The Last Barbarian

Joe the Barbarian #8

It’s been much, much too long since we saw the last issue of this, so let’s review. Joe is a normal kid in the modern world. His dad’s dead, his mom is distant, the bank is about to foreclose on their house. Joe is bullied by other kids, and he’s diabetic. It’s been too long since he had anything to eat, and he’s now hallucinating that he’s in a fantasy world based on his own house, where all the citizens are based on his toys, the land is under attack by the forces of King Death, and Joe is acclaimed as a mythical hero called, ominously, the Dying Boy. But is he really hallucinating? Or is this all happening on another level? Will Joe be able to make it downstairs to the kitchen to get a soda, or will he and the fantasy world he imagines die a dark, cold death?

Well, last issue, Joe was on the verge of getting his much-needed dose of sugar when he lost his soda and fell into the basement. Now Joe is injured, trapped in the realm of King Death himself. His pet rat-turned-knightly-protector Jack is on hand to help, but even his fighting spirit falters when King Death raises his long-dead brothers to fight against them. Smoot and Zyxy show up to help, and King Death’s forces suffer a revolt from within. But only Joe can save the day. Will he be able to bring light and life back to the twilight fantasy world? Will he get a soda? Can he find a way to ensure the future of both the fantasy world and his real life?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This one ends on a pretty epic note. Great writing by Grant Morrison and even more beautiful artwork by Sean Murphy. If you haven’t read this one before now, you may as well wait for the trade paperback, but you definitely will want to read the whole thing.

Sir Edward Grey, Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever #2

Sir Edward gets to know his guide, the frontier scout Kaler, and his friend, a crazy Paiute named Isaac. Kaler warns him that he shouldn’t bother going back to the town, or they’ll kill him. But Sir Edward is still intent on tracking down Lord Glaren, so Kaler agrees to try to help. They meet up with Eris, a pretty blonde woman who preaches a weird combination of Christianity and witchcraft to the Indians. After Kaler reveals that he and Isaac have been reading fictionalized accounts of Sir Edward’s adventures in dime novels, Grey recounts his own origin story — as a boy, he tracked down, was injured by, and killed a werewolf, and was saved from the curse of lycanthropy by a combination of faith and science. With all that out of the way, and with a mysterious gunman on their trail, will Grey and Kaler be able to track down Lord Glaren?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots and lots of stuff packed into this one, and I really wished for even more. It’s a great story so far, mysterious and spooky and action-packed. Definitely looking forward to the rest of this series.

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