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Perhaps one of Sergio Aragones’ most famous and iconic creations, the barbarian named Groo the Wanderer, is soon receiving a landmark crossover miniseries under Dark Horse. A crossover teased for years and one that hails from the old classics. Two titans of a certain area going head to head in a passionate bout over who can claim to be the best. Being a barbarian is no different, especially in the upcoming Groo vs. Conan.
Of course people expect quite a bit from this limited series, having two heavyweights headlining it, but also the considerable talent behind it. Mixing both Sergio Aragones’ comedic flair and Tom Yeates’ greatly rendering epic style, the artistic talent behind such engenders a lot of good will. The main, and perhaps only, circumstance for worrying is in the writer’s circle. The writing and whether or not it will be able to capture the potential that the story will clearly be capable of. Normally one would laugh at doubting these two, but recent stories, in the Groo corner at least, make this question one of necessity. Does Groo still have what it takes to punch out a fun and exciting story?
Groo has been well known for its lengthy run with Marvel which was more or less entirely populated with “done in one” tales of sword fighting and buffoonery. A tradition that was soon carried over to Image Comics when Groo had to move publishers once more in its storied life. It was only when it made its move to its current home at Dark Horse that the series shifted into the present day format that readers now find it available in. Assorted miniseries. While the series had already had its fair share of multi-issue arcs, these new minis come far and between and go deeper into the minutiae of the story being told.
The transition itself proved to be the enemy with this change in format as the stories appear at points to be elongated without reason. Even though they might still come off as nice reads, there would still hang the question of whether or not they needed to be that long at all. Whether the old format of focusing mainly on the story and shelling out a well done single issue would be better in terms of construction. The minis at times meander where it could be taut and also digress where it could be sharp. Dark Horse may be doing a great service by keeping the series on the roster and by not going under, but is continual minis such as these worth the effort? Especially concerning the very last mini to have been published.
The Hogs of Horder can be said to have quite a few flaws with it in terms of story, and how this is relayed to the reader. Rather than being another Groo tale, or even another Groo tale with some slight, but humorous, commentary, it rather comes off as just something of a soap box. Groo has not ever really averted the chance to make a statement about society or politics, in fact it rather revels in it. The truth here is that it has never really let it get in the way of the story more than a few times at most. With The Hogs of Horder, however, it is such statements that make the entire exercise overbearing.
The conceit is clear from the outset, the framework of a statement on economical classicism, but rather than let the events speak for themselves, the mini repeats and rebounds. By the end of the final page it has turned out to be one of the most boring and forgettable Groo tales yet. The miniseries format tempted the series into indulgence and simply intrusive opinions on the part of the writers. It is certainly not the sort of thing that should be included in Groo vs. Conan. At another four issues one wonders if they will either create a suitably exciting story with the two character, a return to form, or yet another dud. If we’re lucky maybe just a half and half. Hopefully the promise and potential of this crossover is able to bring Groo back to its regular heights and not go back to dismal lows.