Still holding out hope for Groo Vs. Spawn.

§ July 30th, 2021 § Filed under this week's comics § 11 Comments

Groo Meets Tarzan is a “crossover” in the same way that Groo Versus Conan mini from a few years back was — a fourth-wall breaking story in which the creators of Groo are the framing device for the book’s events. It’s a strange gimmick in which the adventures are explicitly presented as fictional constructs…I mean, yes, obviously, we know they are, but having two different stories with essentially the same hook relatively close to each other in this decades-long progression of Groo stories is…

“Mike, it’s just a comic book, mellow out dude.”

Yeah, okay. I believe Mr. Evanier said on his site that this will likely be the last of these crossovers with the large-nosed wanderer, and that’s probably fine. The melding of two very different styles of characters is too…”world-breaking” for Groo’s milieu except when presented, as they have been in the Tarzan and Conan events, within the narrative itself as “What Ifs” or “Imaginary Stories” or whatever other copyrighted term I can borrow from Marvel or DC. Because, obviously, as Evanier has said in the past, anyone with whom Groo crosses over would obviously be dead in short order if it “really” happened, and I suspect the various licensees involved would not be too pleased.

It is nice to have Groo back after too long a hiatus, partially due to the COVID-related delays. And the comic is funny, including a nice two-page Mad Magazine-esque crowd scene taking place at the San Diego Comic Con (where Mark and Sergio are present to talk about their Groo Meets Conan comic, drawn as only Mr. Aragones can do it. Detail for days in that spread. Groo and Tarzan are on their own separate threads in this first issue, with Tarzan looking for slave runners in his story, and Groo inadvertently menacing a couple of villages in the other, and you keep waiting for the two to collide. Alas, how do you keep a Groo fan in suspense? We’ll tell you next issue!

I get the feeling Strange Adventures will read better in collected form, or at least with all the issues in front of you to read in short order. I mean, the events of the plot itself are fairly straightforward, but many of the emotional ups and downs and the rationales of the characters involved can be hard to track issue to issue, particularly when they have a little extra time between releases. I mean, I’m not sure I like Adam Strange much in this story, which is certainly the intent. And some of Alanna’s reactions to Adam emphasize her “alien-ness” — I mean, yes, she’s basically human, but some of her comments about humans and Earth remind you that Adam totally married an extraterrestrial.

It’s a hard read, the fight between Adam and Alanna, but not hard in a bad way. It’s fascinating, it’s involving, and you keep waiting for a way out of this mess to show itself and hoo boy it does not. Only one issue to go, and while I’m usually of the opinion that drastic choices made with characters usually get undone or reduced so that other creators can play with the toys…I’m honestly wondering how this is going to end. And which comic creator’s quote will be on the last page…that’s been a fun bonus. May I suggest “It’s all just lines on paper, folks!” from a Mr. R. Crumb?

I honestly thought by this time DC’s usual rebootery/universe-rejiggering shenanigans would have done away with the biological sons of Batman and Superman, but here we are, years later, and they’re still hanging around as integral parts of their respective franchises. Damian Wayne feels like a more natural fit, a new somewhat adversarial Robin to his pops Batman. Jon, the son of Lois and Clark, seems a little less so, especially after the plot mechinations of one story aged Jon into his late teens.

But this new series seems to be heading in a good direction, giving Jon his own purpose as well as a couple of good scenes showing that he’d learned the right things from Pa El. Plus, I’m a sucker for the repurposing of the original cover for Superman #1. What a classic image that is.

11 Responses to “Still holding out hope for Groo Vs. Spawn.”

  • Thom H. says:

    I’ve reread Strange Adventures through at least once while waiting for this issue, and it does help clarify the sequence of events in both timeframes.

    I also like King’s portrayal of Alanna. Definitely more “fierce alien princess” than “generic supportive wife.” I was afraid he might assassinate her character in this series, but he’s done a lot to develop her into an independent figure with clear motivations and goals.

    King has set up a pretty clear way out for Adam if he chooses to use it. I won’t say more because I don’t want to spoil it if I’m right, but it reminds me of his sly twist at the end of Mister Miracle. But opposite, maybe? I’ll shut up now.

  • jmurphy says:

    Jon Kent: How long before he gets de-aged? It seems like the Adeventures of the Super-Sons is a better read than anything else he is appearing in, making yet-another-volume pretty much inevitable.

  • Wayne Allen Sallee says:

    A lucky find, I found #1 and #2 of the first MM (as well as THE SHERIFF OF BABYLON trades) at the Salvation Army when they reopened in May. I the found the rest of the issues. I agree with Thom H. above, and find it a bit interesting that these last two series are takes on married couples. Part of me wonders what King would do with Ray Palmer and Jean Loring.

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    Trademarked, not copyrighted.

    In my experience, in 90% of the times when someone on the Internet mentions copyright, he actually means trademarks.

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    Just in case that needs explication: The contents of any particular “Imaginary Story” or issue of “What If?” will be copyrighted. The titles are trademarks. Also, the names and images of the featured characters will have been trademarked.

    This does not mean, however, that DC actually owns that combination of words, “Imaginary Story,” nor does Marvel own the phrase “What If?” This means merely that they will almost certainly win the lawsuit if someone else publishes comics that use those titles. “Confusion in the marketplace” is the common phrase for what these laws are meant to prevent. This is why there can be both a comic called “Iron Man” and a magazine about bodybuilding called “Ironman”; there is no danger of anyone confusing the two. This similarly explains the existence of both “Marvel Mystery Comics” and Marvel Mystery Oil.

  • Smicha1 says:

    I liked how much of the Groo vs Tarzan book was about Mark’s friendship with Sergio. It’s clear how much they love each other and the scenes with them are a lot of fun.

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    I shall throw in one more fact: Titles can be trademarked, but they cannot be copyrighted (at least, that was the case when I studied the matter; I concede that the situation may have changed since my college days, which were more than thirty years ago). I have always assumed that this was made the rule at least partly to spare the relevant authorities a lot of bother–who wants to constantly be judging whether “A Life of George Washington” is an infringement on “The Life of George Washington”? Also, in the pre-Internet days, there must have been a recognition that keeping track of what titles have been used would have been impossible for writers and publishers. I mean, Melville could have reasonably assumed that no one had previously published a book entitled “Moby Dick,” and Fitzgerald had no reason to suppose anyone had used the title “The Great Gatsby” before, but could Hawthorne have been certain that there had never been a novel, short story, poem, or play called “The Scarlet Letter”?

  • Mikester says:

    Keep kicking my joke, Turan, I think it’s still breathing.

  • Hal Shipman says:

    If this collection of reviews is the start of a new feature, I’m all in. Thanks for this.

    Agreed on Superman – and keeping Jon at 10(?) and using Connor as an older brother (instead of the kid that KalSupes just washed his hands of) would have sat better with me.

  • Mikester says:

    Hal – Not a new feature, but a drastically underused one…you can click on the “This Week’s Comics” category to see pass installments. It’s just a lot more sporadic now as my schedule and my eyesight don’t always cooperate with reading this week’s comics, y’know, this week!

  • Chris G says:

    Wow, is that Superjon suit ugly.