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Joe the Barbarian # 1 Review.



I have a vision, people.

I have a vision that the writer of Joe the Barbarian # 1 looked at his script, thought about all the time he’d put into it.  Then looked down at the trash can.  Sighed, just once.  And did what needed to be done.

I have a vision.

That the artist of Joe the Barbarian # 1 received this script, and responded with a sharply worded e-mail, demonstrating his famous, amusingly tactless outspokeness.

“Fuck you.  I’m not drawing this shit-log.  I can go work for Kodak of something.  Find another patsy.”

Something like that.

I have a vision.

That the editor of Joe the Barbarian # 1 received this script, and spoke thusly unto the writer:  “Your page 20 needs to be your page 4, and the first 19 pages are TOTAL DAMN FUCKING DAMN_ASS BULLSHIT THAT SUCKS LIKE SUCK FLAVORED ASS DAMMIT TO HELL.  Try again, sport..”

I am not a fan of warning labels.

Never did care for Tipper Gore.

But in this case, a simple Parental Advisory: Jesus Christ, this Book Sucks, Buy Something (ANYTHING) Else placed discreetly on the front of Joe the Barbarian # 1 would be warranted, appropriate, and appreciated.

Now, y’all may have perceived that I am a tad upset.

This is true.

Now part of the reason I’m upset is that I’ve read Chick Tracts that were better than this comic.  But that’s only part of the reason.

Here’s why.

If you go into the process of creating a comic, it seems – to me – to be an act of bad faith to assume that everyone reading your comic is… if not STUPID, at least completely ignorant to the nuances of pop culture.

Were I a comic writer, I would assume that most of my readers had seen more than three  movies.  I would also assume that some of them had, at one point in their life, watched television.  Many may have even read a significant number of other comics.

If so, these people have, for all practical purposes, already read the first 18-or-so pages of Joe the Barbarian # 1.

Kid gets picked on.  Kid is alienated.  Kid goes home.  That’s it.  You’ve all seen this, right?


In my stack of (three) comics purchased this week

I have Brave and the Bold # 31, which, lo-and-behold, tells a variation of the exact same “kid gets teased” story as Joe the Barbarian # 1.

Now Brave and the Bold # 31 also sucked like a finely aged wine that tastes terrible, but it was better than Joe the Barbarian # 1, ’cause didn’t wantonly and almost randomly waste space.

Here!  I will prove.   Here are  the first two of a FIVE PAGE! Sequence where Joe walks from the school bus into his room.



I shit you not.


I can’t figure out how to make a space between the two pages, so you get this worthless text instead. Let’s pretend it’s symbolic.

No character development.  No plot development.  All we’re doing here is establishing setting.  And, hey, it’s suburbia.  We’ve all SEEN suburbia.  If suburbia is only implied in two small-ish panels, hey! We understand!    Wasted.  Space.

But if you liked this, boy howdy!  We got three more pages!

(This reviewer, who has had a hard day, is tempted to repeat “five pages” over and over again for another several hundred words.  But we’re all adults or smart children here.  And I am (ever so slightly) above trying to inflict the pain of reading Joe the Barbarian #  1 on the rest of you.  You’re freakin’ welcome.)

Now, I basically, on some twisted level, understand the logic employed here.   Many modern creators seem to view the individual issues of a comic as unimportant.

The creators’ argument here is going to be “Yes, this sucks.  Some things are unavoidable.  But you have to view this as the first eight of a trade.”

Sidenote: I read that one of the creators decided the series should be six issues, rather than eight.  PUNCHLINE! Because he needed more space to tell the story!  AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAH!  Get it?  HE WAS LYING or else INCOMPETENT!   AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Story continues below

But, sure, what the hell, fair enough.  The comic I paid good money for is worthless in and of itself, and only has value when combined with seven other comics.

If I was reviewing this comic as the first eighth of a collected edition, I would say this:

“Man, this first eighth of a trade is like getting puked on by a fat dude in 120 degree heat while wombats have violent sex in your underthings.  It is terrible.  The creators did not need to waste the entire first eighth of this trade on bullshit establishing shots.  I hate them.”

I have a theory.  It’s based on reading Scott McCloud’s UNDERSTANDING COMICS one of many, many, many fine comics, or magazines, or books you could choose to read instead of Joe the Barbarian # 1.


Writing comics is all about writing the space between the panels.  If you want to write comics well, you must cherry-pick the very most interesting moments of the narrative and show those.  And ONLY those.

Ya needta be  trimming, trimming, constantly trimming.  Cram that thousand words into every panel.   Define character.  Every page.  Advance the plot.  Every Panel.  Trim ANYTHING that won’t keep the audience riveted.

In short:


(Sidenote: For Best Results, Go back and read that last sentence and imagine it was written by Chris Farley.)

Now, as a special treat, I will open this up to questions from the audience.

Audience:  You just don’t realize the subtle genius of the writer!

Shut the fuck up.  Seriously.

Audience:  Dude. It’s only a comic, and it only cost a buck.   Chill!

YOU try being calm after a swirling vortex of liquid is transpondered into  your brain so it can Sap Your Very Will To Live.  I have to EXIST on a PLANET with this comic!  For the rest of my life!  I don’t need that kind of pressure added to my life, gnawing at my brain in the tenderest of  moments!

I mean, sure.  You have a point.  I do tend to get  a little bit worked up about this crap.

I probably have childhood issues.

I acknowledge this, which is the first step to getting better.







If God is a comics fan, y’all are going to have A LOT OF DAMN FUCKING EXPLAINING TO DO at the pearly gates.

NEXT!  You there.  In the back.  Edging towards the door and looking worried.

Audience:  But… but the ART is nice, isn’t it?

The art is quite nice, especially in the fourerfive pages that are interesting.   And the cover:  Quite striking, quite good.  But if I charitably give this comic a 2 out of one hundred (2 %) for the writing, and a 100 out of 100 (100%) grade for t the art still leaves is an average of 51 %.  (E)

Audience:  So is this the worst comic you’ve ever read or what?

No, with a but.   I’ve read a lot of mini-comics –  And that means a lot of shoddily illustrated non-rhyming poetry about why THE ARTIST’S girlfriend doesn’t understand THE ARTIST. You’ve pictured how bad this is in your head, yes?  Now imagine it’s  even worse.

Ha!  That scared you!

But in terms of wasted potential from creators who have done  ood, even outstanding, work in the past?  Yes.  This is the most egregious example of squandered talent I can think of.

Next…. Hey.  Gosh.  They all left.  I shall talk to myself.

MARKANDREW:  I know you’ve said that you dislike psychoanalyzing creators or trying to figure out the reasons why an artist created a piece of work.  Why don’t you break your number one rule and try to explain what the writer was thinking?

I’d be glad too.   There are two possibilities.

Possibility one:  The writer’s last project which sucked was (rightly and justly) criticized for being a skeleton of a story rather than an actual story, throwing plot points at the audience so fast they couldn’t begin to keep up.  Marc Singer sneered it best, if you’ve got some free time.

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So, possibly the writer was responding to criticism.  By making sure that this project which sucks moves extremely slowly, and spelling  out every plot point or potential hint of a plot point or not actually a plot point at all in excruciating detail.

The reason?  Spite.  Or it’s a form of revenge on the  people who hated his last project that sucked.  This doesn’t seem quite fair, though, as many of those same people liked his last project that was good.

Possibility two: The writer is trying to sell the project as a film, and make fat-ass cash.

This is understandable.

I, too, like fat-ass cash

So what he’s written isn’t a comic.   It’s a set of storyboards for a film.  And as a film, given proper lighting, actors, and soundtrack, Joe the Barbarian # 1 might make  for a great first five minutes.

On opening friday I will be there ticket in hand.  Front row.  Popcorn.  Seventeen dollar box of malted milk balls.  Whole nine.

But I’m not doing is  reading past issue one of this terrible, terrible comic.  Lord.


Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

January 20, 2010 at 8:01 pm

Honestly, this sounds a lot like The Writer’s prior work aimed at “capturing the real world,” a comic called The Authority that he wrote two issues of and then vanished from entirely.

Its two issues worked at excruciatingly slow pace, to the point that the Authority characters quite literally didn’t appear in issue #1 until the final page, while nearly a third of issue was given over to the sentence fragments of a man just waking up and huge pictures of the utter darkness in the ocean depths with uninteresting radio conversations about large sonar blips went on.

