Archive for Joe the Barbarian

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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The Hero Sandwich List of Favorite Comics for 2010

I don’t think I’ve ever tried to do a year-end retrospective list — it’s always too difficult for me to pick out a list of things I enjoyed the most out of 12 whole months. But what the heck, I’m gonna try it today.

This list is strictly listed in alphabetical order. I can’t claim it’s a list of the best comics — I haven’t read all the comics, after all — but it’s the list of the 15 comics that I enjoyed the most.

American Vampire

Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque, and Stephen King came together to re-invent the vampire for the rough-and-tumble American West. Outstanding characters, close attention to setting, and rip-snorting horror make this a must-read for anyone who loves non-sparkly bloodsuckers.


The adventures of Stephanie Brown as the newest Batgirl are full of great humor, great action, great dialogue, and great characterizations. This is one of the best superhero comics around.

Batman and Robin

Grant Morrison’s triumphant run of Batman comics had its most epic stretch in these stories of Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne, as well as Alfred, Dr. Hurt, and the Joker. The scale of Morrison’s storytelling here was breathtaking.

Blackest Night

Possibly the most successful crossover storyarc in years, this grabbed readers’ imaginations and didn’t let go for months. Even better than its commercial successes were the overall excellence of the plotline. At its height, there was nothing as good as this story about zombies, power rings, and emotions.


I’m not a fan of the new series, but Garth Ennis’ original Crossed miniseries was the most harrowing, brutal, relentless, depressing, and terrifying horror comic to hit the stands in a long, long time.


This was, without a single doubt, the best comic series of the entire year. Nothing else came close. Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon deserve to win so many awards for this one. If you missed this series in the original run, you should definitely keep your eyes open in the next few months for the trade paperback.

Detective Comics starring Batwoman

Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III didn’t create the character, but they crafted her best stories. While Rucka brilliantly fleshed out her backstory, personality, and supporting cast, Williams took the stories and created some of the year’s most beautiful artwork and design.

Hellboy in Mexico

This story of, well, Hellboy in Mexico was my favorite, but I also loved all of the other collaborations between Hellboy creator Mike Mignola and fantasy artist Richard Corben. These two meshed together creatively in ways that very few creators are able to do, and all of us readers were the beneficiaries.

Joe the Barbarian

Grant Morrison’s fantasy story is both epic and mundane in scale, which is really quite a trick — Joe is in diabetic shock, and he’s hallucinating that his home and toys have turned into a fantasy kingdom. But what if he’s not really hallucinating?

Richard Stark’s Parker: The Outfit

The second chapter of Darwyn Cooke’s adaptation of Donald Westlake’s crime fiction is a beautiful tribute to Cooke’s retro-cool art sensibilities and the pure fun of good pulp crime novels.

Power Girl

Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and Amanda Conner created the best version of Power Girl ever for a year’s worth of funny, smart, sexy, exciting superhero stories. These creators loved this character, and you can tell that in every story they published about her. I still hope they’ll be able to come back to this title eventually.

Secret Six

Far and away DC’s best team book, Gail Simone has hooked us a bunch of people who are extremely likeable and also completely crazy and prone to trying to kill each other from moment to moment. This shouldn’t work as well as it does, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s colossal fun to read every single month.

Strange Science Fantasy

Scott Morse’s retro-pulp series packed a heck of a lot of audacious fun into six short issues. This was a treat visually, emotionally, intellectually — even on a tactile level, what with the heavy, rough paper it was printed on.

Thor and the Warriors Four

The Power Pack go to Asgard. I didn’t really expect much of it, to be honest, but readers were treated to godlike quantities of humor, excitement, whimsey, and awesomeness, thanks to writer Alex Zalben and artists Gurihiru, and to Colleen Coover’s excellent backup stories.

Tiny Titans

Probably the best all-ages comic out there right now. These comics are smart and funny and cute and just plain fun to read.

Aaaaand that’s what I got. There were plenty of other comics that just barely missed the cut, but these were nevertheless the ones that gave me the most joy when I was reading them.

