The legendary Groo the Wanderer has returned to save the day once more in Groo: Play of the Gods — even if it is on accident at times.
This adventure has Groo and Rufferto arriving in the land of Iberza, where an influx of immigrants with various religious beliefs has arrived. This has caused strife within their clergy, who only worship the god Diothos. They hate the immigrants and have them rounded up and tortured.
Can Groo save the day? Will Rufferto have to do it for him? Probably yes on the latter one.
This is a very charming read that brings a lot of humor to the swords and sorcery genre. Groo's mainstay status in the comic's world has served as something of a plot point, as Groo and Rufferto overcome many challenges based solely on the reputation that Groo has as a destructive fool.
There are a lot of laughs to be had, but it surprisingly touches on some relevant issues in regard to immigration and religious strife. It also hits a lot of the plot beats of history, with obvious inspiration being taken from 1400s Spain. There is an influx of people with other beliefs (the Moors), there is an inquisition intended to reinforce the dominant religion of the area (Spanish Inquisition), and there is another plot about Iberza having sent a mercenary to explore a world beyond the sea (Columbus and the exploration of the New World). It's funny how history can repeat itself, right?
The relationship between Groo and Rufferto is so endearing. They clearly love each other. Groo means well, but he is just such a fool. Rufferto has to keep him out of too much trouble, but he does it out of genuine care for his master. He also has his own desires (mostly food), so he doesn't fall into the killjoy trap that catches many other responsible supporting characters. They both want cheese dip, and this quest unites them. They are both very lovable characters.
The iconic Sergio Aragones' art brings a lot of charm to the proceedings. It is very conducive to kinetic motion and memorable character designs. John Ereck and Tom Luth's coloring focuses on bright colors, contrasting shades, and more primary and heavy tones. It all comes together for a very appealing visual style.
If there is a complaint to be had, the exploration plot hijacks the more interesting and pressing plot of the subjugation of the immigrants. You kind of want to see Groo and Rufferto go ahead and beat up some evil clergymen, but, understandably, that will probably have to wait for the final act of the miniseries.
This is an easily recommendable comic. It's fun, it's full of heart, and it's an all-around great read. Pick this one up when it comes out next week. You won't regret it.