Review: Groo Vs Conan #1 by Sergio Aragonés, Mark Evanier, & Thomas Yeates

Groo Vs Conan #1

Written by: Sergio Aragonés & Mark Evanier
Art by: Sergio Aragonés & Thomas Yeates
Cover by: Sergio Aragonés & Thomas Yeates
Colored by: Tom Luth
Lettered by: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Published by: Dark Horse
Cover Price: $3.99

Warning! This review contains quite a few spoilers!

It is here! The crossover event no one ever expected, but we should have all demanded!!

The ultimate question. WHO WOULD WIN? GROO VS CONAN??

Oh…uhm….well…never mind. Let me just get on with the review.

Summary (contains spoilers): The story starts off like a typical Conan story: he’s wandering the world looking for adventures, and he hears a woman scream from a nearby tower. Conan storms the castle, and faces down a wizard who can make people face their worst fears. Conan is fearless, so he easily slays the wizards. He rides off with the rescued maiden. This leads to a discussion about “Who could beat Conan?”

Nearby villagers hear this, and start to pit Conan against their own “champion” who they are hoping to dispatch…

The scene shifts to modern day New York where Sergio Aragonés and Mark Evanier are talking about the potential of a Conan Vs Groo crossover. Sergio is very reluctant. They end up at a local comic shop only to find out that it’s going to be closed down to build a new mini mall.

People are protesting outside the shop. The cops arrive, and Sergio ends up getting clobbered with a billy club. This makes Sergio delirious and he spends the rest of the issue believe that he is Conan.

Sergio falls asleep looking at some Conan pages, and he dreams about Groo. In his dream, Groo finds out that a local bakery is about to be closed down by an evil king looking to build himself a new palace. The king is amassing an army to siege the town. Groo rides out to join the army…or smite them. He hasn’t quite decided yet…

The prime minister leading the army realizes Groo is powerful and dumb, so he recruits him to join up. The Prime Minister tells Groo that the bakery stands in the way of progress, and Groo feels it is his duty to get the villagers to vacate the bakery.

The villagers need help, so they rush off to get Conan.

Review: Sergio Aragonés is a beloved figure in my household. I loved his work in Mad Magazine, and Groo is one of my favorite comics, though I would love much more of it. I got to meet Sergio and Mark Evanier a few years ago, and they could not have been funnier or nicer in person.

Sergio even drew Groo holding a flower for my wife, and it’s one of her favorite sketches. She loves Sergio Aragones so much, she actually got annoyed at Mark Evanier’s light-hearted mocking of Sergio in the text piece that ended this issue.

“HOW CAN ANYONE MOCK SERGIO?” she yelled.

I pointed out that if anyone has earned the right to, it would be Mark Evanier.

She grumbled, “That still doesn’t make it right.”

I think it was absolutely brilliant to get Thomas Yeates to work on this book. Yeates is well known for comic strips like Prince Valiant and has done a lot of work on Conan. His style is FAR different from the more cartoony work Sergio Aragonés is known for. In the early pages, it really feels like this could just be a normal Conan story:

But as the story progresses, we get to see more of the Mad Magazine style Sergio Aragonés has done through his epic 50 year career. The best part is how seamlessly the two styles blended together throughout this issue. There is no reason at all pages like this should work so well, but they do!

One thing that was great about this book was how funny it was. No real surprise with Sergio Aragonés and Mark Evanier. Make sure you read Mark Evanier’s “essay” at the end of the issue about why the book was delayed (NO ONE ELSE WOULD DRAW GROO). There are a lot of writers that make me chuckle, like Peter David or Mark Waid, but without fail Sergio Aragonés and Mark Evanier always make me laugh at loud.

I also loved the parallel stories between the closing of a comic shop in real life for a mini mall and the closing of a bakery in Groo’s world to build a new castle. Like Groo: Mightier than the Sword, my favorite Groo stories have always been the ones with some satirical commentary on the world. The idea about closing down a well-loved business for “progress” is something I can relate to strongly, as it happens way too often here in Newark. But, it’s done with a pretty soft touch here, never coming across as heavy handed or making the reader feel preached at.

Conan felt perfectly in character here. I was kind of worried that the character would have to be dumbed down a little to make it fit better with Groo and his weird world, but this story made the two different worlds and characters feel like a natural fit. That really is the mark of a great humor book, when the more “serious” moments are written with just as much care as the funny ones.

I do have one complaint about this book, but it’s not really the fault of this comic. I pretty much only read comics digitally, and I think Dark Horse’s app and online comic reader are horribly setup. There are quite a few Dark Horse books I enjoy (Star Wars and The Massive come to mind, also BPRD) but I just can’t bring myself to buy them because of how frustrating I find their reader programs.  I actually have close to a 100 Dark Horse digital comics I have bought on sale that I just have not read yet because of this problem.  I am really spoiled by Comixology, I guess.

OH!  And there were no margin doodles.  Grumble, grumble.

I would easily call this one of the best comics I have read in a long time. I don’t know quite what I was expecting from this issue, but Sergio, Mark, and Tom Yeates really exceeded it.  Definitely HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Title: Groo Vs Conan #1
Written By: Sergio Aragonés & Mark Evanier
Art By: Sergio Aragonés & Thomas Yeates
Company: Dark Horse
Price: $3.99
Pros:
  • Very funny
  • The blend of “Conan Art” and “Groo Art” was brilliantly done.
Cons:
  • Not a fan of Dark Horse’s digital platform.
  • NO MARGIN DOODLES!
Is it worth your $3.99? 9.5/10 – This was one of the best comics I have read in a long time. To me, it is hard to pull off laugh out loud humor in a comic, but Sergio Aragonés & Mark Evanier always make it seem so effortless.

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