Well, now. This series hit me completely out of the blue. IGN had an interview with Grant Morrison about some series called Joe the Barbarian, which did not sound like a Morrison book. I think I may have seen the name elsewhere but had no reason to look into it until I knew Morrison was attached. So then I read the interview and was quickly compelled to keep my eye open for the series.

They keep throwing around the hook that the series is like Home Alone meets The Lord of the Rings. I actually think that tag does it a grave injustice. It does not capture the tone of the book nor does it represent the proper fantasy setting. Morrison himself says he was looking to revise the take of fantasy which is most famously represented in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe and The Wizard of Oz, which is a different beast than The Lord of the Rings. And Home Alone just kind gives you an idea of the setting. It again, completely confuses your sense of tone and character. But they just want to throw something out there that attracts attention. If I actually thought that was a true description of Joe I probably would let it pass, not counting that whole Grant Morrison writing thing.

So first I thought, I'd just keep my eye open for the series. Maybe if there was good reaction, or reaction that fit my criteria for sounding like it would be good by my personal tastes, I'd pick up the trade. I also was not certain if it was a limited series or not. If it was ongoing that would greatly cull my intrigue. But I happened to see the first issue on a shelf... somewhere... accidentally... completely normal... umm... anyways, and two things were noticed. The first issue was $1 and the series was 8 issues. Still, I let it pass. For a week. Then I picked it up.

The day I picked it up, before getting a chance to read it, I read a terribly scathing review of Joe the Barbarian #1. Did this make me regret my purchase? No. I was actually greatly amused by the reviewer because everything they hated about the first issue sounded fantastic. It helped that I already knew enough about the first issue and the purpose of the first issue that I could follow along pretty well and know the criticism was ridiculous.

The fellow who so utterly despised this comic had his serious issue with the major decompression of this first issue. He whined on and on about five straight pages of no dialogue and what he felt was nothing going on. Well from the interview with Morrison I knew exactly what was being done in those five pages, but I still do not think this would have bothered me. And in the end, this first issue was fantastic setup. And yes, the issue was all setup but I felt the pacing and tone and balance was perfect. I cannot express how well made this issue was.

There are of course many factors that play into my liking this book that are of personal tastes. Joe is a bullied loner, I can sympathize with that. Has an awesome house (now that I think about it, there was a little Goonies (okay I just read on Sean Murphy's blog that he wanted to invoke the feel of Goonies. It worked dear sir. And I am loving your "DVD" extras while I am talking to you in pretend.) in there, now that's a much better plug than Home Alone (but not really fitting, yes), room in an attic, loads of old school toys and games. Quiet melancholy tone.

Oh and Sean Murphy's art is pitch perfect. Well, I guess he's creating the pitch, but it is a pitch I like. In a single issue he jumped into my top 10 comic artists (I claim the right to change my top 10 at any time, so Mr. Murphy, you had better keep it up). I had never heard of him before this, but he has my eye, now. I think the color was a major equation on the presentation as well. I am too prone to giving the penciler all the praise, but in this comic the color is utterly important to carry the feel of the story.

So, yes, I will continue to collect this series. And yes, my hopes are growing way too high for this book. Presently, I am pacing it for my favorite comic ever... umm... I really need to take a step back. You may think I am exagerating this. But as I dislike hyperbole you can trust me that I am being quite honest.

Reasons I should be hesitant: Grant Morrison always interests me, but most of my exposure to him has actually not been that positive. So he interests me, but usually fails me. Now I have not read a lot of what is considered his best stuff, that should be noted. The other thing is Morrison can very easily write above my head. Heck, I might have completely missed that Joe was diabetic in the first issue if not for that tidbit being dropped in a preview article and that wasn't exactly subtle nor is it what I mean when I say Morrison can write above my head. I am just too used to being pampered by crappy comic writers. So that could definitely complicate this series as it comes down.

Also, it is a Vertigo comic which of course has the mature content warning on the outside. The first issue had nothing like this. Well there's one point when he is getting bullied that Joe is called a name that is offensive, but not deserving the Vertigo disclaimer and one I had heard thrown around plenty in high school (probably had it even thrown at me, but I can't say that with certainty; all that to say it helped the book rather than hindered). And honestly this series does not seem to fit with containing mature content. But this still makes me hesitant. Hopefully they don't add something just to make it fit in the Vertigo line.

Plus, the major conflict has been introduced, but not the defining characteristics of the conflict. There is still a lot that needs to be expounded. So I really should be a lot more subdued on this book than I am. Oh well.

1 comment:

Skip said...

Haha, I enjoyed your voice in this review. It is becoming more whimsical/comfortable. I like it. You're a lot sillier in your 1st person narrative than you are in person, at least out loud.

Hmm, my word verification today is "ausaying".