Joe the Barbarian by Grant Morrison & Sean Murphy
It took me forever to get around to reading this but I did it in a couple hours. I kind of saw it as quite possibly the last Morrison work I'd read before calling it quits with him. I really haven't enjoyed much since Seven Soldiers. So anyway, procrastination aside, I really went into this with expectations that were set very low. Unfortunately, those expectations weren't met until about the 4th issue/chapter. I found the story really dragged on and on and nothing significant happened. By the time Jack disappeared, I started to lose interest. While I'm usually a sucker for symbolism and this book is ripe with it, I found it kind of strange that I had no idea to really go and pull the symbols. In many ways, maybe because I felt sorry for Joe as he existed in the real world, I wanted some resolve (as in, please don't die). As a result, I sped through the richness of the fantasy world. I picked up on the major pieces and did pick up on the overarching theme of patriarchal death. The one thing I did not appreciate and thought was very stale about the story was the prototypical bullying by the bigger "punk rock" kids. It just felt like an old fashioned plot device that was cookie-cuttered into the story. Had the real life story pushed boundaries the way the fantasy story did, I might have really enjoyed this. The fantasy story is what saves it. I believe Sean Murphy is a very talented artist and he does a fantastic job with the book and we get some creative greatness from him (and Grant). However, the art felt a bit restrained. In other Morrison works where the artist is allowed to get "bizarre" (like Doom Patrol), we see some very fantastic things drawn but I didn't feel that was the case with Joe the Barbarian. The colors, while remaining in line with the darkness of the story, don't do the artwork any favors and there's something about Murphy's line work that sometimes bothers me. It just makes me uneasy. Add that to the pacing of the story, which could have used some work, I really had trouble getting into this. Maybe another read some time down the line might help. However, even with all these criticisms, I'd still give Joe the Barbarian to someone looking to get into non-superhero comics.