In Review: Groo: Friends and Foes #10

You can't call yourself a fan of comics unless you've read Groo. Highest possible recommendation.

The cover: Talk about the calm before the storm. One man, and his trusty sidekick, surrounded by an army of the most vile looking thugs. It’s one against seventeen — and that’s only the foes that can be seen. This sounds like subject matter that can be found in any action comic, but this is Groo. These villains, lead by Taranto, have forgotten who it is they’re up against — Groo! The look on the wanderer’s face is fantastic. He’s smiling at the fray that he’s about to partake in, and if I were the ones fighting him I’d be very worried. Another terrific cover from artist Sergio Aragones with colors by Tom Luth. I’ve never seen Groo so happy on a cover. Overall grade: A+

The story: Again the story begins with the Minstrel imparting some knowledge about Groo’s relationship with one of his friends or enemies. This time it’s an enemy, Taranto. However, instead of singing to a group of people, he’s singing for himself atop a bridge, with only a group of birds behind him listening. As he finishes a group of people go running under his bridge. A moment later they go running the other way. Rightly the Minstrel sings, “And now they flee the other way — some danger came in view. It almost makes a fellow say/They caught a glimpse of Groo.” Wordsmith Mark Evanier, from a story by Sergio Aragones, has the singer walk away just as the wanderer and his dog appear, walking in the direction the villagers ran. They soon stop their fleeing to consider that Taranto is looting their city, Groo is following them, so why not enlist Groo to aid them? “Why do we not just slay each other and save time?” says one distraught person. However, they go to the wanderer and the funniest dialogue of the book begins on Page 4 and continues through 6. The situation that occurs was hilarious. Once Groo meets up with Taranto it seems that there will no fray, but, naturally, something happens and the villains are on the run. This leads the antagonists to meet up with Kayli and things take a turn. Her actions with the horde are smart, so smart I doubted I was reading Groo because such intelligence is often not found by a protagonist in this series. The solution to her dilemma was great, with the assist from the character on Pages 18 and 19 extremely clever. This is funny and smart, a rare event in a Groo book! Overall grade: A+ 

The art: Just when I think I can’t be further impressed with the artistry of Sergio Aragones, I get a spectacular pair of full page splashes and another tremendous double-paged splash. The first page is the first splash, focusing on the Minstrel singing on the bridge. Around his song are several images of Groo and Taranto’s misadventures. They are amazing, but I’m completely taken by the work Aragones did on the bridge. It’s beautiful! The clothing on the villagers that run from and to Groo look wonderful. Their fearful smiles as they stop the wanderer at the bottom of Page 4 were really funny; and I love the boy holding a flower! Mirroring this panel is the bottom of 5 where the same characters have entirely different expressions on their faces that made me laugh. Pages 8 and 9 are jaw droppingly detailed. I spent a long time looking at every aspect of this image, and as I’m writing this review I’m looking at it again and finding little treats I missed initially, such as the detail in a pot or rug, or the linework on a cart’s wheel. This work by Aragones never stops giving to the reader. The emotions on the characters are as telling as any other comic on the shelf: look at Taranto lose his cool under pressure, the minion of his that reveals Kayli’s story, and Kayli’s trickery — all outstanding. The final splash page of the book is 22 and it’s a showstopper. This book’s visuals are a testament to the talent and humor of Sergio Aragones. Overall grade: A+

The colors: The visual artistry of Tom Luth is evident on every page. The opening page uses a beautiful pale red for the Minstrel’s lyrics and a dark rose for the tassels dangling from it. The powder blue used for the sky provides ample opportunity for the clothes of this man to make him stand out on the page. The green hills also provide an excellent medium to allow characters to jump out of a page. Page 5 has something I don’t think I’ve ever seen before in a Groo book: coloring for some characters’ dialogue. It’s the perfect color and increases the humor of the scene. The coloring on the double-page spread is amazing. Every little detail of Aragones’ work has been colored and it makes the illustrations all the more vibrant. And Page 22 — Wow! How many tears must Luth cry when he sees what he has to work with, but I’m extremely grateful that he does such a superior job. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Stan Sakai (Creator/writer/artist of Usagi Yojimbo — blatant plug over) does the lettering on this book, providing the Minstrel’s song, dialogue, an unbelievably funny choral yell at the bottom of 5, and yells. All are sensational, adding to the humor of this book. Overall grade: A+

The final line: You can’t call yourself a fan of comics unless you’ve read Groo. Don’t have me call him over to you. Groo! They haven’t read your book! Yeah, them! No — Not me! I always read your book! Stop, please! This isn’t a fray! Groo, stop! 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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