In Review: Groo: Friends and Foes #7

The best all ages comic available. Highest possible recommendation.

The cover: Pulling back a red rose curtain, Groo sees the one person who’s taken his heart — Chakaal! You can hear the wolf whistle coming out of his mouth from the hilarious expression on his face. Only his dotty dog Rufferto seems unpleased at seeing her; he hasn’t been fond of her in the past, so hopes are not high for him to stop being jealous. The warrior women stares forward from her throne, pondering something weighty, unaware that the wanderer and his pooch are nearby. If she was, her expression would be one of anger, knowing the trouble that follows him. Terrific image, once again, from Sergio Aragones and colorist Tom Luth. Overall grade: A

The story: Several masons are taking an unapproved break to listen to the Minstrel sing a song of Chakaal and Groo. They’re laughing at his words, while their overseer is making a beeline to stop the off task behavior. With a turn of the page Groo and Rufferto are making their way into a land far away from the Sage. They encounter two travelers whom they can’t understand. They next encounter a family whose speech is just as incomprehensible. Realizing he needs someone to help him comprehend what others are saying, he stops a man who understands his speech. The man has Groo carry his heavy load in exchange for a history of the land. Years ago there were four separate kingdoms, each with their own religion, culture, and language. A woman warrior arrived and beat the kingdoms into one under her rule. However, she no longer rules the land, “…a new fairer queen overthrew her.” Gee, I wonder who that could be? Sergio Aragones’ tale, wordsmithed by Mark Evanier, is as excellent as the previous issues have been in this series, but the addition of Chakaal makes this the funniest yet because of his utter adoration for her. Before he’s reunited with his wannabe bae, there are very funny scenes on Pages 5 and 8. His meeting with Chakaal is funny, but the soldiers’ reactions on how to escape Groo in fray mode really had me laughing. It’s taken three decades for soldiers to finally figure out how to survive Groo! I loved it. Chakaal’s solution for getting Groo out of town is classic. This was great. Overall grade: A+

The art: The Minstrel’s opening splash is a wonder to behold. Fans of Sergio Aragones’ work doing the marginals in Mad Magazine will find several similarities with the delightfully tiny and sensationally silly drawings of Groo and Chakaal. And how about that topper on the Minstrel’s lyre? I love the design of the family that Groo meets at the top of the third page; it’s not often that these types of characters appear in Groo and I absolutely welcome their inclusion (…and I’ve heard that these types, or genre, of characters are to be the focus of the next Groo mini-series!). The visual joke at the top of 8 made me giggle, the number of soldiers on 12 and 13 wowed me, and the double-paged splash of 14 and 15 is stunning. Look at the intricate details Aragones puts into the soldiers’ helmets and shields. Check out the top of the throne. This is absolutely worthy of the word epic. I love the disgusted, worried, and angry looks Chakaal gives after meeting Groo: even without the dialogue she’s telling readers what she thinks of the wanderer. Pages 21 and 22 reminded me of classic Looney Tunes cartoons and mistaken identity. I love every page of this book. Overall grade: A+

The colors: I also love the bright colors of this book. It’s so unlike the majority of the comic book market which has its heroes lurk in the darkness. Tom Luth expertly makes every page explode with gorgeous color, yet has every readers’ eyes drawn to the important objects of each panel. For example, the Minstrel and his dialogue balloon easily stands out from everything else on the page. The sky on Pages 2 – 4 is spectacular, which subtly changes as Groo continues down the road, yet the characters remain the strongest images against its brilliant colors — The two travelers stands out against the orange, the robes of the family have them pop against pink, and the man’s blue robes allow him to be a focal point with a violet sky. Pages 14 and 15 have the most brilliant reds I’ve seen in a comic in a while, allowing Chakaal to stand out splendidly. That sums up Luth’s work — splendid. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Sensational Stan Sakai provides lettering for this issue, which includes the Minstrel’s song, scene setting and dialogue (the same font), the family’s foreign language, the unique speech of woman on Page 4, and yells. His work is once again of the highest quality, being a perfect match for the visuals, but I really have to commend him for the two untranslatable languages introduced in this book. I’ve been a Groo reader since Destroyer Duck (Yes, I am that old), and I can’t recall ever seeing languages like this before. I’m hoping that this is a preview of what Sakai will be doing on the next Groo series. Overall grade: A+

The final line: This Groo stands out against all the other mulch on the shelves. The best all ages comic available. 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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