So farewell, 2010. And hello, rapidly onrushing 2011. Hope you’re a better year for all of us, and I hope we can all look forward to plenty more great comics to come.

Now y’all be safe and have a good time tonight, but call a cab if you need it — I want to make sure all of y’all are here to read me in 2011.

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Return of the Barbarian

Joe the Barbarian #7

It’s been a while since we saw this one — the previous issue came out in early July. But it’s great to see that the delay is over and we can get back into the hallucinatory fantasy.

Joe is a diabetic kid who might need a glass of soda to stop his hallucinations — or he may actually not be hallucinating and really is leading an army of action figures against the tyranny of King Death. While the army is attacked by Deathcoats and zombies, reinforcements come in from Smoot’s family of submarine pirates, giving everyone a chance to finally make it to the Fountain of Life — otherwise known as the bottle of soda in the refrigerator. But will Joe use the Aqua Vitae to save himself or to save loyal members of his army? And can Joe survive a face-to-face meeting with King Death?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great to see this series is still going. Lots of excitement and thrills here, amazing battles, and some really terrifying dangers. This has been a great series — and next issue will be the last one.

Morning Glories #2

Casey has discovered that her parents have been killed by the teachers at the diabolical Morning Glory Academy — and they’re not glad she found out, so they torture her for a while before throwing her back in with her new classmates, who’ve all gotten detention. Ike and Hunter went on an after-curfew exploration and discovered a bunch of secret cultists, while one of the R.A.s tried to stab Jade and Zoe, but they got blamed for all the chaos. Casey refuses to tell the other students that her parents have been killed, and the teachers seal up the detention room and start flooding it. Are the teachers really trying to kill all of them?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good story, with lots of intrigue and mystery. Not sure why Casey is working so hard to hide the fact that her parents are dead or that she’s been tortured — it’s not like the rest of the students don’t suspect something’s up anyway.

Kill Shakespeare #5

Iago successfully defect’s to the cause of the rebellion, to the consternation of the always-honorable Othello. Deciding that he needs to make his own way, Hamlet leaves the group of rebels to see if he can find the wizard Shakespeare by himself — only to fall prey to nightmarish visions of his dead father and Polonius. He also learns that Richard III’s men are torturing and slaughtering the peasants in the area, and he falls in with a group of travelers, Demetrius, Lysander, and Adriana — none suspecting that Richard’s soldiers are following them.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nothing really spectacular going on in this one — aside from Hamlet’s ghostly visions — but the story is advancing nicely, and it’s still keeping my interest. Looking forward to more of it…

Today’s Cool Links:

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A Bunch of Short Reviews, Followed by a Hiatus

I got a great big stack of comics sitting on the desk, all ready to start reviewing for the week.

And I’m also getting a bit tired of blogging. The weather is nice, I’ve got a stack of interesting new games I could be playing, I’ve got a bunch of books I never have time to read, and I’ve got non-blog writing I’ve been wanting to do forever. The blog gets in the way of all of that.

So here’s what I’m gonna do — get all these comics reviewed today, then take most of the rest of the week off, except for Friday Night Fights. Maybe I can recharge my batteries, maybe I’ll get some writing done, maybe I’ll actually finish a book for once.

So here we go…

Batman: The Brave and the Bold #18

Batman teams up with the Martian Manhunter to take on Ma’Alefa’Ak, the other last survivor of Mars, and later, Dr. Fate assists when Batman is possessed by the evil Martian.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fun story with a few twists and turns. Evil Batman is lotsa fun.

The Flash #3

Captain Boomerang gets magic black-lantern boomerangs, Barry Allen gets in trouble at work, and the Flash gets chased by the futuristic Rogue-inspired cops

Verdict: Thumbs down. It’s just not particularly fun or exciting.

Green Lantern #55

Lobo’s in town, and that means a bunch of ring-slingers are gonna get beat up. All that, plus the origin story of adorable rage-filled Red Lantern cat Dex-Starr!

