PopTards and Comic Panels: Joe The Barbarian Review

KEN-u-DIG-it Reviews:
Joe the Barbarian
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Sean Murphy
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Publisher: Vertigo (DC)
***Spoilers!!! Spoilers!!! Spoilers!!!*** Though, in my opinion, I’m not sure if anything is really a big reveal, but better to be safe!
Finally! Grant Morrison doing a Grant Morrison type story in a Grant Morrison type comic. “Joe the Barbarian” gets Morrison back doing what I like best about him. Taking characters that I don’t really know, and just messing shit up. So far it’s just the one issue, but already Joe (and the reader) is thrown into a new and confusing world. That means I’m on board.
The story starts off with a rather overused character; the outcast teen. But hey, it’s probably one of my favorites, so bonus points right off the bat. It’s your basic set-up issue. We learn a little bit about Joe’s life. Meet a possible supporting cast. Find out he can teleport himself into a fictional world made up of his toys. Wait… what?!?! This is where I know I’m reading Morrison. I’m confused already. In a good way, of course. Joe doesn’t seem to be too shocked that he’s magically whisked to another world, as if this isn’t quite new to him. Whether this is all real, or some sort of side effect, I’m not quite sure.
Joe could be passing out from what I’m guessing is diabetes, as his mom, earlier in the issue, reminds him to eat his candy, and at one point, Joe seems to be fumbling for an insulin pen. Or he could be a bit not all there in the head as we see him holding down a one sided conversation with his pet rat (mouse?). My initial thought was that of the movie, “The Butterfly Effect,” when the main character was able to time travel to certain parts in his life by reading his old journal entries. Joe had been in the middle of sketching, and after an initial jolt of teleportation, he tried to calm himself by writing a few words on a piece of paper to read. 
Either way, I’m very intrigued to see what the explanation is, and where it all leads. Especially with the 2-page spread near the end involving Joe’s come-to-life toys surrounding him. I geek-gasmed in my pants a little seeing favorites like Batman and Robin, Transformers, G.I.Joe, He-Man, Santa, and so many more. If only there was a lightsaber thrown in too, this would’ve been my childhood dream.
And of course, this spread couldn’t have been more perfectly done. That’s all thanks to artist, Sean Murphy. I remembered seeing his name on books before, but I know now, I’ll never forget his art again. I love your more “realistic” looking art of say, Jim Lee, David Finch, Ethan Van Sciver, but my heart belongs to the more stylistic of say, Gabriel Ba, Rob Guillory, Paul Duffield. Sean Murphy is now high on this list. And it works so well in this book. His depiction of Joe’s attic room alone deserves some kind of award. It’s a child’s dream! Rope ladder, bunk bed, hanging electric train set, and toys, toys, toys!
Also, I have to give colorist Dave Stewart much love on his drab, 70’s looking color spread. No matter what, when I see his name attached to a comic, I know I’m at least getting something good to look at.
Overall, I highly recommend this book for diehard Morrison fans, or just indie lovers in general. A good solid start off, with plenty of mysteries and questions.

Posted in : Comics

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