The artist that time was Gene Ha, previously known for the superdense panels of Alan Moore’s Top 10.

So what I’m saying is, this ain’t the first time this has happened.

God, but those were




I pored over them. Loved drinking in the detail. Love it when (some) stories take their time to establish atmosphere and set mood.

I’m looking forward to the next issue.

Wow. No one can ever say this blog is biased toward Morrison again.

In a book where the central conceit is that a boy’s house turns into a magical kingdom, and he’s fighting for his life in each, an establishing shot of the territory that the journey will cover seems pretty key. Kind of like a map of Middle Earth.

I knew someone would complain about this when I read this book.

To me, I didn’t mind this massively decompressed issue, mainly because the delirium Joe had in the end of the issue sets up some potentially epic storytelling on Grant’s parts in the opening issue. That and maybe some of the actions that were done (placing his book bag on the steps, his mom going to the foreclosure office- im assuming, and the bullt telling him he knows where he lives) during this issue may play important parts in the whole series. Hell I may be over thinking that one.

Regardless, it was only a buck. Stick it out one more issue- see if it gets denser, which I’m sure (hoping) it will.

“In a book where the central conceit is that a boy’s house turns into a magical kingdom, and he’s fighting for his life in each, an establishing shot of the territory that the journey will cover seems pretty key. Kind of like a map of Middle Earth.”


…Well, *I* liked it.

Did you ever stop and think that since the whole comic apparently takes place in Joe’s house as he hallucinates (?) a fantasy world, these five pages might be important to the rest of the story?

Usually I trust this blog not to criticize for the sake of criticism.

That artwork sure is fan-freakin-tastic, tho. I’m really digging on Sean Murphy’s art. I’ve been watching him on DeviantArt and everything he posts makes me happy.


January 20, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Are you for realsies?

No character development. No plot development. All we’re doing here is establishing setting. And, hey, it’s suburbia. We’ve all SEEN suburbia. If suburbia is only implied in two small-ish panels, hey! We understand! Wasted. Space.

Well, the whole story is going to be set in a fantasy land that occupies that exact same space… so it makes sense to establish it so that you can compare it later.

(Sidenote: For Best Results, Go back and read that last sentence and imagine it was written by Chris Farley.)

But that would make it even more boring to read than it already was.

Wow. No one can ever say this blog is biased toward Morrison again.

One poorly written review from a guy who writes something once every two months won’t change that.

This article explains the purpose of the sequence in question:


what idiocy
the review, not the issue
just asinine all around.

I have to agree with all the people disagreeing with the blogger here. If you walked into this without reading any interviews, you might be peeved that less than 25 cents’ worth of your dollar was spent on pages of him walking into his room. If you walked into it knowing that this landscape was going to be important, you didn’t get pissed off about the smallest little thing, clouded by irrationality that this might, maybe, just maybe a little teensy-weensy bit, be important.

Believe me, I’m fully prepared to eat these words if I turn out to be wrong. I was certainly someone completely turned off by Final Crisis, but I quite enjoyed this comic book, especially for a dollar. A dollar. I’d repeat that yet again, but that seems to already be wearing out.

I have enough faith in Morrison that he did this for a reason. That’s with what little faith I had left in him after Final Crisis. I’d have been the first person to be ready to jump on anything he did wrong here after reading Final Crisis. Instead, I understand that sometimes writers do things for a reason. I’ll vote with my four dollars a month over the next seven months that this is the case here.

Don’t know if I’ve ever seen someone miss the point of an issue to such an extent.

AFries, FunkyGreen, thank you for bringing some much needed sanity to this topic. This seriously reads like a message board rant on what Bendis is doing to the Sentry this month (Not that I’m saying that Bendis and Morrison are on the same level, but still). On another note, I’m a trade waiter, but damn if those aren’t gorgeous pages.

What a dick.

I wish the blogger’s name appeared in the truncated RSS feed so I could be sure to skip this asshole’s posts in the future.

For something you think is so terrible, you sure did only point out one thing that was wrong with it.

When a “review” relies so heavily on the word “sucks,” it’s not a review, it’s a reactionary tirade.

I haven’t read the comic in question yet, but I plan to do so. Perhaps I won’t enjoy it; perhaps I will.

just stfu. you’re not funny.

and those five pages were gorgeous.

Holy crap you’re dumb

There isn’t anything right with it.

Sounds like the reviewer got his money’s worth.

This is a pretty bad review. Setting aside how you fail to actually name the creators involved and the ridiculous personal shots, you completely missed the point of the book. It is an eight issue miniseries and Grant Morrison is a couple decades deep in comics- he knows how to pace a story.

Joe is about a kid who ends up experiencing a fantasy world that’s based on his real life and set in his actual house. It only makes sense to spend some time establishing that house’s reality before twisting and turning it into the fantastic. Joe’s house is extremely important to him, particularly in light of his father’s passing. It’s a symbol of a bygone era, so establishing it in detail before it goes all weird is a pretty good idea.

But, sure, what the hell, fair enough. The comic I paid good money for is worthless in and of itself, and only has value when combined with seven other comics.

You paid a dollar and, as part of an eight issue miniseries by a writer known for telling stories where everything matters, you have a key part of whatever puzzle Joe ends up being. It is a finite story, not an ongoing series, and different rules apply.

Writing comics is all about writing the space between the panels. If you want to write comics well, you must cherry-pick the very most interesting moments of the narrative and show those. And ONLY those.

Ya needta be trimming, trimming, constantly trimming. Cram that thousand words into every panel. Define character. Every page. Advance the plot. Every Panel. Trim ANYTHING that won’t keep the audience riveted.

This is dumb and untrue, to boot. It’s kind of funny that you criticize Morrison for throwing plot points at readers rapid-fire in Final Crisis (which you also failed to name) and then complain that every page isn’t exploding with- what? Exposition?

The build-up in Joe is intentional and from one of the very best writers comics has. It is setting the stage, which is in and of itself a form of plot development. “This is the real world that Joe lives in,” it says. “This is the real world before it changes.”

Writers don’t need to cherry-pick anything. The only thing they need to do is put down what gets the story across in the best possible way. It could’ve opened on Joe swinging swords and chopping up GI Joes, but it didn’t, and I’m willing to bet that’s because Morrison knows what he’s doing.

This review here? Too much noise, not enough signal. It’s not even a review- it’s a collection of half-formed thoughts that aren’t even backed up by the work itself. It’s hyperbolic linkbait, something to get people pissed off and clicking over. It’s see-thru.

I feel as if this might be a deliberate parody of the kind of insanely colloquial, hyperbolic and overcapitalized rants one finds on comics forums that don’t utilize some sort of editing/weeding process…particularly the author’s attitude toward Morrison seemed very familiar.

If Mr. MarkAndrew is inclined, however, I and many others are more than capable of debating the merits of Final Crisis, particularly the odd statement that it is a “skeleton of a story rather than an actual story,” which suggests what exactly?

I’m thinking it’s a joke, though. It is kind of funny the same way, say, Colbert is.

Too late to steer me away, Mark! I’ve already ordered this one! Down, down the rabbit hole I go! Never to return!

Well, I only ordered the first one as a tease, because it was so darn cheap. I figure it’ll read better in trade, so for the trade I shall wait. It ain’t like it’s Seaguy or sump’n.

And I’d argue that these shots, and every second of Joe getting home and making his way up to his room is absolutely essential, if you’ve bothered to think one second about the story you’re reading.

As a parody this is awesome btw

But we do need more posts on this blog that deliberately intend to piss off readers. No, really. Since I am bored with comics right now, I demand controversy.

I’m thinking it’s a joke, though. It is kind of funny the same way, say, Colbert is.

Exactly what I’m thinking, too. Seems too out there to not be a joke.

Yeah I’m going to just enjoy this guy’s sense of humor now. Good call.

I don’t think it is a parody. Line’s about expecting better out of Grant Morrison leads me to believe that he’s earnest.

It’s just a bad review. And one that needs to take night classes at Comedy School, at that.

I have never once seen you say a positive word about a comic. I have never once see you give any real criticism. You are just an angry fan because things aren’t what you expect. Your writing in this article is one of the worst reviews I’ve seen in an official publication of any kind.

Those five pages are beautiful, and serve a purpose. The house is important. The house is where this kid’s soul is, where his life is, those five pages are used to show you what he holds so dear to him. You see how he is completely oblivious to the girl that wants to be his friend? How the kids picked on him? The only thing Joe has is his house, which is possibly about to be taken away from him. It is all he has.