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of great stuff, including Hal on a space motorcycle. And the Dex-Starr origin is worth the price of admission all on its own.

Heralds #5

Nova has kidnapped Valeria Richards, and all the heroines have to go into space to rescue her. Will Frances the diner waitress be able to assist with her mysterious connections to Nova? Or is someone gonna die?

Verdict: Thumbs down. Not enough of Tonci Zonjic’s artwork. Too much confusion in the plot. A whole lot of stuff unresolved. This series started really well — I’m disappointed it ended so poorly.

Joe the Barbarian #6

Joe makes it to Hearth Castle, a deeply friendly and comforting place, where everyone promises to make his life completely happy. But Zyxy and Smoot track him down and try to get him to return to his quest.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Two issues left ’til the end of this one. Joe has to get a soda and try to save both himself and this weird little fantasy world that may be a lot more real than we expect.

Legion of Super-Heroes #2

While the Legionaires try to clean up after the destruction of Titan, Saturn Queen takes control of Ultra Boy, Earth-Man tries, probably deceitfully, to win his new teammates’ trust, and Saturn Girl travels time to find her children.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Too much stuff happening! Come on, it’s just the second issue — shouldn’t there be a little lead-up before we get this many subplots going on at once?

Madame Xanadu #24

Rosalyn is trying to live a normal life, but she’s begun to see visions of normal people with horrific injuries — visions that no one else can see. Can Madame Xanadu help cure her?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very nice work, great setting details for 1963. Rosalyn is a very appealing character. The art by Marley Zarcone is different than normal for this book, but it works very well.

Supergirl #53

The War of the Supermen is over, and New Krypton is destroyed, and now Supergirl doesn’t much wanna be Supergirl anymore. But a new Bizarro Supergirl may soon force that issue.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice characterization, nice dialogue, cool art. Supergirl’s desire to get out of the spandex-wearing career is written really well.

Aaaaand that’s that. See y’all Friday evening.

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To Be or Not to Be

Kill Shakespeare #2

Hamlet, exiled prince of Denmark, has been declared the Shadow King by Richard III and told that he alone is the key to destroying the wizard Will Shakespeare. They travel with Iago to seek Shakespeare’s hideaway, but run into Shakespeare’s supporters. They are subdued, and when Hamlet is out-of-hearing-range, Richard orders the village where the rebels were hiding burned to the ground. That evening, their camp is attacked by marauders led by an archer named Tamora, but Hamlet is hidden by Falstaff — but is he plotting against Hamlet, too?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Definitely enjoying this League of Extraordinary Shakespearean Characters concept — aside from how much fun it is to try to identify the various characters we run into, the storyline is just crammed to the gills with betrayals, deceit, and intrigue — perfect for a story based on the Bard’s most famous tragedies.

Joe the Barbarian #5

Joe is a kid who may be the prophesied savior of a vast fantasy world — or he might just be diabetic kid who needs a shot of insulin before he dies. After Joe, Jack, Smoot, and Zyxy make their escape in Zyxy’s experimental flyer, they get separated, with Joe and Jack alone facing a new menace. Either someone left the family’s front door open, letting a stray dog into the house — or King Death has released his monstrous Night Dog to hunt down and kill Joe. Is there any way to escape? Or will someone have to make the ultimate sacrifice?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m really impressed by how intense this story is. Yeah, most of this is going on inside Joe’s head, but the nonstop danger in his hallucinations just helps remind you that Joe is actually in serious trouble — he’s home alone, in a very large house, with his medicine far away, and he’s got a medical condition that could kill him. Grant Morrison’s writing is still great, and Sean Murphy’s artwork is still outstanding. You’re reading this, aren’t you? Well, go pick it up!

