With the return to old-school single-issue goofiness of “Friends and Foes” over with, Sergio Aragones and Mark Evanier get back to the business of mixing topical social commentary with the dumb antics of the title character. While they’ve tried this approach to great effect in previous miniseries, particularly with their take on the banking crisis in “Hogs of Horder,” this winds up being one of their lesser efforts. Which is too bad because the idea of seeing organized religion being skewered by Groo is one with great comic potential.
It starts off as all “Groo” stories do with the brainless barbarian wandering into a town, and then a fray, and then another town where he learns of the issue at hand. Turns out that a petulant ruler has decided that he doesn’t want his people worshipping the old gods, he wants them to worship him instead. So he declares himself the Star God and gets his subjects started on building a monument to his magnificence. Though he winds up getting deposed once Groo gets involved, that only leads to the ruler spreading the word of the Star God across the country and having his influence grow on Earth and in the heavens.
Satire in “Groo” has always worked by having things be one step removed from actual reality. Even if the names have been changed it’s usually not too hard to see what Aragones and Evanier are poking fun at in a given story. This time around it feels like things are a step more removed than usual as they’re taking aim at the general idea of how religion works and spreads than anything specific. I imagine that’s probably because making any of the religions featured here direct analogues of, say, Christianity, would be asking for trouble (if not death threats). As a result, the satire feels particularly toothless this time around. There’s still Aragones’ amazing art to take in, with the scenes in the heavens allowing him some real room to cut loose with his ability as a caricaturist. This volume isn’t a complete loss as a result, but I can’t say I’m too excited to read the follow-up miniseries “Play of the Gods” which will be hitting stands soon.