The art is beautiful, I have never heard of Sean Murphy before in my life but I was floored by what I saw here. That house is a beautiful set piece.

You should be ashamed of yourself for using capital letters for an entire paragraph. I don’t care that you didn’t like this issue, but post something worthwhile to whine about, because that’s what this was: whining.

Yes, the bullies picking on the weird kid is cliche, but you know what? It’s a set up issue, Grant has 22 or 24, I don’t remember, pages to set up that this kid is an outcast, and yeah he might have gone for the easy out, but that’s fine, sometimes the stand bys work.

Hey, I can throw the f-word in a review too, but I won’t because I think that de-legitimizes an argument, and that’s just what you’ve done here. Any legitimate arguments you thought you had are thrown aside when you childishly smashed at your keyboard with Caps lock on and threw around swears.

For shame, sir.

Tom Fitzpatrick

January 20, 2010 at 9:42 pm


That good, eh? ;-)

Can’t wait to read it so.

I just love me some Morrison’s Vertigo books.

Now, if only some brilliant and smart and sassy editor would put Morrison and Case together to make a second volume of Doom Patrol. I’d be like a junkie high on crack or whatever!!!! ;-)

What a incredible misunderstanding of what Scott McCould was actually saying in Understanding comics.

Your writing in this article is one of the worst reviews I’ve seen in an official publication of any kind.

Holy shit! We’re an official publication!

I think this means we’re supposed to have shirts with our names on them, Cronin. MAKE IT SO

Hey, man, you’re more official than me talking to nobody on a blogger site.

GohanWinner — If you’re going to dismiss a writer’s ideas simply because he uses swear words, you’re going to miss out on a lot of great writers. Those who say the use of them is immature or shows a limited vocabulary prove themselves victims of those very criticisms as they dismiss someone simply because of a few words they personally don’t like (which is pretty immature) and also refuse to use certain words even when they’re the correct ones (which is limiting one’s vocabulary).

Thanks for this review. I brought this home earlier today, and just threw it on the shelf as a “read this when I get to it” thing. After reading this and the comments, I was really interested in whether this was really good or not, and I read it. I’m actually really excited about getting the remaining issues. I hadn’t planned on it, but this is good stuff and I will be adding to my “pull” list. More companies should do the $1.00 issue 1’s. I never would have bought it without that…

That rotary dial phone is gonna be the key to whole story I tells ya.

holy shit you are a sad man on the internet


January 20, 2010 at 10:38 pm

I think this means we’re supposed to have shirts with our names on them, Cronin.

Don’t think we can’t tell who blogs with a tie on and who doesn’t!

Hey, Chad

You misunderstood what I meant by that. I wasn’t offended, and I’m not accusing Mark of being immature. I swear all the time in real life, but even then I think it’s pointless and it’s just a bad habit.

But in what is supposed to be criticism, throwing around the f-bomb is empty rhetoric, it’s filler. If you’re putting something out there to be taken seriously, you shouldn’t mince words. It’s similar to putting like, or, you know, in a middle of a sentence when you don’t really need it When you have text you’re given the opportunity of time to think of what you’re saying and one shouldn’t need to grasp at phrases.

Also, it’s possible this article is satirical and if it is, congratulations, you pulled one over on me. But I doubt that is the case.

Also, Bill, when I said “official publication” what I should have said was “established.”

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

January 20, 2010 at 10:45 pm

I stand by my argument that The Writer was responsible for those two issues of The Authority, clearly written shortly before he was slain during a terrible Wonder Woman-centric crossover.

And I don’t mean 60s Batman henchman shirts, Cronin! I mean like, tasteful business casual polos! With embroidery!

And that, friends, is how not to do a review. I almost want to buy it just to spite you and your negativity. Rebis and Mandingo are entirely right. This might not be the style you like, but the entire point is that it sets up how lame and dull this kid’s life is. And Scott McCloud definitely did not mean that everything needs to be zipped through as fast as possible.

I could not disagree more on any of the topics. I loved every panel of this comic. Let the artwork speak. Not every comic has to move the story from Point A to Point B. It is very refreshing to have a comic where the story is slowed down. It is actually relaxing. Completely agree with what Mandigo said above.

Not sure if he is just trolling everybody, but I highly doubt it.

Regarding the last two panels of the second page you posted:

Did you not get goosebumps when Joe looked into the basement, and it was completely dark?

Did you not get a feeling of dread in the last panel with the long shot of the hallway with the rain down pouring right outside?

I would pay at least $4 for this comic! It was a bonus for me that it was only $1.

Yes, in those 5 pages he just went home. That is all that happened if you looked at it from a linear POV. But, there was so much more going on in those pages then there was during the rest of the issue. I understood Joe more in those pages than I did in the others.

I have already read the issue 5 times, and planning on at least a few more. Very, very well done.

For anyone out there who is thinking about getting this book: Don’t listen to him, try it out for yourself for a buck, and then come back. You’ll see the truth then.

PS: At first I thought you were joking about how bad the comic was. I was waiting for the twist where you said,

“Nah, JK. This thing rocked!”

But… alas, it never came.

This is most likely a shitty unfunny hyperbolic parody of crazy Morrison bashers, but it’d be much funnier if MarkAndrew was actually for real.

I read this review, thought it was absolutely hilarious, then read the comic.

I completely disagree with you.

But this review is still absolutely hilarious.

Read this article to the end expecting some kind of punchline, sadly it never came.

I liked this issue, but if you didn’t that alright.

Quite frankly, the line about mini-comics gave away the game, but nice attempt at keeping a straight face.

Haven’t read it yet, but I have to imagine the creators’ emphasis on the drab suburban setting was intended to sharpen the contrast between Joe’s fantasy world and the dull reality where his normal life goes on. Plus, I remember reading in an interview somewhere that Morrison was going for a Tolkien-type vibe, and if you’ve ever read The Lord of the Rings, you’ll recall (with a cringe probably, considering your review) Tolkien’s extravagant, almost fetishistic description of the scenery, pages and pages on end devoted to the variety of trees and the droplets of dew, explaining how a book whose plot is more or less that a troll throws a piece of jewlery into a volcano came to be 1500 pages long or however long it was. In any case, what you’re criticizing may simply be a genre trope that you dislike. It’s perfectly fair to dislike it, and to assert that dislike in a review, but it seems like you’re not acknowledging that

(1) Sloooooow pacing / “worldbuilding” is endemic to the fantasy genre and thus its exercise in the comic is probably deliberate and not “wanton.”

(2) Morrison is notorious for sowing the seeds of future plotlines well in advance of their coming up. His dedication to foreshadowing, in fact, has resulted in some really bad comics (maybe this one) where none of the dialogue makes any sense since it’s all meant to set up some upcoming plotline while still holding onto an air of mystery (“mystery” usually translating into bewilderment for the reader). Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that your harping on the pointlessness of the issue is not backed up by Morrison’s track record, as he’s consistently written comics where more than three quarters of the panels have some implications for the bigger picture of his plot.

Also, as a Morrison comic that’s been years (?) in the making, I expect that if Joe the Barbarian does wind up going off the rails, it won’t happen until at least issue 6, when Morrison realizes he’s written 1/3 of the story he’s wanted to tell in 2/3 of his alotted space. Ha, actually, that would kind of vindicate your “FIVE PAGES!” rant.

You said bad things about a comic written by morrison? On this blog? This is not gonna end well.

What an immature reaction to this comic. I really expect better from this blog, either take review-writing-lessons from one of the Gregs (who manage to criticize a funnybook without devolving to capitalized sentence fragments and immature humor) or just spend your time doing something else, please. I expect this kind of thoughtless raving from the most immature of my students (in whose works I at least mostly find hints of talent or progression) at the outset of puberty, but not from a writer on this blog.

Also, please don’t use Scott McCloud if you choose to entirely misrepresent his ideas.

Bill Reed, is it really necessary to mention your ennui and boredom with and depression over comics in every single post? Whenever I see that banjobear avatar my mind just sighs. If you and comics just don’t get along anymore (which I find baffling – would you ever be completely turned off movies), maybe you need some trial seperation instead of mentioning it compulsively on the internet.

