In Review: Groo: Friends and Foes #5

You'd have to be a mendicant not to like this book. Highest possible recommendation.

The cover: Groo and his dog Rufferto look surprised to see that Grooella is motioning for her army to kill her brother. Unfortunately for her, she doesn’t see the look of fear on most of her men’s faces, because he who attack Groo becomes mulch. Another good cover from Groo creator Sergio Aragones that easily establishes who will be good and evil in this issue and what obstacles the clueless hero will have to overcome. Known for his detailed work, look at all the slick work put into each soldier’s helmet and the brass work done on the arms and boot guards. Wow! Overall grade: A+

The story: The established opening of the Minstrel journeying somewhere while singing about Groo is again the start, with his focus falling on young Groo’s relationship with his sister Grooella. A turn of the page changes the scene to Queen Grooella involved in a war of words, done through letters, with King Comino. The insults they trade with each other are funny, but Comino goes too far, prompting the Queen to state it’s now war between their two kingdoms, or–uh, between the kingdom and queendom. Her troops look forward to the upcoming battle, knowing that nothing can stop them. That is until the entire army comes to a standstill when they see a happy Groo and his dog on his hill. Some responses from the troops include “It is Groo! As I live and breathe and soon will do neither!”, “WE ARE DEAD! WE ARE DEAD! WE ARE DEAD!…, and “I fear neither death nor pain! Now, Groo…that is different!” The wanderer and his dog charge into the army to attack, because nothing is better than a fray. The army quickly has to get Groo to stop and then ditch him, since trouble always follows him. I was expecting the story to stay with Groo as he slowly kills everyone in his sister’s army, but that’s not the case. Sergio Aragones through wordsmith Mark Evanier has something happen to the army before Groo can erroneously kill them, and what occurs with his sister is the funniest part of the book. I’ve been reading Groo since he first began and this story falls under the category of “Why wasn’t this done long ago?” It’s hilarious and has terrible repercussions for her and her men. This is an instant classic Groo tale. Overall grade: A+

The art: The first page starts with a great collection of images from Groo and Grooella’s childhood as the boy made his sister’s life a living heck. Though readers should also look at the faces on the animals hearing the Minstrel’s song; they looked frightened by the tale of this brother who destroyed his sister’s life. Said sister has her rage grow in every panel beginning on Page 2 as she weathers every insult from Comino. The fear on Grooella’s major domo is terrific and foreshadows something terrible, and funny, that will happen to him later. The queen’s army looks great with their banners, horses, and beautiful armor. Their reaction to seeing Groo and his dog on Pages 4 and 5 is priceless. Even the horses are frightened. I particularly like how each banner has got a mini head of Grooella on top, complete with their own look unique emotion, though the ones closest to Groo seem the angriest. I love that during the frays Rufferto joins in as well, taking the pants from one unfortunate soul at the bottom of Page 6. Watching Groo think is also very funny, and it takes three panels for him to do so on 7. Grooella’s transformation is particularly funny and when she meets her brother the reactions between the two, and others, are perfect. Sergio Aragones continues to show he’s an illustrating master. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Beautiful work by two different colorists on this book: Michael Atiyeh and Caitlin McCarthy. I don’t know who is responsible for what pages, because it’s impossible for me to tell where the division took place since the book is consistently fine throughout. The opening page has some nice blending of colors in the Minstrel’s banner and his hat. The sky is also really nice on this page; look at the clouds behind the speaker. I really like the bright colors in both palaces, with purples and blues being especially strong. With two mighty armies marching, they’re kicking up a lot of dust and even that is colored excellently, creating a nice mix of colors against the legions’ outfits. I love the bright colors on this book and am happy that this pair made the book this way. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Sensational Stan Sakai creates the Minstrel’s song (with lower case letters included!), scene setting, dialogue, and yells. All look fantastic, and I’m so happy that he is allowed to put some of the dialogue in italics so that when it’s read it’s better “heard” by the reader. Overall grade: A+

The final line: You’d have to be a mendicant not to like this book. 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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