Mad uses: the bit with Rufferto and the goat at the top of Page 5 is great. Every page has got something sensational on it: the creature on 8, the chaos on 9, the confrontation at the bottom of 10, the exit from 11, etc. You could go a year in several super hero books and not get the detail that Aragones provides in this one issue. Overall grade: A+ 

The colors: It’s so wonderful to read a comic with bright colors, unlike the dreaded moody books that bring one down with their somber stories and illustrations. Michael Atiyeh does a sensational job on this book as it never strays from the light. The opening page is wonderful introduction through colors, with the yellow scroll matching the yellow of the Minstrel’s costume. The greens and blues on the same page set a nice peaceful tone for the book. I just feel uplifted looking at the art with these bright colors. And it’s a joy to look at a forest setting that’s bright green, and not threatening in emerald. Even at night, on Pages 15 – 17, colors are bold. The pink colored sunset is good capper for the issue. I can’t tell you how pleased I am with the colors. Overall grade: A+

The letters: The marvelous Stan Sakai (who writes and illustrates Usagi Yojimbo, which everyone should read) provides the lettering on this book. He’s created the perfect font to match the comedic sensibilities of this series. I love that he’s allowed to use italics in the dialogue and thoughts to allow readers to better hear how each character delivers their speech. Overall grade: A+

The final line: There are few things you can depend on: death, taxes, and that Groo is going to cause a disaster that will make you laugh. Sergio Aragones’s character continues to create laughs with exceptionally strong stories and artwork. 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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