The Play’s The Thing with Aragones – “Groo: Play of the Gods” Review

If all the world’s a play, then consider Groo the Macbeth of barbarians. Say his name out loud and prepare to be cursed on your adventure!

In Sergio Aragone’s latest series from Dark Horse, “Groo: Play of the Gods,” the wandering swordsman and his canine companion – Rufferto – hit the high seas for a tale of gold, greed, gods, and even a little socio-political satire. Continuing where the last series, “Fray of the Gods” left off, Groo goes from accidentally joining a farmer’s rebellion to accidentally joining clergymen (AKA men with impressive hats) on a quest to convert natives in a faraway land discovered by Ahax, a recurring character whose seafaring escapades are often ruined by our titular character. Making their way to the island, the happy locals are accosted by followers of Diothos to convert, while Ahax and a money-hungry pirate try to con the indigenous folk for their gold – all in the name of their god. Meanwhile, up in the heavens, the actual Gods observe from afar and lament how people use their names in vain, while also combating with overpopulation from this newly discovered polytheistic people. Oh, and Groo hunts for cheese dip while searching for something to slay. What could possibly go wrong?

It’s truly a powerhouse team behind Groo, with Sergio Aragones handling the art and writing, lettering by the masterful hands of Stan Sakai, and signature coloring by Tom Luth. I remember the first time I read a Groo book when I was a kid, back when Marvel was handling it, and I enjoyed and remember it to this day. That feeling remains, as I still love Aragones’ drawings. My favorite are his splash pages, packed with whimsical characters plucked straight out of a fantasy setting and tossed into this farcical world of Groo. There is so much happening in every vibrantly colored panel, it’s definitely the type of book worth re-reading just to see what you missed the first time around.

What did surprise me was that this series tackles some satire about religion and even a dash of politics. Satire, like cheese dip, is best served hot and spicy, and Aragones delivers. His pointed exploration of the abuse of religion adds some depth to this all-ages book, and will give you something to think about.

Groo: Play of the Gods is available on February 7 from Dark Horse Comics. It’s an easy read and meant for readers of all ages, and I highly recommend it if you are a fan of funny cartoons, barbarians, and fantasy. What will happen next for this buffoonish barbarian? Only his creator knows, but I will be waiting with some fresh cheese dip for him once the next volume is released.

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