Monday, August 18, 2014

I Reads You Review: GROO VS. CONAN #1

DARK HORSE COMICS – @DarkHorseComics

STORY: Sergio Aragonés and Mark Evanier
ART:  Sergio Aragonés and Thomas Yeates
COLORS: Tom Luth
LETTERS: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
28pp, Color, $3.50 U.S. (July 2014)

I don't remember when or where I first encountered Groo the Wanderer, the classic 1980s independent comics character created by cartoonist Sergio Aragonés.  Groo first appeared in Destroyer Duck #1 in 1982 (which I believe I owned at one time).  I really got into the character during the long-running comic book series,  Groo the Wanderer, which was published by Marvel Comics' imprint, Epic, for 10 years from 1985 to 1994.   Aragonés plotted and drew Groo comic books and co-conspirator, Mark Evanier, provided the characters' dialogue.

Groo apparently began as a parody of the Conan the Barbarian comic books that Marvel Comics began publishing in the early 1970s.  Groo lives in a world that resembles Medieval Europe (with some anachronisms), although he has traveled to lands that resemble Africa, the Middle East, and the Far East, among others.  Groo is a large-nosed buffoon/oafish type; is probably the most stupid person of his time; and is clueless about his environment and surroundings.  However, this accident-prone fool is an almost supernaturally-skilled swordsman, which is why he tries to work as a mercenary, among other jobs.  He has a pet dog, Rufferto, that accompanies him.

I stopped reading Groo comic books sometime around the turn of the century (still sounds weird to me to say that).  However, when I discovered that the long-planned, crossover comic book featuring Groo and Conan the Barbarian was finally about to be published, I knew that it was time to return to Groo.

Groo vs. Conan #1 opens with Conan the Cimmerian in battle against a typical all-powerful and evil wizard.  Conan's appearance is no coincidence, because the story switches to the “real world” (or a cartoon version of it); there Sergio Aragonés and Mark Evanier are talking about bringing Groo and Conan together.  Sergio is not crazy about the idea; then, fate changes things.  And a king known as Murcia is about to give Conan a reason to join the story.

I started off excited to read Groo vs. Conan #1.  Then, I began to be annoyed by its meta-fiction quality and comic-within-a-comic story structure.  Then, I started to understand where the story was going (or where I thought it was going), and I enjoyed it, feeling disappointed when I came to the last page.  I must say that I like having Thomas Yeates drawing the Conan segments of the story and Sergio drawing the Groo parts of the story, as well as the scenes featuring himself and Mark Evanier.

Groo vs. Conan #1 promises that this four-issue issue miniseries will be unique both in terms of graphics and art and also in terms of the plot and narrative.  Unique is good, and if the creative team can come close to their best work, Groo vs. Conan will also be a great read.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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