Today’s Cool Links:

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A Farewell to Hercules

Hercules: Fall of an Avenger #2

Hercules is dead, as are Zeus and Hera, so Athena declares herself the new queen of the Olympian gods, and she wants Amadeus Cho to be her mortal champion on Earth. Not everyone is happy with that — most of all Amadeus, who doesn’t trust Athena a bit. Her fellow gods also have some objections — Apollo steps forward to challenge her, and the gods start picking the mortal proxies who will fight for them. Athena picks Amadeus, Apollo chooses the late Ares’ son, who is now Phobos, the demigod of fear, Poseidon chooses Namor, Artemis chooses Skaar, Nyx, the goddess of night chooses Nightmare, and Hebe picks the temporarily Hulk-less Bruce Banner. Three powerhouses vs. one powerhouse and a couple of smart guys? This is gonna be a pretty one-sided fight, isn’t it?

Meanwhile, in the backup “Agents of Atlas” story, Venus and Namora are settling Hercules’ estate. They visit an island orphanage only to meet up with a horrific, multi-headed, tentacled dragon. But they soon learn that the dragon is actually a little girl with a bunch of dragon-headed limbs, and that the whole island is a refuge Hercules set up for young, orphaned monsters, both growing children and a number of terminally-ill kids. With orders from the Olympus Group to shut down Hercules’ holdings, can Namora and Venus find a way to make everyone happy?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The first story was just fine — lots of exciting and clever action. But the real winner here is the backup story. It’s a very sweet, sad, genuinely touching story. And it’s cuter’n heck, too — I thought the giant spider pulling the little centaur girl in her little red wagon was really adorable, though I’ve got a bit of a twisted sense of cute. Still, it’s definitely worth picking up.

Joe the Barbarian #4

Joe’s slowly going into diabetic shock and hallucinating a whole fantasy world based on his own home — or is he? He’s traveling with Jack, a humanoid rat, and Smoot, the world’s tallest dwarf, when they meet up with a city full of technological magicians. The magicians have a bunch of weapons that could be used to fight King Death and the Deathcoats, but they’ve actually taken sacred vows of cowardice. They offer the travelers guidance for the journey ahead, but King Death’s armies soon attack. A lone apprentice magician, Zyxy, offers her aid and the use of her flying machine to help them all escape — but are they really escaping? Or just plummeting?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Exciting stuff going on here — and it’s pretty funny, too. The magicians’ idea of magic runs toward inventing cigarette lighters and batteries, which they treat as superstitiously as they can. Zyxy looks like she’ll be a fun hero, as well, and a great addition to Joe’s motley band.

The Brave and the Bold #33

I decided to give this one another shot. And I’m gonna spoil the whole story for you, so if you don’t like that, ya better start runnin’ now.

You’ll notice the Barbara Gordon version of Batgirl walking around on the cover — this is a story set some time in the past. Zatanna wakes up in the night after experiencing a prophetic vision. She calls Wonder Woman, and they both seek out Batgirl to convince her… to go dancing with them? All three have a long night visiting as many clubs as they can, then Wonder Woman starts dropping hints about… Oracles. She talks about the mythological oracles who could see the future, but who could do nothing to prevent bad futures without making things even worse. And we finally get the big twist — Zatanna is an oracle who just foresaw that Barbara was about to be shot and paralyzed by the Joker, and the entire outing was to give her one more night of dancing and having fun.

Verdict: Well, now, let’s talk about this one a little. On the one hand, we’ve got Cliff Chiang and his always outstanding, gorgeous artwork. We’ve got some nice interplay between the trio of heroines during their pub crawl. We’ve got some nice bits of humor here and there. Those are on the plus side. Unfortunately, the negatives are all on the other side.

The story from Alan Moore’s “The Killing Joke” has been told and retold multiple times, but J. Michael Straczynski turns in the only one I’ve ever seen that really gets right down in the muck and wallows in Barbara’s fast-approaching shooting. Reading this just makes you feel dirty, like you’re sharing headspace with JMS’s faintly sadistic pleasures.

And there’s also the bizarre anachronisms of the story. The events from “The Killing Joke” took place quite a few years ago, as the DC Universe reckons — but this story features a prominent iPhone joke and a scene where the three heroines go to a karaoke bar and sing Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.” This comes across as just ridiculously inept, and it serves to rip you right out of the flow of the story.