Well, yes, I’ve seen suburbia (good god, I wish I weren’t in my parents’ house right now!), but I would think that this work deserves its own setting. If I’m free to substitute any version of suburbia I’ve ever seen for the setting of this work, why shouldn’t I be able to substitute any plot, themes, or lessons from another work into this one? So, I’m saying, either this is latitude the authors deserve to take, or this is a story so route that I don’t need to read it. You may be right, but I’m saying that it’s an all or nothing proposition.

I’m not going to pile on you, MarkAndrew. You do good stuff. This post seems like it’s from the heart.

Bill Reed–There is no way I believe you’d rather have a tasteful business-casual polo than a Batman henchman shirt. I’ve been here too long to buy that!

That was me, Dan Felty, last post! Tell your friends!

Dan Felty’s got thoughts! I’ma buy stock!

“holy shit you are a sad man on the internet”

I hope this guy shows up on every single thread to post this exact same thing.

And now I’m totally confused. I did not expect all these people to take such umbrage. I’m out of touch with the CSBG community.

Wow, that first post said anonymous last time I was here. Chris Jones still got a bargain!

i’m *pretty* sure this is parody…

…*pretty* sure…


I’ll admit that even I can’t tell, and I’m usually quite good at this stuff.

I’m rooting for parody!

Im tired and dont feel like scrolling through to find the post, but to the guy or just anyone who hasn’t seen much of Sean murphy’s artwork, i HIGHLY suggest seeking out issues 245-246 of Hellblazer, written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Sean Murphy. It is a truly fantastic 2 part story that is intense and contains some of my personal favorite art ever in a HB comic. They are somewhat hard to find, but i believe a TPB is coming out soon that contains these issues and a couple other random HB stories.

Just wait until the kid goes back to school the next day.

I guess I am the only person who will say this:


Final Crisis was bad enough but apparently the man is still at it.
Ignore the haters, but you could be less hyperbolic next time something this bad crawls your way.

I have to admit I was kind of underwhelmed by the story. The art is amazing but the story so far hasn’t wowed me like other Morrison/Vertigo books.

Teatime Brutality

January 21, 2010 at 4:29 am


Whether the parody’s intentional or not, this is genius.
Can some arrangement be made with DC so that this can be reprinted in the trade?

Matter-Pooper Lad

January 21, 2010 at 5:13 am

Morrison took 5 pages to walk the kid home from school? Heck, Bendis could have done it in ten!

(With a second tie-in mini-series showing the same event from the viewpoint of the man on the street…)

It was a dollar!
And the house is important for the story. This is one of those “the house is a character” kind of stories!

“You said bad things about a comic written by morrison? On this blog? This is not gonna end well.”

Well, some readers already personally insulted the reviewer. And the cavalry of Morrison apologists already arrived, explaining that the comic is really awesome and promising to anyone who reads it “You’ll see the truth then”, which sounds almost religiously reverent.

“What an immature reaction to this comic.”

And what immature reactions to this review. The “Moz-can-do-no-wrong” attitude, and the following personal attacks on the reviewer who dared criticize a Morrison comic, are both pretty disturbing.

Now, I haven’t read this book yet, and don’t know when or if I will. I’ve liked some of Morrison’s books and disliked others (and thought that “Final Crisis” was a grandiose waste of time). For all I know this book can be as good as Morrison’s apostles promise it will be, or as bad as the reviewer considers it to be. But the ‘shrieking-banshees’ response to a negative review reveals a frightening level of zealotry. Grant Morrison is a good writer but he’s not the messiah; it IS possible for him to write a less-than-perfect comic book.

Paul Moses: Haters gonna get hated on.

Les Fontenelle: I think the comments here (at least the more well thought out ones) have sufficiently pointed out why this is an actual case of the reviewer not getting it.

And really, this is just a poorly written review.

@Les Fontenelle

It’s pretty clear the emotional reaction was to the hyperbolic screed of a review, not to the mere thought of critique of Morrison (gasp, monocle drop). So your, let’s say, grandiose pronouncements on the collective psychology of a bunch of strangers who frequent a website in their spare time might be a little…premature? Or just silly, I haven’t decided yet.

“Haters gonna get hated on.”
Haters gonna get hated on by other haters. It’s the 21st century’s Circle of Life.

“So your, let’s say, grandiose pronouncements on the collective psychology of a bunch of strangers who frequent a website in their spare time might be a little…premature? Or just silly, I haven’t decided yet.”

As opposed to your diagnostic of a stranger who frequents a website on his spare time, I suppose?

Y’know what’s premature? The praise and rationalizations that this book is getting, while doing some things that are routinely criticized in OTHER books. Seriously, if Bendis wrote a book with five pages of establishing shots, many of the people hailing this book’s brilliance would be tearing it to shreds. Something that is called “decompression” when used elsewhere is being praised as “deliberate worldbuilding” here. I really wonder what all these people praising this first issue would have thought of it if they didn’t know who wrote it. Without the expectation that Morrison Will Have A Point And It Will Be Brilliant, would this issue receive the same praise and rationalizations?

As I said, this may very well be a really good book; but the review’s undeniably hyperbolic tone is just as exaggerated as the gushing-praise-mixed-with-righteous-anger present in some of the reactions to the review. I’m not defending the reviewer’s comments, even because I still haven’t read the book to decide what I think about it; but some of the reactions to this review have been as overblown in their outrage as the review itself was in its condemnation of the book.

Les Fontenelle: I suggest reading the book before criticizing the people defending it. The pages clearly ARE deliberate worldbuilding. And decompression isn’t bad in and of itself. It just has to be used effectively.

Ive not read this and had no intention to. Read this article by chance and found it quite funny in an over the top kind of way, and even though I think an article written in this manner is cool everynow and then I dont think a critique like this can ever be taken seriously. For a book that you rate so lowly you only really go over one flaw. Anyway, you succeeded in piquing my interest in this title, afterr eading the posts here and following some links to interviews with Morrison (who I’m no big fan of either way – Ive only read WE3 and liked it but not read anything else by him) I will now definately pick this up when released as a trade.

Chip, I don’t need to read the book to see the almost-religious Moz devotion in some of the responses to this review. Reading the book might make me decide whether I like it or not, but I don’t think it would justify all the anger towards the reviewer.

But I don’t want to get into a flame war, or to become a target for all the righteous indignation that the reviewer attracted. It’s not like a have a beef with anybody, or even a formed opinion about this book. For all I know, this is the greatest comic ever, where Morrison is unleashing his full power upon us. :)

Now I gotta work. :(


@MarkAndrew: is your real name Hannibal Tatu? Although I guess he would just say “No…just no” and dismiss the comic (as I’m sure he will).

Anyway, I agree with the general opinion: this is a poorly written review. Ok, you hated the comic, you’re pissed off, but that’s no excuse for this shoddy work.

As for the Morrison discussion, I never understood why his fans sometimes are criticised…just for being his fans. I loved Batman RIP and Final Crisis. Am I saying that just because it’s Morrison? No, I’m saying that because I read the comics and loved them.

I feel like I should hate both the person who wrote the review and everybody who has posted in this thread, including myself.

(Cronin I’ll mildly tolerate instead of actively hating. The rest of you get my icy stare of contempt. Contempt, I say!)

Since I’m sick of decompressed comics, I appreciated MarkAndrew’s rant of a review. I would’ve made it perhaps 25% shorter, but I think he hit upon an essential truth that bears repeating. Namely, that decompressed comics are generally a waste of space and money.

Morrison’s defenders tell us the comic isn’t a total loss because the house will be a character. It will turn into a magic kingdom. What, have y’all read issues #2-8 already? Or did you get this from a back-cover blurb? If it’s not in the comic itself, what the creator may do or intends to do is irrelevant.

You’re guessing the whole series will be better–and it may well be–but that doesn’t help the first issue. Reviewers are supposed to go by what’s on the page, not the series’ potential to be another “masterpiece.” MarkAndrew has done that and most of his critics haven’t.

Morrison and decompression in the same sentence? Whoa.

“If you’re going to dismiss a writer’s ideas simply because he uses swear words, you’re going to miss out on a lot of great writers.”

Says the Goddamn Chad Nevett ^_^

Rob: So have you read the issue? Leaving aside that Morrison has talked about the high concept of the series in interviews, because that apparently doesn’t matter, I thought that the way Joe talked about not wanting to leave the house, blames his dead father for the situation with the house, his mother talked about the house, and the way the artist spends a great deal of time and effort focusing on the layout and contents of the house, made it fairly clear that the house would in fact be a focal point of the comic.

