In Review: Groo: Play of the Gods #2

A fun issue, though Groo is not the focus in this installment.

The cover: Technically, this ship’s troubles are not Groo’s fault. The Gods desire Captain Ahax and his crew move along more speedily, so they use their holy breath to blow the vessel along. Unfortunately, they appear to have blown too hard, as the crew are getting tossed out, just as some fish are getting tossed out of the ocean. Groo and his dotty dog Rufferto look to be safe, as the wanderer holds tightly to a rope. An excellent cover by Sergio Aragonés with the hero and his, current, allies being unintentionally put in peril. Overall grade: A+

The story: The Queen of Iberza, Queen Isaisa, watches Ahax’s ship leave to claim a new land and its riches in her name. She tells her sleepy husband, the King, that the clergy are also aboard to teach the natives to pray to the one true god, Diothos. On the ship, the clergy can’t wait to meet the new denizens of this land because “We will make them believers…for their own good!” Ahax tells them there are many people and gold everywhere one looks. This pleases Taranto and his thugs to no end, who look to make a considerably profit on what they find. He and Ahax laugh at the money they expect to make, “…especially since Groo is nowhere about!” Cue one of the masts falling. Ahax asks his men what happened and they all point in the same direction to reveal Groo holding a rope, asking, “Did I err?” The captain has a long history with the wanderer and it always ends the same: the ship sinks and he loses everything. Seeing Groo sparks a believable action from the captain, with his thoughts on 7 being quite logical. Smartly, Taranto has a solution that allows them to make land and that’s where the fun begins. Sergio Aragonés and wordsmith Mark Evanier have the clergy try to convince the people of Mexahuapan to worship Diothos. Their reactions to the newcomers and their comments are ones that anyone can relate to today, with even the gods looking down on the proceedings adding commentary. There are several competing goals by the characters: the clergy want to convert the natives, Ahax wants the gold for himself and his crew, Taranto wants the gold the himself and his men, and Groo just wants something to eat. On Page 16 Groo’s reaction to a group is fantastic, with him making a awesome request in the third panel that I’ve never seen him ask before. There’s not really much of Groo in this issue, with the clergy, the recurring antagonists, and the gods taking up the majority of the story. When he does appear, Groo gets the funny line for the panel, with the best one being on the penultimate page. This issue is fun, but more for the appropriate commentary than Groo’s poor choices. Overall grade: B+

The art: The visuals on this series continue to be extraordinary. Sumptuous details in the clergy’s costumes make them beautiful. The design of the characters are wonderful, with every one an individual and not a copy of another character. Look at the design of the thugs that flock to Taranto to be reassured of the gold, the crew on 4 that’s suffered harm from Groo, the horde of characters on the double-paged spread of 10 and 11. Forget Where’s Waldo?, what isn’t on these pages for a beach landing? The passengers of the ship, the ship, beach dwellings, the distant village, the people, the animals, the mountains — it’s amazing! When an army is shown on 15 each character is dressed in unique gear and bears an equally unique weapon and shield — this is a page that deserves much attention for all its details. And the gods — Wow! A goddess is wearing an impressively ornate headdress and looks fantastic. As impressive as she is, Sergio Aragonés bests himself with a full-paged splash on 22 with sixteen new characters who are diverse and divine. The three at the bottom of the page are very fun looking and the look that a pair of established gods on the left have mirrors what many would have if they were to look on such a goddess approaching. The last page features a hilarious visual because of an action and the speed at which it occurs. If there’s anything that deserves god-like praise, it’s the artistic skill of Aragonés. Overall grade: A+ 

The colors: Two colorists are credited for this issue, John Ercek and Tom Luth, though it’s not stated in the credits who is responsible for which page. Regardless, both work well together because it’s impossible to tell where one end and one begins. The book opens with royal purple behind the crimson wearing King and Queen of Iberza. The clergy stand out from all others with their stark yellow and black clothing. The sky is a beautiful blue as the ship makes it way to save those who need no saving. The double-paged spread of 10 and 11 is amazing for the colors of the water, the mountains, and the beach. And against all of these set pieces, each character on the page still stands out. Another impressive page is 22 with all its characters, old and new. There’s a sound on the final page that is very strong for its coloring adding to the humor of the situation. Ercek and Luth did an excellent job on this book. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Stan Sakai creates narration and dialogue (the same font), yells, screams, and sound effects for this issue. Captain Ahax always has a frantic font when something goes wrong on his voyages and I love that his dialogue and screams go huge when Groo is involved, with his screams on 5 making me laugh out loud. The sounds on this book are also well done, with there being some funny ones on the ship and a better one on the final page. It’s always enjoyable when the look of word can be as enjoyable as what the word means. Overall grade: A+

The final line: A fun issue, though Groo is not the focus in this installment. There are lots of laughs, but also a lot of commentary. All ages reading that will entertain and enlighten. Overall grade: A-

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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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