In Review: Groo: Play of the Gods #4

This series ends as it began: wonderfully written and perfectly drawn.

The cover: It’s finally come to this: everyone on the island is against Groo. The wanderer and his dotty dog, Rufferto, have their backs to the ocean as the clergymen, the mercenaries, and the natives are facing him. Only Captain Ahax has sense to shudder at the horrible repercussions that are sure to follow, as Groo always escapes harm. And I don’t know if the mob has noticed, but the volcano behind them is really spewing up a tremendous amount of lava and smoke. High above, the gods look down and facepalm the proceedings. This is a surprisingly serious cover from creator Sergio Aragonés, although I’m sure this issue will contain much of the series humor. Overall grade: A-

The story: Sergio Aragonés and wordsmith Mark Evanier wrap up this story in an unexpected and hilarious way (I expected it to be funny, but not for the reason that occurs). The book begins with Taranto, his men, the clergymen, and Captain Ahax bemoaning the fact that they are trapped on this island, which is full of gold, but they can’t take it, nor can they convert the locales to follow their beliefs. However, Ahax believes once his new ship is finished, he’ll get away with the gold. The clergymen can’t believe that the natives venerate Groo. The natives think that maybe Groo’s god is the strongest they’ve heard of. One man has heard others speak of Diothos. Maybe they should worship him? It’s suggested they build a temple to him and they quickly begin. The clergymen are astounded at the natives’ work, which matches the surprise of the gods. Meanwhile, Taranto’s men believe that Ahax knows the source of the gold, so they go seek the captain. Naturally they can’t find the hiding captain, but one character can, much to the man’s chagrin. Groo is given a hilarious task to accomplish and it takes him forever to begin. Megatheos has a funny line on 7 that’s has a response that’s expected but still very funny. The reveal on 11 was fantastic, which leads to a bigger reveal on 12. The best line of the book is the inclusion of an a very unique food item into the tale on Page 14; I knew exactly what Groo’s response would be with the food named that! There’s some great scheming among the villains, undone by Groo, but nothing can prepare a reader for the penultimate page’s reveal or the spectacular finale. A terrific ending for a terrific series. Overall grade: A+

The art: There are more details in this book’s visuals than the combined works of all the books that came out the same week. Look at what Sergio Aragonés does with the clergymen’s attire, the construction efforts by the natives, the uniqueness of every character, the unending pantheon of gods, and the incredible design of the ships. There’s also an amazing menagerie of animals that populate the recesses of this book. If there’s not a person, plant, or prop in a quarter inch of the art, there’s an animal running about, making this lonely island seem densely populated. Character reactions sell much of the visual humor, with the clergymen shocked by the natives, with one upset that there’s no one that gets to be tortured, Ahax continually facepalming, Taranto giving oily smiles, Rufferto fawning over his clueless master, and Groo eating something he loves that’s now got a little kick in it. The penultimate page is a wonder for the first panel’s construct which is both horrific and funny. It’s the final page, which is a full-paged splash that really cracks me up. A new character is introduced on this last page and I cheered at his entrance. It’s taken thirty-five years for Aragonés to get to this point to create this individual and it’s a masterful stroke. The character and his companion look absolutely perfect. Overall grade: A+

The colors: John Ercek and Tom Luth make this work wonderfully bright on every page. With most modern comics stuck in gritty darkness, it’s a joy to find a book that revels in the daylight delightfully. Even when the characters are the focus of a panel, the backgrounds are glorious, such as in the third panel on Page 1, panel four on 5, the final panel on 12, and the varied mix on 15. Not one detail is lost in the art because Ercek and Luth are as masterful with their colors as Aragonés is with his pencil and pen. Gorgeous pages include 3, 6, 7, 12, 15, 21- 24. The colors of the ocean and sky make me want to go to the beach immediately, but not go on the water, because one never knows if a descendant of Groo is nearby. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue, yells, and scene transitions all fall under Stan Sakai’s purview. His style is perfectly suited for this book, easily read and looking hand drawn, which it is. I love the change in style when characters yell, as the font goes big and bold, such as at the bottom of Page 1. My favorite lettering of the book occurs on 14 and 15 when Groo expresses intense joy. Overall grade: A+

The final line: This series ends as it began: wonderfully written and perfectly drawn. The jokes don’t stop and the issue ends gloriously. The colors are eye catching and the lettering visually pleasing. The smile on your face will last long after you’ve finished reading this. Absolutely recommended. Overall grade: A+

To order a print copy go to https://www.tfaw.com/Comics/Profile/Groo-Play-of-the-Gods-4___548297?utm_source=darkhorse&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=darkhorse_buy&utm_term=buy+Groo%3A+Play+of+the+Gods+%234

To order a digital copy go to https://digital.darkhorse.com/books/2248c65fa72a4d16826631130dbfb397/groo-play-of-the-gods-4

 

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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