In Review: Groo: Friends and Foes #8

Always impressive, always funny, always beautiful, always Groo. Now something is supposed to fall on me.

The cover: Weaver looks to be taking a momentary pause in relating his newest story to Scribe, as Groo pulls on a rope that causes a building’s collapse, complete with workers in the distance falling. Just above the two “friends” of Groo are the roof tiles tumbling toward them. Only Rufferto looks on in horror, knowing that this is bad, while his master grins cluelessly. A good image from Sergio Aragones that shows the destructive nature of his title character. The coloring is also very sharp, which I’m assuming is by interior artists Micahel Atiyeh with Caitlin McCarthy. I love how it’s darker at the top of the sky than how it is at the horizon and how those poor workers in the back are colored lighter to indicate their distance. Overall grade: A+

The story: After the traditional opening of the Minstrel entertaining some people (this time sailors) with a song about Groo’s nature and this issue’s guest stars, Weaver and Scribe, the action jumps to Weaver and Scribe being told by their editor that the stories they’ve been submitting haven’t been up to snuff. “On what did you build your reputation, Weaver?” he asks. He mentions he wove tales about Groo, which has their boss ordering the pair to intentionally find Groo to “write about the death and destruction he causes.” Knowing that his and his silent partner’s lives will be in constant danger around Groo, he will lie: “We shall locate scenes of disaster and devastation. And if Groo is not to blame, I shall just write him into the story.” What could possibly go wrong with Weaver’s scheme? He appears on Page 4, not too far away from the pair. Groo needs a job and inquires of two men walking near him where he can get one, because “whatever the job is, Groo is best at it.” Hearing his name, the two men rightly run off. Groo follows, coming upon a castle being built, where he is instantly recognized. Sergio Argaones’ tale, “wordsmithed” by Mark Evanier, have the pair writing about disasters they come upon, only to learn that Groo was the cause. Eventually they meet up with Groo and disaster befalls them, but not in the expected way. I was impressed that Groo is able to ruin the pair in an entirely new way; that takes skill, or absolutely stupidity. The book takes a turn on 19 with a plot point that’s been running through this series, resulting with the character appearing. It’s always neat to see this individual, especially with more clues given about her past. The twist at the end was a terrific one, teaching readers that “just a small stretching of the truth” can be a dangerous thing. Overall grade: A+

The art: The publisher that sends Weaver and Scribe on their quest is one of the funniest looking characters I’ve seen Sergio Aragones create. He’s raging like he’s J. Jonah Jameson of the ancient world. One of the best silent visual takes comes from this character at the bottom of Page 20. Weaver and Scribe always are visually entertaining, and drawn like Mark Evanier and Sergio Aragones, it’s impossible for me to look at their reactions and not think of their inspirations. Weaver’s bulging eyes at the bottom of Page 3 had me laughing, and the fifth panel on 11 had me reading that panel with Evanier’s voice. Scribe also has a funny, silent take; his being the fourth panel on 11. The opening page of this issue is another terrific splash of the Minstrel singing his tale, complete with tiny Groo, Weaver, and Scribe above him getting into trouble. Pages 6 and 7 have the deliriously highly detailed double-paged spread that Aragones is known for, with this one featuring the fallout from a visit from Groo. The crowds on the final three pages are also impressive. Then again, when has Aragones been anything but impressive? Overall grade: A+

The colors: Michael Atiyeh and Caitlin McCarthy do the colors on this book and they are the brightest I’ve seen in a Groo adventure. Check out that gorgeous blue sky on the first page and they deep blues used for the ocean. There are wonderful aqua colored windows on the all-brown Publishing House that draws a reader’s attention instantly. The hills have an incredibly lush feeling due to their dynamic greens. The pages involving water are strong, and that double-paged splash of 6 and 7 is sumptuous. Yeah, I’d say that Atiyeh and McCarthy are doing a good job on this book. Overall grade: A+

The letters: The Minstrel’s song, scene settings, dialogue, yells, Weaver’s weaving, and next issue’s tease come from the hand of master letterer (and writer and artist –You really should be reading Usagi Yojimbo), Stan Sakai. His lettering is always stellar, with emphasis on one word being hilarious just in the way it looks — “NO!” is yelled more than once at Groo. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Always impressive, always funny, always beautiful, always Groo. Now is the time when something is supposed to fall on me. 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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