Joe the Barbarian
I enjoyed this book, despite not having much of a clue what was going on. Grant Morrison does a good job of introducting us to Joe, a talanted young artist with some father issues and a target for local bullies. In addition, Joe is diabetic, and we see his mother cautioning him to eat a chocolate bar while on a field trip (I will get to that later). We also see that he has a strong connection to his house, and seems concerned over the possibility that he and his mother may be forced out of it for reasons yet unknown.
After going home and laying down for a nap, Joe wakes up and begins to hallucinate, which he seems to blame on his diabetes. He then sees a world made up of his action figures, who have been decimated by some unknown force and are in the midst of fleeing.
Like others here, I initially thought that Morrison simply did not do his research on diabetes. I did find, however, that low blood sugar can lead to hallucinations in some cases, so Joe's reaction is not entirely outside the realm of possibility. The chocolate bar is definitely out of the ordinary, but maybe his mother is trying to kill him or something; it's Morrison so anything is possible.
As for what any of this actually means, I have no clue. This may be a tale of a boy becoming a man, told through his diabetes-induced hallucination about his action figures. It could also be that Joe's hallucination has caused him to intersect with an actual alternate reality, a theme frequently touched on by Morrison. It could be nothing more than a simple hallucination, with the actual story dealing with the trials and tribulations of Joe in the real world. Or it could be something completely different; again, it's Morrison.
The big question is whether this is a satisfying story. I would say that as a first issue, it did its job of setting up the main character and teasing the audience just enough to get them to buy issue #2. That said, it would have been nice to have a little bit more of an idea of what is going on, but I am willing to forgive that of Morrison because he generally delivers on the promise of his ideas.
Sean Gordon Murphy does an excellent job on art chores. It is very detailed and Murphy structures his layouts perfectly. The POVs used by Murphy are very interesting, particularly when we are first shown Joe's bedroom, and on the last page. In each, Murphy uses a POV that fits the needs of each panel like a glove. With the bedroom, the POV establishes the actual size of the room Joe has chosen to live in, compared to the modest sized rooms in the rest of the house. In the second, Murphy manages to fit in a large cast of characters while still showing devestation on the horizon and isolating Joe, both physically and mentally. The finishing work is a little rougher than I'm used to seeing in comics, but it adds a nice energy and roughness to the finished product.
I enjoyed this comic, and I am definitely intrigued enough to check out the second issue. I do not know if I would recommend it based on this issue alone, but the art is wonderful, and the story has a great deal of potential, despite numerous editing flaws and a potentially major research mistake by the writer.