In Review: Groo: Friends and Foes #6

There's not one fray, but all still goes wonderfully wrong for Groo. Recommended.

The cover: The Sage is watching in befuddlement as all the villagers are running away as fast they can. If only he were to look at his dog he would find the source of the locals’ locomotion: Groo is standing right behind him with his dog Rufferto. This cover nicely demonstrates how others feel about the infamous wanderer and that the two men know each other, since their dogs are smiling at the other. The coloring on the cover makes this illustration stand out against other books with it’s orange sky, tan tapestry, and the red lettering in the title. Sergio Aragones and Tom Luth have done another excellent job. Overall grade: A

The story: The halfway point in this series has Groo encountering the wise Sage. The title character is walking though “Someplace” he doesn’t recognize because he sees no “burned-out homes or fallen trees or desperate people…” Rufferto is smart enough to know why: ‘It means you have not been here recently, if ever!’ And at “Someplace near someplace…” the Sage has encountered the same untouched lands, thankful Groo hasn’t been there to ruin them. Pages 4 and 5 have a terrific double-paged spread of the Sage’s view of a bridge that leads into the town. However, crossing the bridge costs a lot, and a merchant near him bemoans the tolls. If only there were a way for someone to take out the bridge or the army that controls it…You should know who’s going to show up, but, for once there’s a guard who knows how to handle the situation, and it’s pretty funny. I love Groo’s responses to being asked for money and what happens because of these requests. One of the best from Sergio Aragones and wordsmith Mark Evanier is in the fourth panel on Page 13. It’s just one panel, but it still makes me laugh reading it as I write this review. The greedy king in the story is also no fool, knowing what Groo brings with him, and his reactions are also good. I honestly thought that for once, Groo would do some good, even accidentally. Nope. I should have known better. But I did know that this would be a fun read, and it is. Overall grade: A

The art: To say that Sergio Aragones is a good artist is to say that the universe is kinda big. This book is as good as you would want and expect that bears this illustrator’s name. The opening page is a one page splash of the Minstrel entertaining a group of travelers with a song about Groo and his meeting with the Sage. Around this tapestry song are tiny cartoons, that will warm your heart if you ever looked in the margins of Mad Magazine, that show the wanderer and the wise man clashing, often at the smarter man’s ruin. This page contains the only mar in the art: the Minstrel’s eyes are pretty frightening looking, boarding on Cookie Monster-like. A turn of the page and all is wonderful, as Groo and the Sage are making their ways with many people and their homes and wares. One of the treats of Aragones’ work on Groo is when he does a double-page splash, which always makes the scale of each issue leap to epic status. Every inch of the visual is filled with some fine detail that will have you looking for Waldo. The guard on Pages 9 and 10 that recognizes Groo is fantastic, especially after he sees a solution to avoid being killed. Cute Kayli reappears with her pet dragon, who has a neat visual reaction when she realizes that her quest would be going better if someone wasn’t around. Page 22 also has an epic page, though it’s only one panel, it takes up two-thirds of the page, and it’s also loaded with a ton of characters, and animals, and creatures. It’s amazing. That pretty much sums up this book’s visuals: amazing. Overall grade: A

The colors: Talented Tom Luth brings his considerable abilities to this book. It’s easy to see that Luth has got considerable skills with the subtle shading he brings to the characters gathered around the fire. Look at how the colors on each person’s clothing darkens the farther one is from the fire. If I was Luth I might have quite my job looking at what appears on Pages 4 – 6, but he lights the scene with colors that bring all aspects of the art to life. I love that the Sage has such a bright yellow to make him really stand out among all the other people on page, and how the king’s color scheme makes readers recalls the waters that he profits from. This is a beautifully, bright book. Overall grade: A

The letter: Stan Sakai (creator of Usagi Yojimbo–go buy an issue now!) creates all the letters for this book, which includes the Minstrel’s song, dialogue, quotes, and sounds. I was impressed that with the quoting that occurs in this issue; they went to italics to show readers that the wise Sage was quoting someone. A nice, appreciated detail. Overall grade: A 

The final line: There’s not one fray, but all still goes wonderfully wrong for Groo. An entertaining read from cover to cover. Recommended. 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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