Groo vs. Conan #1
I just can’t resist the concept. I really loved the old Archie Meets the Punisher crossover from a couple decades ago, mixing serious comics with funny comics and meshing cartooning with dramatic art. So Sergio Aragones’ pea-brained barbarian Groo the Wanderer meets up with Robert E. Howard’s Conan of Cimmeria — “black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth” — that’s just so weird, and I just don’t care.
While Conan heroically scales a tower, defeats a wizard, and rescues a fair maiden, Groo ends up getting tricked into helping some corrupt politicos and associated troops rout innocent villagers from a beloved local bakery. And wrapped around this story are our writers, Sergio Aragones and Mark Evanier, getting mixed up in a riot at a comic shop. Sergio is injured and taken to a hospital, where he’s injected with enough drugs to get him hallucinating that he’s Conan himself and fleeing the hospital to find some evil to fight.
Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a thoroughly weird story, which means I’m basically required by law to love it.
In this Original Sin crossover, Uatu’s exploding eye has revealed a secret from Matt’s past — at some point, his beloved father Battlin’ Jack Murdock beat Matt’s mother, who is now a nun called Sister Maggie. When Matt returns to New York to quiz his mother about what happened, he discovers that she and two other nuns have been arrested after spray-painting peace slogans on the walls of a military base that was testing chemical weapons. But they haven’t been arrested for vandalism — in fact, no one is telling anyone what they’ve been arrested for. No one has read them their rights, and they’ve been given no legal counsel. And a military tribunal has ordered them extradited to Wakanda. Wakanda? What the heck? T’Challa is no longer in charge in Wakanda, and no one claims to know anything about the case. Matt ends up sneaking into Wakanda’s Manhattan embassy to find some evidence about what’s going on — and walks right into a trap.
Verdict: Thumbs up. The usual great writing and art. Thankfully, only a minimum of connection to the Original Sin series, as most of the emphasis is on the mystery of why Matt’s mother has been reasonlessly arrested. And it’s an excellent mystery — it definitely has me looking forward to the rest of this storyline.
Axe Cop: The American Choppers #3
Everyone meets Axe Cop’s real father, who was a general on General Planet and who sent Axe Cop to Earth as a baby to escape the destruction of his home planet. He brings Axe Cop back to life, and the whole team returns to Earth to fight Captain Axe’s evil uncle and Satan himself. They kill Satan twice — and then throughout the universe killing all of the Space Satans.
Verdict: Sorry, but thumbs down. Too self-aware, it repeated too much stuff that’d been done before, Axe Cop’s new origin was a groaner. I thought the most interesting parts were when the characters, who’ve always been focused exclusively on chopping off bad guys’ heads, actually made inquiries about deep philosophical and theological questions. But those moments were few and far between.
Mighty Avengers #12
Long story short: the Mighty Avengers of the 1970s take on the Deathwalkers, ancient wizard-kings, former wise rulers corrupted by human sacrifice. They want to destroy the world, and only our heroes stand in the way. But will Earth’s Mightiest Heroes stand a chance against impossibly powerful sorcerers?
Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s mostly a slugfest, sure, but it’s a good slugfest.