Story: Mark Evanier
Art: Sergio Aragones
Colors: John Ercek, Tom Luth
Letterer: Stan Sakai
What They Say:
In this, the first installment in the newest Groo miniseries (which is continued from the last Groo miniseries), the stupidest hero in the comic book shop finds himself in a new village . . . a village where you pray to the proper god or you pray for your life. And even the other gods know that they are all players. It’s from the award-winning team of Sergio Aragones and Mark Evanier, with lettering by Stan Sakai, coloring by Tom Luth, and a running commentary by the gods above.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The return of Groo is always a good thing even when it’s a bad thing. There hasn’t been much in the way of bad Groo in quite some time, though the last miniseries didn’t do much for me as it spent so much of its time with more back and forth and non-Groo material than it should have. So I’m a bit wary going into Play of the Gods because it largely continues forward with the story that kicked off there. But, in Evanier and Aragones we trust because even “bad” Groo has some great gags and some amazing artwork and that makes it worth checking out. Frankly, the three splash pages we get here with full scenes that shift in meaning are simply fantastic and chock full of so much detail as to be shocking.
The focus for this one deals with the gods that we had before, though the new god trying to supplant the old gods is relegated to a quick background joke and little more. For most of the main gods, however, they’re finding themselves again in a difficult place because of how people interpret worship for them. The more they’re worshipped the greater their presence but a lot of those that advocate for them do so for their own reasons and misinterpret or distort the god’s will in order to gain power. And that often comes at the expense of other gods being taken down. So when one small nation state finds itself gaining a lot of immigrants and looking to stick to their own beliefs the locals see it as a problem because it’ll convert away those that aren’t fully bonded to their own god and that will reduce their god’s power. There’s also a host of other issues that they see from this and it’s a fairly standard immigrant debate played out in the Groo-verse.
With Groo being one of those that pushed this situation further because of what happened in the last miniseries, his role here at the start is essentially the same as every other Groo story. He’s looking for food and fray with Rufferto. The two have some fun adventures and it’s amusing to see him in the rain even being wary of going up against certain animals but mostly he just ends up in places where the population is going to react badly to him and cause more problems. That factors into the nation looking to deal with its rising immigrant issue and it’s comical to see how they work a way to distract him while dealing with their problems. When you throw a little captain Ahax into the mix as well it’s only going to get more amusing as the problems ramp up and the reactions become more out of line.
I’ve been reading Groo for decades at this point and continue to enjoy it. The resurgence of material in the last few years has been a treat but not all of it has been as strong as it could be. Play of the Gods continues the recent miniseries and there are some very fun bits to be had in here along with the classics, like cheese dip, but it still involves the gods and they just don’t do a heck of a lot for me. The immigrant side, prayers and changes to society alongside Groo being Groo is something that the property has always touched upon to varying degrees and it plays well with some smart things to say in simple terms. Good stuff that has me hopeful that after this miniseries we’ll move on from this area with the gods for a bit.