I have nothing against articles like this. Just don’t call them “reviews”. I don’t know what the book is about…

The complaints herein could easily apply to a lot of first issues for an eight-issue limited series. Take Blackest Night, for example. What really happened in that issue – a lot of talk about dead superheroes and back-from-the-dead superheroes, a few super-zombies rise up, and a “big moment” at the end in the form of a gruesome death.

In Joe the Barbarian, we get a lot of talk about Joe’s life and his house, a tour through Joe’s house, and a big moment at the end where Joe is hallucinating and his house has become a fantasy world populated by its Joe’s toys.

While the content is quite different, the amount that actually “happens” is pretty close to the same. Now, if you believe that eight issues is too much space to tell a single story, then fine – that’s an odd, arbitrary aesthetic notion, but you’re entitled to it. But if you’re complaining that eight issues is too much to tell this story because its about a ten-year-old boy and his house, and boys and houses are booooring, then what were you doing picking up “Joe the Barbarian” to begin with?

Oh, shoot me… I thought it was good! Yes, more could have happened in the issue, but I liked seeing the setting in such detail, assuming it would be important later, especially after seeing the last few pages. Few writers take the time to really give people a chance to see the world before blowing it all to hell.

So, could the issue have been better? Umm…. yeah!

Art? Amazing…
Story? Meh…
Overall? Pretty good…
For a buck? Worth it.
Will I get issue 2? Yep!

I’m not sure whether to break down and cry or stand up and applaud.

If Grant Morrison wanted to foreshadow that Joe’s house will turn into a magic kingdom, he should’ve actually foreshadowed it. You know, with words and stuff. Showing a stroll through a house and nothing else isn’t foreshadowing; it’s showing a stroll through a house and nothing else.

Here’s a lesson in how to foreshadow something. In this case, the idea of a home as a potential “magic kingdom.” If Morrison is reading this, maybe it’ll help him with his writing.


CAPTION: Joe’s suburban home wasn’t any kind of magic castle. Not Camelot ringing with the jangle of armor and shouts of good cheer. Not a Disney attraction with kids screaming for adventure.

It wasn’t even one of those crumbling hulks that British families inherit from doddering great-uncles and have to sell because of the inheritance tax. At least that would’ve hinted of past glories, a history worth remembering.



CAPTION: The living room wasn’t a great hall where champions toasted their king’s health, gnawed on legs of mutton, and pinched serving wenches.


CAPTION: The den wasn’t an alchemist’s lab where a gnarled wizard labored to turn lead into gold.


CAPTION: The basement wasn’t a dank dungeon where prisoners in chains rotted without hope.


CAPTION: The hallway wasn’t hung with elaborate tapestries of hunters on horseback pursuing a stag.


This is a five-minute first draft of what Morrison could’ve written. Given an hour or two of crafting sentences, I’m sure any of us could do better. The point is that it’s actual foreshadowing in the story itself, not “foreshadowing” implied by blurbs or interviews or an awareness of Morrison’s previous work.

Rob: At the end of the issue, we can tell that Joe’s house is turning into a magical kingdom (or that he’s hallucinating this happening), because we see it happen. It didn’t need overbearing narration to convey this idea. Again, have you read the comic?

“I’ll admit that even I can’t tell, and I’m usually quite good at this stuff.

I’m rooting for parody!”

Me too, because otherwise I worry that Mark suffered some kind of brain trauma since the time he last posted on here.

Bill Reed, is it really necessary to mention your ennui and boredom with and depression over comics in every single post?

Two or three times is incessant now? What a fast-paced dog-eat-dog world we live in.


Your five minute draft could be polished and polished and polished and polished and polished and it would still be redundant to the artwork. And somewhat insulting to the reader. It might as well read “Oh, hey, look! Later I’m going to be switchin’ over to a MAGICAL KINGDOM OF FUN AND WONDERMENT! I don’t think you’re smart enough to realize that I’m showing you this in contrast to my MAGICAL KINGDOM OF FUN AND WODNERMENT so I will jsut tell you, o moron reader, that Joe lives in an UNFUN PLACE OF OUT-OF-DATE FURNITURE! So you get it at the end. Because you won’t.”

As a narrative device, silence can indeed be golden. Especially when you’ve got an artist (as Morrison plainly does) who can use his skills to convey things subtextually.

Which isn’t to say that I’m a fan of decompression. Or Morrison’s monthly storytelling style. At this point I’ve pretty much given up on reading Morrison monthly. I tradewait so I won’t have to spend the next eight to twelve months watching this story unfold in Morrisontime.

Adamantium Wholesaler

January 21, 2010 at 10:00 am

Rob: please don’t create a parody-within-a-parody. It’s just confusing.

You don’t need to foreshadow that the house is magical (to Joe, at least) when you actually show that he sees the house as transcending three-dimensional space, due to its sheer interior magnitude.

Adamantium Wholesaler

January 21, 2010 at 10:02 am

…or maybe it’s just a really big house. But I frankly thought that it looked too big to be true.

(That’s what she said! Sorry.)

[…] was handed a copy of Joe the Barbarian.  I say handed, but I paid a hard earned dollar for it.  It’s well rendered, I’ll […]

IGN Comics: Speaking of the house – in this first issue, you really take the time and space to establish the environment of the house, and Sean Murphy really accentuates the setting.

Morrison: Sean’s fantastic, and he makes it all look so real while at the same time keeping that cartoony verve and kinetic energy. Joe’s house really looks like it’s lived in. We have that walk through in issue 1 to establish all the ordinary locations that will shortly be transformed into mega, epic versions of themselves.

One of the main complaints about comics as an art form has always been that the author never knows when to get out of the way and let the pictures advance the narrative. If you need to have everything that is happening or will happen spelled out in explicit detail, it sounds like a silver age DC comic.

Morrison: I told Sean what I needed, and then he went and designed a house with a plan and elevation – all that stuff they taught you in technical drawing classes at school. We knew where all the rooms were, where all the stairs were. Everything becomes really significant in each point of the journey down stairs, as you can imagine. Joe’s walkthrough in issue 1 is entirely in the service of the story. The fact that he leaves the front door open shows he’s already zoning out. The place where he drops his school satchel on the stairs plays into the events of issue 4 and so on…

If Grant Morrison wanted to foreshadow that Joe’s house will turn into a magic kingdom, he should’ve actually foreshadowed it. You know, with words and stuff.

That’s exactly what sucks about American comics these days. The artist’s role in a comic shouldn’t just be drawing women in thongs and men standing around with horrible posture. They should tell the story just as much as the writer, maybe even more. I mean, this isn’t a novel. It’s a comic book….with PICTURES. They should let those pictures actually do something now and then.

I’ll admit, the main reason I’m waiting for the trade on this is because Morrison kept hyping this up as a “post 9/11 fantasy”. It’s 2010. It’s been almost a DECADE. I’ve had nearly ten years of “Let’s create a post-9/11 fantasy!”

It’s time to move on.

Still, that samurai warrior rat on the cover of issue two looks pretty cool…

Eh, I’ll wait for the trade.

it’s been said elsewhere, but it must be said here:

Grant Morrison: “it’s really this wild fantasy story about a kid who’s dying, and he has twenty minutes to get downstairs and save his own life. And in that twenty minutes, he experiences an entire fantasy epic adventure based around the contents of his house.”

I haven’t read the issue, but just looking at those pages in light of that quote, and I get chills. This’a be awesome, and if you miss it, too bad for you. But hey, nobody’s forcing anybody to read or like anything.

but, hey, take a look at the first issue of “The Filth” and let us know what you think ; )

By the way: Having someone write a deliberate straw rant about a book one likes the day before posting a gushing review the next? Kind of lame.

Don’t be insecure, guys. By this point everyone knows and expects you to automatically and innately love Morrison comics.

Pre-emptively portraying anyone who doesn’t as stupid and bigoted=more lame.


As a Morrison fan who frequently gets irritated with Morrison apologists condescending to people when he writes something pointlessly obtuse, I thought this was a great comic.

@Anonymous: why do you assume it’s “automatically and innately”? Like I said on my previous post, I liked Batman RIP and Final Crisis. Why can’t that be my honest opinion and not some Pavlovian response to a Morrison comic?

Nobody that posts here and is a Morrison fan gets paid by him to plug is books? What possible reason do we have to just blindly accept everythin he writes?

You want some negative opinions? Ok. Flex Mentallo: didn’t like it. We3: enjoyed it but didn’t see what all the fuss was about. The Filth: found it hard to understand.

