Groo is the ‘yo momma’ joke of the comic industry; it really shouldn’t be funny anymore, especially at your age, but when you rediscover it out of nowhere, it’s more hilarious than it has any right to be.
But it’s literally the same joke, every time! ‘Head for the hills, Groo is coming!’ ‘Groo, that’s a pimple, not a speck of meatball.’
Yep! And I honestly don’t care! Groo enjoys the status of being an unshakable comedic fixture on my shelf, and some way some how, no matter how cynical or pretentious I get about the comics I read, a well-aimed ‘Groo is stupid’ joke literally gets me every time. Archie is never going to get with either Betty or Veronica, Groo is never going to learn. And I’m fine with that.
Well, why should I pick up this issue if I’ve never laughed at a Groo book before? Is ‘Friends and Foes’ the next-level Groo arc I’ve been waiting for?
No way in heck! This is the same ol’ Groo, getting into frays and buffets and laying waste to both, simultaneously, at times. If anything, the Friends and Foes series is aimed at getting new readers into the surprisingly expansive lore of Groo, and introduces a single set of beloved side characters every issue. Previously, we were (re)introduced to Captain Ahax, Granny Groo, and the formidable witch duo of Arba and Dakarba, all helpless in the face of Groo’s sheer witlessness and combat prowess. Issue #4 brings us the great hero Arcadio, the uppity, blonde, shovel-chinned fraud of a hero, with a money-making scheme that doesn’t quite prove Groo-proof.
Is there anything new to draw in old fans at least?
Well, aside from being perfectly passable issues of Groo in their own right, the Friends and Foes series features the recurring orphan girl Kayli, who’s wandering from issue to issue right alongside Groo and his faithful hound Rufferto, searching for her long-lost father. That whole sub-arc seems headed towards a certain unutterable, elephant-in-the-room conclusion (please don’t make me say it) with some pretty hilarious implications, and might be worthwhile to fans looking for something new in the Groo-verse.
Why, exactly, doesn’t Groo get old for you?
Who knows! It seems Sergio Aragones and Mark Evanier hit upon a formula too simple to fail. For around three decades now, Aragones has been drawing brilliant, cartoonishly terror-stricken faces, bustling village panoramas, postures of villagers in panicked flight, and he’s gotten so impossibly good at it that these panels positively pop for me. These comics achieve a dynamic physicality that you associate with silent-era comedies and mime, and the brand of humor has an ageless charm that’s completely devoid of posturing or cuteness. In short, it’s very nearly slapstick genius.