So yeah, a thumbs down. The only thing that keeps it from being multiple thumbs down is the sheer awesomeness of Chiang’s artwork.

Straczynski is about to take over “Wonder Woman” in a few months. Judging by how awful his run on “The Brave and the Bold” has been, I can’t be the only person who’s dreading how this is going to turn out, right?

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The Fallen Warrior

Hercules: Fall of an Avenger #1

Well, Hercules is dead, blown up through the treachery of Athena. Amadeus Cho oversees a gathering of gods and superheroes who pay tribute to the “Lion of Olympus” — Thor, the Warriors Three, Namor, Namora, Bruce Banner, Wolverine, Angel, and numerous others. Thor recalls an epic but offbeat contest that pitted Thor and Herc against a bunch of giants; Namor remembers Hercules attacking him solely to rouse him from one of his marathon moping sessions; And Namora, Snowbird, Black Widow, and Alfyse, Queen of the Dark Elves, tell about some of Herc’s more… adult talents, leading to a few funny moments — first, when Snowbird asks if any other of the gathered heroes want to share memories of Hercules the Love Machine:

And that’s Northstar, Marvel’s most prominent homosexual character, heading for the exit. Those ancient Greeks sure were somethin’ else, weren’t they?

And then there’s this:

I laughed for a good five minutes at Namor’s expression.

There’s also an “Agents of Atlas” backup story where Venus and Namora help wrap up some of Hercules’ earthly affairs.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Some funny stuff, some touching stuff, and some good character work, too. Some of the artwork is a bit odd, but not enough to seriously detract from the story.

Joe the Barbarian #3

Joe is a kid with diabetes who needs to get something to eat before he dies. He’s currently undergoing a golly-gee-whilikers of a hallucination — he’s stuck in a fantasy land based on his house, with his pet rat Jack transformed into a reluctant bodyguard, the bathroom sink into an ocean, and the staircase into a terrible cliff. But is he really hallucinating, or is it all somehow real? This issue, Joe and Jack take up with a bunch of submarine-piloting pirates, and Joe learns that he is the focus of a thousand-year-old prophecy that says he’s the only person who can stop something called “King Death,” and everyone calls him the Dying Boy — not real encouraging when you’re hallucinating from diabetic shock. They acquire a new traveling partner — Smoot, the freakishly large (for a race of dwarven pirates) and extremely clumsy son of the Pirate King. Can they all make it to the Forest City of Yalway and from there, to Hearth Castle?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Still great fun, still beautifully written and illustrated, and still deepening a really interesting mystery. This has become a title where I eagerly anticipate every single issue.

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Flash Lightning

Blackest Night: The Flash #3

We got a lot of stuff happening in this one. Barry Allen has been chosen as a temporary member of the Blue Lantern Corps, and he’s busy fighting off the Black Lanterns, particularly Eobard Thawne, better known as Professor Zoom. But Zoom is a bit of a special case — he’s currently dead, but at some point in the future, he’ll be brought back to life. In fact, the revived Zoom was recently imprisoned in Iron Heights Prison by the Flash — so there are two Professor Zooms right now — one alive and in prison, and one dead and a zombie. Meanwhile, Wally West is trying to save Bart Allen — Kid Flash was forcibly inducted into the Black Lanterns by Nekron, and the longer he wears the black ring, the closer he gets to dying for real. Can the Flash save Kid Flash, or is it already too late?

Meanwhile, Captain Cold and the Rogues have invaded Iron Heights on the trail of the Black Lantern Rogues. Unfortunately, it’s a bit hard for a bunch of supervillains to kill off the unkillable zombies — until all the zombies get entranced by something inside Professor Zoom’s cell. And while they’re all gawking at Zoom and the glowing symbol for DC’s upcoming “Brightest Day” series that’s appeared over him, Captain Cold manages to flash-freeze everything in the prison. But there’s still one loose end — Owen Mercer, the son of the original Captain Boomerang, had captured his father’s zombie and was sacrificing low-rent supervillains to him in the belief that he’d be able to come back to life if he ate enough people. How are the Rogues going to deal with something like that?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I gotta admit, I kinda prefer Barry wearing his blue costume — it makes it a lot easier to tell the difference between him and Wally, whose outfits are almost identical. Not overjoyed with the resolution of the Captain Boomerang situation, but I was intrigued by the little clue about “Brightest Day”…