That was my honest opinion and you’re also doing what you’re criticising on your post: you’re pre-emptively portraying everybody that likes Morrison as mindless automatons.

“Nobody that posts here and is a Morrison fan gets paid by him to plug is books?”

That wasn’t supposed to be a question,my bad.

Too bad if you didn’t like it, because I LOVED IT! :D
Screw you! I liked the way you crticized it though.. At least you are not a hater who just says “this is hsit” and stops there.. so, I don’t understand you, but I respect you.


In the first draft of this article, the writer was obviously trying to mimic Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Why did you change it to “vision” instead of just dropping it altogether?

This review was an insult to the community of CBR.

Holy $hit Man! Get out the damn house sometimes. Calm. Down.

What a douche.

I should note, the above comment was directed to the reviewer, not anybody that has commented here.

The baseline critique seems fair.

The overblown tone, especially in this setting, seems designed to provoke exactly the response it’s gotten.

Both sides seem to have some merit. The house-walk probably isn’t pointless; it probably does serve as a map-like thing with which to compare Joe’s later adventures. However, that sort of set-up is arguably less than awesome storytelling. Whatever it may be down the road, now, in the comic the audience has bought, it’s still just a kid walking through the house. It could be beautiful and poignant at the end of the story, but it’s not immediately all that entertaining, and that counts in fiction. This kind of world-building tends to work better as a backdrop to some other preliminary action that you can then easter egg (yeah, I’m verbing that) later, not as the main thrust of what is essentially chapter one.

So, did you like the issue or not? Your review is a little too subtle and nuanced.

I learned just about everything I know about the DC characters from watching the Justice League cartoon, and even so, I didn’t really have any trouble following Final Crisis. I think that complaint is just the result of lazy readers. The only thing I didn’t get was that space vampire character that appeared at the very end, because I hadn’t read whatever comic introduced him. But, you know what? I realized he looked like those other space characters it had been focusing on, I understood he was some kind of “ultimate evil”, and I just went with it.

Also, I’ve never read this comic, but just from looking at the first few pages there, I’m fairly confident I could go down to a comic shop, look at just about any random BatSuperDuck-ManAmerica comic and it would be less appealing than Joe the Barbarian out of sheer serialized mediocrity.


Download preview pages for Joe the Barbarian, and see for yourself.

[…] Thanks to Brian Wood for bringing this review to my attention of the new Grant Morrison/Sean Murphy comic Joe The Barbarian, from Vertigo.  I […]

Truly dreadful. What a waste of paper. Oh look, a Batman cameo. Wow.

Awful. Just awful.

January 21, 2010 at 2:11 pm

I especially love this part:

“Audience: You just don’t realize the subtle genius of the writer!

Shut the fuck up. Seriously.”

I wouldn’t say “subtle genius” necessarily, but he completely and utterly missed the point of those five pages, and then went on this bullshit reactionary tirade. But of course, we can;t tell him he missed the point, because he already covered that base.

This is seriously the worst, most unprofessional review I have ever read. I am not a Morrison fanboy and while I don’t hate him, I don’t think I have ever completed anything he has written other than All-Star Superman (which was brilliant). I have been meaning to read The Invisibles for quite some time though.

I haven’t even read this issue….but this review is absolute shit. I can’t even believe CBR wants to be associated with this rant. It belongs on a message board. Somebody on a different message board I frequent put it best regarding this review: “I could imagine spittle spraying from his twinkie crumb encrusted lips as he mouthed the words he forcefully typed.”

Awful. Just awful.

January 21, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Just read the issue, and stand by my comments above even more now, hastily and poorly written though they were.

Wow, the author of this piece is nowhere near as funny, smart, or perceptive as he would like to think. He should be embarrassed to have written this tripe, and will be within a year or two. Awful, awful writing. Just terrible.

Horrible review. You’re meant to be a writer. None of that qualifies.

And I should say that it’s not about agreeing or disagreeing with the review — it’s just the way you presented your argument, childish and asinine.

Tee Hee. Funny stuff and, parody or not, I can’t help noticing all the posts defending this issue along the lines of “well, if you’d read any interviews you’d realise…” Rather makes Mr Andrew’s point I think.

Whatever happens, the sparseness of this issue makes me think I’d be as well to wait for the inevitable trade rather than shrug my way through a similarly unsatisfying chunk of non-story on a monthly (at best) basis. And I got it for nothing.

I love how the people who are always after each other to stop taking things too seriously are dogpiling on this piece. I got a kick out of it myself, especially when partnered with the quite nice but much more expected entry that follows.

I can’t help noticing all the posts defending this issue along the lines of “well, if you’d read any interviews you’d realise…” Rather makes Mr Andrew’s point I think.

Note that the only interview I reference in my piece is the text box that Murphy had in the issue itself. And even then, it was just to determine who designed the house, not to note the importance of the house, as that’s plain to see from the text itself. Heck, you could argue Morrison went OVERBOARD with making the point that the house was important.

This is often the point where a writer trots out the Jonathan Swift “Modest Proposal” defense. But you know, Swift’s satires were both clever and aimed to make some pretty potent points (in the case of “Modest Proposal”, about the mistreatment of Ireland; in the case of Gulliver’s Travels, about a variety of subjects). Even if this bit is Swiftian in intent, aimed at making fun of one type of bulletin-board nerdrage while deliberately egging on another kind of bulletin-board nerdrage in response, it’s not what you’d call a high-priority target. Basically this is a turd in the punchbowl of this site. There are sites where you kind of expect and maybe even come to appreciate a lot of naughty turd-bombs designed to puncture various pretentions, but to date, this hasn’t been the mood round these parts.

I’m leaning towards this being a parody myself. The problem is that the internet as a medium doesn’t carry sarcasm and ironic statements as well as, say, Colbert ranting on his TV show.

That being said, this comic is decompressed, and if you saw this in a Bendis comic, people would be complaining up and down that it’s a waste of their money, writing for the trade, etc . Morrison apparently gets a pass for his previous work (and that’s fine, I don’t agree with it, but lots of people seem fine with this) but when discussing the merits of a single issue comic, it does warrant a mention in a review and can rightfully be criticized for it.

I haven’t even heard of this book before. The art is fantastic, I’ll be keeping an eye on how it turns out and will probably pick up the trade. Thanks, MarkAndrew!

I am not so sure about this being a parody. If so, it was a lame one.

Here’s a taste of some of his writing ‘style’ from other columns here at CBR, and this is required little to no effort to find:

“Why. Why…why…why….why…why? Does it take. One hundred and seventeen panels. For. ANYTHING. To. Happen. It juuuuussssst gooooeossss soooooooo slooooooowwww. How many pages do we need to show a guy running? Or that epic, gripping, three mastrubation*-onto-doll-clothes sequence?”

“I am honestly somewhat terrified by people that freak-the-fuck out when a fictional character is presented in a way they don’t like? Well, them folks make me all sorts of nervous. And being (again) kind of a bad person, I enjoy the silly, silly pain they undergo when a character they like is presented in a way they don’t like.” (Presented for slight irony)

“Well, GOSH. If this comic was ice cream it would be chocolate chip sucky-butt flavored.”

So, parody? I am leaning towards ‘no’. He really just boils down to a shitty message board poster with a voice on a popular blog. I think maybe he just tries to be funny ‘outrageous’ and fails, tremendously.

Yeah, I’m going to go with satire. Failed satire, but still satire. Nobody could have sit down and wrote all those words in that order with all those CAPs and punctuation marks and expected it to be taken seriously as a competent piece of analysis. The joke’s on us.

Whether done in parody or in earnest, this was a complete waste of time and utterly douchebaggy. One of the worst things to ever appear on CBR. Kinda’ sad that some trollbait thing like this gets 100+ comments, but an actual constructive review gets like 1/5th the activity.


Who the Hell is Mark Andrew?

January 21, 2010 at 3:59 pm

I haven’t even seen Joe the Barbarian yet, so I don’t know if I’d agree with Andrew about disliking the book.

I do, however, have the only response a column such as this should receive.


Christian Otholm

January 21, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Regardless if this is a parody or indeed a review written by someone clinically diagnosed with some manner of retardation (indeed the Ad Hominem attack on the artist and writer seems to suggest the latter), this is clearly what Goya meant, when he created the etching “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters.”

Jesus Christ.

Christian Otholm

January 21, 2010 at 4:02 pm

This, as in, the comment section.

