Joe the Barbarian: The Anti-Toy Story
Posted January 22, 2010on:
Man, I dunno if it was because of all the hate that people have after Final Crisis or if Vertigo is just sick of him and his Seaguy, but this Wednesday marked the release of Grant Morrison’s new limited series, Joe the Barbarian, to pretty much zero fanfare. This seems a bit weird to me, considering how ape-shit people went over We3, Vimanarama, and his current work on Batman and Robin, but whatever. That’s not what I’m here to talk about. No, what I’m here to talk about is how fucking beautiful this book is.
Our protagonist is Joe, is the unpopular, diabetic son of a slain soldier who lives in a gigantic house in Portland, Maine with his mother and Jack, his pet rat. Notorious for his wild imagination, Joe soon discovers that when his blood sugar level gets dangerously low, he either hallucinates or is whisked away to Playtown, a land where his toys are alive and embroiled in (and apparently losing) a gigantic war with some unseen entity on the horizon. But don’t let it fool you, the Stuff of Legend this ain’t. Also to Grant’s credit, this book is almost entirely devoid of dialogue, with characters cutting right to the chase when needed, relying on the visuals more than anything else.
Speaking of the visuals, they are fucking stunning. I’d never heard of Sean Murphy (Crush, Year One: Batman/Scarecrow) before this and, well, I am impressed. According to Sean, Grant allowed him to pretty much design the settings however he wanted and he did an amazing job. Grant let three and a half pages go without dialogue just to show Joe walk from his front door to his bedroom (chock full of 1970’s and 80’s memorabilia), and Sean made something as simple as that came across absolutely gorgeous. And as for Sean’s character work? I’ll let the following image do the talking (and, yes, that is Robin perched on the shoulder of a Transformer).
Joe the Barbarian is slated to be eight issues, and I am looking forward to where this thing is headed. Now we just have to wait and see if it follows what we High Fivers call the Rule of Morrison™ (two-thirds of normalcy followed by one-third of what-the-fuck-did-I-just-read). You might as well pick it up, since issue one is only a dollar (thanks, Vertigo)!