03rd Aug2021

‘Groo Meets Tarzan #1’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Sergio Aragones, Mark Evanier | Art by Sergio Aragones, Thomas Yeates | Published by Dark Horse Comics

After reviewing a lot of very good, but very mainstream, superhero books I was looking for something a little different to cast my eyes over this review. Someone upstairs must have been listening, as you don’t get much more removed from Superman or Moon Knight than Groo and Tarzan. Tarzan of course has a massive literary pedigree. Groo doesn’t, but he probably thinks he does.

I’ve been a fan of both characters for some years, I collected the Marvel Tarzan run a few decades back and loved it. Tarzan has, of course, been around in magazines and novels since the 1910’s, created by the great Edgar Rice Burroughs. He’s got quite the pedigree in comics too, not only starring in quite a few runs, but also inspiring characters like Ka-Zar. Groo was always a book that made me laugh, and a go-to choice when boredom had set in with the latest Marvel and DC offerings, so I’ve come full circle with that one. Created by Sergio Aragones in the late 1970’s Groo has quite aptly been subtitled the Wanderer. He’s been published by Pacific Comics, Marvel’s Epic imprint, Image Comics, and of late Dark Horse Comics.

This should be….different.

So, we start by following the real life creative team at the 2021 Comic-Con (which, of course, never happened in real life because of COVID). It’s a chance as always to poke fun at themselves, Evanier is always very self-deprecating, the Cons, the fans, cosplayers, the industry, even the characters themselves. There’s a fantastic two page spread which has enough sight gags in there to take up most of a comic by itself. Once Mark and Sergio have fought their way through the packed Con, they have a panel to do, launching their new book, Groo/ Tarzan. All very meta. More fun is poked at everybody, I can tell fans thinking creators worked on books they didn’t is a particular bugbear, and Sergio takes himself off to bed dreaming of this new book.

As Sergio nods off, Tarzan, as drawn by Thomas Yeates in all his delicate, clean pencil lined glory, wakes up. Tarzan has been drafted in by the local Police to help with slave traders, who have returned in a large ship with seemingly many prisoners on board. As Tarzan ponders on the evil men do, we drop in on Groo and trusty canine sidekick Rufferto, surely the best double act in comics. Evanier never ceases to have fun writing the dialogue of the completely-oblivious-to-everything Groo, and the smart, sarcastic, and thinks-what-we-are-all-thinking Rufferto. Groo’s never welcome in the villages he tends to wander into, unintentional destruction usually follows, and this village want him gone before he’s finished eating pelts in dung water. They tell him of a legendary Cheese Dip, the best in all the world, that can be found at the base of the Ungara Mountain.

Groo, never being one for deep analysis, sets off immediately. He even mistakes the warning drums sending a message to Ungara of his imminent arrival as a welcome for his visit. Cue Rufferto eye-roll. As Groo nears the non-existent cheese dip, we switch back to Tarzan on his somewhat more morally weightier quest. With the help of local villages he keeps tracking the mystery ship, until he finds himself on the edge of the world he knows, looking across at one he doesn’t. I’m guessing it contains a man looking for cheese dip. To add to the weirdness, Mark and Sergio have decided to visit Chula Vista Jungle Safari Land, a rundown animal park that Sergio wants to use for animal references in his book. It ends as you’d expect, with Sergio being chased off into the park by a lion.

This was an absolute hoot. Really difficult to adequately describe of course, but great fun. Although the humour jumps off the page, you can tell the respect the two creators have for Tarzan. Groo’s is as funny as you would expect, the Tarzan segment as good a read as you would expect. The Yeates art is superb on Tarzan too. Aragones, rather like Fred Hembeck, is something of an acquired taste, more cartoon strip than comic art. It works for his brand of humour though. Where it’s all going, who knows, but it’ll be great fun finding out. Not for everyone, but most should have fun with this.

When the King of the Apes meets the King of the Japes, you know things are going to get…strange. Aragones and Yeates, Tarzan and Groo strange.

**** 4/5

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