Hahahaha,, and now all of the “You guys are stupid for posting/reacting/etc” people start showing up.

Oh, irony, you is ever present.

Christian Otholm

January 21, 2010 at 4:14 pm

I wasn’t refering to all the people commenting. I was refering to the ones who actually don’t think the review is utterly terrible.

Nice job coming across as a jackass. So I’m guessing you just missed the whole point of this issue right? This is about a kid who doesn’t like the world he is in, and has to pull back into his own imagination for any sense of adventure. He hates the real world. First pages, he is drawing, as in, drawing from his mind. The real world is just a careless mother, a dead father, abusive bullies, crappy rain, and isolation. The long trip into his room, is an intentionally boring and drab trip that grounds the kid in reality. It makes you feel the mundaneness that the character feels. It makes you share his world view, and thus, side with him as the protagonist. Then with the dreamscape stuff, you are supposed to be interested based on the contrast between it and the real world. All of this seems to be lost on you. I, personally, look forward to the next issue.

Whoever wrote this review is a terrible writer, and more likely than not has terrible — or at least an unrefined — taste in comics.


” Y’know what’s premature? The praise and rationalizations that this book is getting, while doing some things that are routinely criticized in OTHER books. Seriously, if Bendis wrote a book with five pages of establishing shots, many of the people hailing this book’s brilliance would be tearing it to shreds. Something that is called “decompression” when used elsewhere is being praised as “deliberate worldbuilding” here. I really wonder what all these people praising this first issue would have thought of it if they didn’t know who wrote it. Without the expectation that Morrison Will Have A Point And It Will Be Brilliant, would this issue receive the same praise and rationalizations? ”

Bendis did at the beginning of New Avengers: The Collective, where he and Steve McNiven spent five splash pages showing abstract energy coming from space to destroy a small Alaskan town only used as canon fodder, and the backstory for a character who to this day remains a cipher. Morrison and Murphy used this to establish the environment of the protagonist of what appears to be a very environment- and protagonist- driven story.

Reducing things to accusations of creator fanboyism is too simplistic to accurately portray the contrasts between the creators’ actual works, and you would like us to discuss the work without the influence of the cult of personality, right?

Grant Morrison from his IGN Interview: Joe’s walkthrough in issue 1 is entirely in the service of the story. The fact that he leaves the front door open shows he’s already zoning out. The place where he drops his school satchel on the stairs plays into the events of issue 4 and so on…

Morrison has never been known to needlessly decompress before (quite the opposite really.) Pretty much everything he writes seems to be for a reason. I don’t understand complaining about Part 1 of a story without giving him a chance to prove that his story choices have a purpose

Brian, I hadn’t read your piece at the time. It was more a comment about all the people coming straight on to explain why it was an important sequence because the comic’s going to be about x, y & z. How do you know all that when the first issue’s just out and none of those things were made clear? I’m not one for reading editorial columns unless I’m on the toilet for an especially protracted period.

The two articles make an amusing comparison.

This review was too long. A simple “meh” would suffice.

I agree, Cosh, that, say, if the critique is “it wasn’t made clear” then sure, “but he explained it in an interview” is not a great explanation. I agree. I think the importance of the house is clear in the comic itself, but sure, if people are only going outside the text to explain the importance of the house, then that’s not cool. Luckily, I don’t think you need to go outside the text to see how important the house is.

I’m now kinda hoping that the next issue has even more of the establishing shots of the house, just so we get another long, insane tirade from MA.


January 21, 2010 at 6:01 pm

It was more a comment about all the people coming straight on to explain why it was an important sequence because the comic’s going to be about x, y & z. How do you know all that when the first issue’s just out and none of those things were made clear?

Because we’re informed readers?

There’s been plenty of publicity for the book.
Matt just posted one where Morrison spells out the importance of the sequence, personally I was running off of an earlier one, where he mentioned the entire book will be set in the house, with Joe fighting his way back down to the bottom of it.
As such, when you his journey up to the house, it doesn’t take much knowledge of storytelling to understand that this is setting it up, showing you the house, as it appears in the normal world, before beginning the journey through the distorted ‘through the looking glass’ take on the house.
But even without the interviews? I think it should be pretty obvious the house would be important, just from the fact they linger on it.
Morrison’s not a newcomer, he’s got a solid track record one can look at it, and so you can assume he knows what he’s doing when he spends extra time on a house.


January 21, 2010 at 6:04 pm

I’m now kinda hoping that the next issue has even more of the establishing shots of the house, just so we get another long, insane tirade from MA.

I’m hoping we never see the house again!

I had absolutely no interest in reading this comic, but the two wildly disparate reviews have convinced me to check it out, just to see which one of you I agree with. Or neither.

It’s funny how people talk about the importance of the house, talk about interviews about the series, Morrison’s track record, etc, etc, but when you just look at the single issue by itself, on its own merits, yeah, I can see where Mark Andrew is coming from. His reaction is completely hyperbolic and INTERNETZEZ, but the main point is somewhat solid.

Sir Hartley McGovern

January 21, 2010 at 8:20 pm

I can honestly say that this was one of the most useless reviews I have ever read. You could have summed everything you had to say in two words “It sucked”.

I have to say, those are some of the most gorgeous establishing shots I’ve ever seen.

I honestly think it’s a shame that a site that usually produces pretty good content gave bandwidth to this review. It looks like the kind of thing a thirteen year old would write to prove how edgy they were.

Those two pages were GORGEOUS. The reviewer just convinced me I need this comic. Morrison is a solid writer and the art is fantastic. Its just comics people. And I’d snag this book on the art alone. And just for a dollar? Fugedaboutit!


January 21, 2010 at 9:30 pm

It’s funny how people talk about the importance of the house, talk about interviews about the series, Morrison’s track record, etc, etc, but when you just look at the single issue by itself, on its own merits, yeah, I can see where Mark Andrew is coming from.

On the other hand, a chap on the CBR DC Imprints board, who has a diabetic daughter, reckons it’s a great depiction of diabetes – heck, the shot of the hall through the open door, with it all distorted and stretched out looks a lot like how people I know with Epilepsy have described the initial stages of going into an attack, and though it’s a different condition, I imagine there would be crossover with the brains reactions/coping functions leading into it.

I don’t blame him, as I didn’t notice till I read someone else’s comments on it, but Mark is also off on the scenes of the kid getting picked on were to show he feels alienated – the bully takes away his candy bar, which is what triggers the attack.
So his claim that there’s no plot development is off.

(I should also point out, that re-reading Mark’s review a day after the initial reading softens it a little – the first time round I was pretty shocked halfway through that it wasn’t a parody. Well, it may have been a parody, but that he really didn’t like the book. I think every reader of the blog should now buy every issue and mail it in to him, so his house is flooded with them).

If this article is, somehow, an attempt to write ”journalism”, the writer is to be fired immediately for the lack of basic understanding of the concept behind the series and rude, unprofessional behavior the industry doesn’t need.

If it’s a joke, it doesn’t work. It’s convoluted and falls on its ass like a toddler drunken on beer.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

You know what was really slow? The film 2001: A Space Odyssey. I find it too slow for me. But I can still appreciate what a cinematic accomplishment it is.

Parody or not, this was a waste of time.

FunkyGreenJerusalem: I have diabetes. I’ve been on the bleeding edge of going into a coma. I have never, not once, hallucinated that my toys were coming to life because of my low blood sugar.

I even looked up “diabetic hallucinations” on Google, to make sure I didn’t have a grave misunderstanding of my own ailment. There’s nothing. It’s a nonsense condition and it’s one of the things that’s keeping me from really digging into the book.

Diabetes is one of those catch-all conditions, kind of like, as you mentioned, epilepsy, where writers think they can just do what they want with it. “His lungs are filling up with water. I KNEW this would happen if his blood sugar got too high!” “Quick, he’s going into a coma! Make sure he stops himself from breaking his kneecaps!”

I don’t even want people to be THAT educated about the stuff, I just think it would be better if a writer didn’t hinge most of the story on an aspect of it that doesn’t actually exist.

Teatime Brutality

January 22, 2010 at 1:18 am

@Chris Jones.
“I even looked up “diabetic hallucinations” on Google, to make sure I didn’t have a grave misunderstanding of my own ailment. There’s nothing.”

Really? There seems to be when I try it.

Obviously it’s not as simple as “If you’re diabetic then you WILL have hallucinations” or as extreme as “…and they will cause you to visit Narnia!”