Joe the Barbarian #2

Joe is a kid with Type-1 diabetes who is in big trouble — he’s going into diabetic shock and hallucinating. He has to get to the kitchen on the other end of his very large house, and his journey isn’t made a bit easier by his hallucinations — or are they hallucinations at all? We start out with Joe meeting up with his action figures, who see him as a prophesied savior. Jean-Luc Picard gives him his phaser. Batman and Snake Eyes salute him. Joe makes his way across the bizarrely transformed landscape of his attic bedroom, strewn with giant Legos and joysticks, with evil soldiers killing Care Bears and Buzz Lightyears. He saves his pet rat, now turned into a mighty rat-warrior named Chakk. He gets orders from a bolt of lightning that resolves itself into the godlike Lord Arc. But can the blessings of Lord Arc and the assistance of Chakk help Joe when Sir Ulrik the Unspeakable attacks with his Deathcoats and King Draka’s buccaneers?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Grant Morrison’s story is beautifully head-trippy — I really don’t care if it’s all real or not, ’cause the hallucinations are just that cool. And Sean Murphy’s artwork is just glorious, switching from Joe’s mundane house to the apocalyptic wasteland of his fantasy world. This one is vast fun — check it out.

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Computers and Barbarians

Well, the new computer is up and running. I spent most of the last two evenings downloading programs, uploading my old programs and documents (and not done yet — found another few last night that I still need to extract from the old backup drive), downloading and installing driver updates, etc., etc. I got “City of Heroes” working, but haven’t really had time to play it yet. I downloaded “Old, Blackened Century,” a new album from a metal band called Flaming Tusk — a brief, abbreviated listen-through has me declaring it great, but I won’t have time to sit down and focus on it ’til Saturday. The apartment is littered with empty boxes, receipts, computer disks — and it looks like the dumpster is already overflowing with other people’s garbage.

In other words: Wah, wah, wah, I have a new computer!

I think I can get a review done, so let’s hit it.

Joe the Barbarian #1

Okay, it’s a new comic from super-writer Grant Morrison. It’s published by Vertigo, and Morrison has published a lot of good comics through Vertigo — “The Invisibles,” “Animal Man,” “We3,” and “Doom Patrol,” just for starters. And it’s just one freakin’ dollar!

So we got this kid, Joe. He’s diabetic, his mom’s worried about him, he’s pissed off at his late father, and he’s picked on by almost everyone. He comes home one day, climbs up into his seriously awesome attic bedroom, takes a nap, and when he wakes up, starts hallucinating a whole different world, where his toys and action figures are the inhabitants of a dying fantasy world. He comes to, and realizes it’s been hours since he ate anything. He needs his insulin bad or he’s going to die. Can he make it clear across his house, hallucinating all the way, to get his medicine in time? Or is there something much bigger going on?

Verdict: I’ll give it a thumbs up. It’s definitely not your standard Grant Morrison comic. It starts out slow — heck, it moves glacially slow nearly all the way through. Some folks are already complaining about how slow it moves, but it’s fine with me. If it was anyone other than Morrison, we’d expect that there would be some slow build-up, some time taken to establish character and setting — for Morrison, we tend to expect some explosions and head-tripping straight out of the gate. So I didn’t mind the slow pace. If I’ve got a quibble, it’s that Morrison is a bit too subtle about Joe’s diabetes — I had to read the comic twice before I realized why Joe’s mom kept admonishing him to eat candy and before I recognized the blood-sugar meter next to Joe’s bed. If you don’t realize that he’s diabetic, you won’t understand why he’s hallucinating, or why he’s so worried about it.

And it’s a buck! One little George Washington dollah! Can’t beat that with a stick!

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