This latest “Groo” miniseries is a bit more on target than the last as it’s clear that Sergio Aragones and Mark Evanier are making specific fun of something here. That would be Spain’s attempt to conquer, convert, and exploit the “new world” in the late 1400’s, early 1500’s. If you’re thinking that’s a remarkably… specific topic for the two of them to tackle, it at least makes for some decent fun as the title character ruins just about everyone’s ambitions. Groo, this time around, is infesting the land of Iberza who is having their own problems with an influx of immigrants who are also bringing their own religions to the land. Sounds topical, right? Well the plot quickly takes a left turn as everyone -- Groo, returning characters Ahax and Taranto, some clergy with impressive hats -- is shipped off across the ocean to claim the gold in these new lands, convert their inhabitants to follow the one true god, and to find the best cheese dip in all the world.
As has always been the case, Groo winds up making a complete mess of the plans of the schemers around him without any intent to do so at all. There’s some fun to be had in seeing how the natives react to the barbarian with a pretty great final page that showcases his ascension. You’ve also got Aragones’ fantastic art which is a joy to look at even when he’s illustrating a fairly half-baked plot. The problem with “Play of the Gods” is that it lacks the tightly-plotted fun of the done-in-one stories from “Friends & Foes” or the skilled social commentary of previous miniseries. It’s hard to tell if Aragones and Evanier are actually taking shots at the concept of colonialism or just wanted to have the Brainless Barbarian make a hash out of a specific point in world history. I’ve come to expect better from them after all these years. Appropriately for a miniseries where one of the plot points is about religious conversion, “Play of the Gods” is one for converted fans of “Groo” only.
Everyone else should go read “The Hogs of Horder” to see a “Groo” story with real satiric bite.