COMIC REVIEW: Groo vs Conan #1

A meta-comic to its core, Sergio Aragonés‘ Groo vs Conan Issue No.1 of the self-same mini-series (Dark Horse) is a winding tale that traverses three different realities in a jokingly crafted narrative that brings together two icons of barbarian badassness. Aragonés, one of the co-creators behind the successful character Groo, is given full rein in taking Dark Horse’s modern Conan, and pits his erstwhile creation against The Destroyer on his own comedic terms. It’s a mash-up that lends itself enormously to Aragonés’ brand of comedy—which depending on your tastes may be either a hit or miss.

The comic opens with teaser pages drawn by Thomas Yeates (Dark Horse: Conan, DC: Saga of Swamp Thing) who illustrates them in a plush, throw-back style full of boxy, square-jawed Conans and oddly angled action sequences. He then switches over into Aragonés’ art-style, depicting a real-world discussion between himself and Mark Evanier, another of Groo’s creators.

Through choppy, cumbersome and often very broken English on the part of Aragonés’ character, the two engage in a lengthy debate about the subject of the very comic drawn about them—a Groo/Conan cross-over. It’s a shtick that, depending on its execution, can be wildly hilarious or resoundingly flat – and in this case the result lies halfway between the two. Unfortunately the set-up to the confrontation between Groo and Conan takes up the entirety of the first issue – a bit of a frustrating build-up that leaves you missing the first few Conan-filled pages.

It’s also a plot that definitely drags. What’s more, the comic goes out of its way to establish Groo’s horrible in-world reputation: never a good sign when you have to explicitly state how terrible a character is rather than letting the panels explain the fact. However this seems as much the nature of Groo’s story as anything else.

The cliffhanger scene at the end of the book ends on a high note as the Groo artwork thankfully winds its way back into Conan-land, but it’s a toss-up as to the excitement of the upcoming conflict. Given the first issue’s distancing from the meat of the story, it may end up handling the fight with as much hands-off rambling as the set up to the entire premise itself.

Rating: 2/5
GS Blogger: Jesse B

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