But a google search does seem to throw up plenty of sites out there listing visual and auditory hallucinations as *possible* symptoms of low blood sugar, and posts on forums from diabetics who’ve experienced them.

Wow. Talk about overreaction. douche. I think if you’re going to claim to be a writer and publish a review, make it not sound like a pissed 8th grader. It wasn’t even a funny rant, it was just annoying and exhausting. I hope Grant comes and kicks your dick in. And I’m not even a Morrison fan usually.

Teatime Brutality

January 22, 2010 at 1:28 am

“make it not sound like a pissed 8th grader […]I hope Grant comes and kicks your dick in.”

Oh! I see. EVERYONE’s doing parody.

I just feel embarassed now.

Teatime, from what I’ve experienced if it says anything like that, it’s usually due to a stroke or something more RELATED to blood sugar than anything to do with having diabetes.

The main thing I’m peeved about is a quote where Grant says, and I believe this is a direct quote, “Joe is a diabetic, which means that you start hallucinating if your blood sugar gets too low”. And that’s just an acutely ludicrous thing to say.

If you’re that much more concerned with plot than art maybe you should stick to non-comic books. A dollar for nothing BUT those five pages would be more than worthwhile.

Teatime Brutality

January 22, 2010 at 2:39 am


Oh, absolutely.

I remember that quote, and yeah, it was a load of old bobbins and a very sloppy way to represent the issue, but happily there’s nothing like that anywhere in the comic.

There’s nothing there to universalise it into “This is what diabetes is like for everyone”, just the experience of one particular diabetic kid, and one that seems analogous to the sort of thing that lots of diabetics have reported experiencing going into hypo.

‘Djtechman’s experiences on this thread, for example….
…sound very much like Joe’s.

I remember that quote, and yeah, it was a load of old bobbins and a very sloppy way to represent the issue, but happily there’s nothing like that anywhere in the comic.

True, and since we’ve discussed that interviews can’t be used to support a work, they can’t be used to take the work down, either, right? ;)

I have not read this comic nor do I plan to do so. But by god that is one poorly, no not poorly, atrociously written ‘review.’

Shame on you, CBR.

I do appreciate all the work CBR is doing. Read it everyday. But a review of this quality just shouldn’t be published here. There should be a certain standard concerning such things.

I don’t understand complaining about Part 1 of a story without giving him a chance to prove that his story choices have a purpose

Actually I disagree with this.

I haven’t read this (and won’t until the TPB comes out) so I don’t know if this comic is an offender, but if you produce a comic in 8 parts then you do have a responsibility to make each part a worthwhile read. Otherwise you should just skip singles and bring it out as an OGN.

Actually re-reading what I just quoted, I’m not actually disagreeing as much as I thought I was. Morrison doesn’t have to explain the story choices in the first issue as long as it does in itself provide something worthwhile.

Agreed. If it is released in serialized form, each chapter should be good on their own, but stuff like “He hasn’t explained X!” should wait until the story is over.

Dear MarkAndrew,

I was horrified! Horrified I tell you! Horrified to read this “review”. I spent at least 45 seconds reading it before I gave up. Gave UP I tell you! Gave up because it was so badly written and it caused my brain to cease up!
45 seconds that I wil NEVER get back! NEVEEEEERRRR!

NEVERR! 45 Seconds!!


You lost me 45 seconds of my life!!!! 45 seconds!!

A man can build a KINGDOM given 45 seconds!! You pig!!!

Oh! And now I’m wasting even more time writing this!! Is there no end to your putridity?!! You keep stealing my tiiiiime!

No? You vengeful ignorant…! You call that a review? You call that a review buster?

My MOTHER can write a better review in her sleep! While sleeping I tell you!

Asleep! A

s in unconcious!!

Unconcious you BASTARD!!!

My mother will be unconciously writing a review of “Joe the Barbarian #1″ because of youuuu!!!

How can you do that to her???


Do you have a heart of stone? My poor mother! forcing her to write reviews in her sleep! It’s not fair!!


HOW CAN Markandrew get AWAY WITH THIS???





Yours Sincerely

Nice art btw,

In that comic I mean…

Ha! I was waiting for someone to do that

Is there more to the comic than the first five pages? because that appears to be all that’s reviewed.

You want to know why Grant Morrison is great? A comic of his that takes 5 to 15 minutes to read, depending how long you like to soak up the imagery, spawns hours of sprawling entertainment beyond the pages.

ok, first of all this review is shit dunno who the f…. is writing it but his totally screwed or doesnt know a good comic when u see it. Let me tell you, this comic is totally different the story is so wierd and confusing, but its so damn good that it makes me want to know more. Its got this twisted mystery going on of you dont know if the kid is screwed in the head, high or is going threw a different dimension. Im not saying this is WOW the best piece of vertigo series but it has something different. Also the art is awsome and for one dollar i would definitely pick this up. I had fun reading it and the art was real good. Cant wait for the next issue.

The five pages of Joe walking through his house were actually my favourite part of this comic. Murphy does a great job of making the ordinary seem unsettling and ominous. I don’t know why exactly, but the fact Joe leaves the front door open really left me feeling rattled. In terms of establishing atmosphere without sacrificing subtlety, this comic is one of the best I’ve seen.

You’re an idiot.

I read it in the store today.

I enjoyed it, I’ll almost certainly get it in trade.

[…] this. It’s a review of Joe the Barbarian #1 a new Vertigo comic by Our#1 Squeeze and Sean Murphy […]

So I’ve now read it. Which I wasn’t going to do, but I did.

I think this issue is a very effective mood-setter. The artwork is beyond stunning. The detail and emotion that Sean Murphy puts into things is absolutely fabulous.

I think it’s pretty clear from this issue that the story is meant to be read in one sitting. I wish they’d just gone and released it as an original graphic novel instead of a mini-series. I withhold judgment on the effectiveness of it in serial form until the second issue. If the second issue has significant story advancement and a sense of closure then yay! If it just feels like 22 pages of story then boo!

I am glad to see Morrison not doing more mediocre supherhero work. And I’m VERY glad to see him working with an amazing artist. Because, really, if it weren’t for Sean Murphy’s artwork, this would most likely be a really boring pile of poo.

So I nether praise nor condemn the issue. I liked it and I loved the artwork. So yay!

Your review made me laugh. It was a terrible review sure, but it did make me laugh.

That has to be worth something.

i haven’t read the comic, so i don’t really give a shit about what you’ve written, but i would like to point out that you don’t really have an understanding of what the term “establishing shot” means

So… I read this. I didn’t love it. I don’t often enjoy the writer in question, either. So I’m VERY tempted to love anything berating him.

But honestly, this review reads like a spastic 18 year old wrote it. I’ve had some rants over at PoP! but… I really hope I’ve never sounded this… delirious.

Y’know I thought you were a bad writer when you took a shit on your panel madness entry, but goddamn you have hit new heights of shittiness here.


January 24, 2010 at 5:40 pm

I have diabetes. I’ve been on the bleeding edge of going into a coma. I have never, not once, hallucinated that my toys were coming to life because of my low blood sugar.

Oh, I meant more the walking through the house part – hallways seeming really long – rather than crossing into a fantasy world and interacting it with it.

You sir, as a writer, remind me of the asshole customers who I don’t want in my comic shop….

Is this supposed to be ironic? All you comic book blog reviewers are turning into hipsters on me, I can’t keep track…

Morrison, from the IGN interview: it’s really this wild fantasy story about a kid who’s dying, and he has twenty minutes to get downstairs and save his own life. And in that twenty minutes, he experiences an entire fantasy epic adventure based around the contents of his house.

Sounds a bit like THE FILTH, which I immensely enjoyed even when I didn’t understand much of it when it was coming out. JOE reads a bit like something that needs more than its first issue to even appreciate as a reader, let alone as a critic.

I understand the gripe about it, though, as it really reads/paces like the first fifteen minutes of a six-hour miniseries. Morrison has always been a bit stingier with his foreshadowings, et al, compared to Moore, or to a lesser degree, early Gaiman, who tend to telegraph it nonchalantly, and this incarnation of Morrison (a la THE AUTHORITY) tends to hold his cards closer to his chest by letting the art speak for itself, the pitfall being the art in JOE isn’t as vocal as it ought to be. It’s beautiful, but it still doesn’t say anything outside of the house being just another house interior in Depressed Suburban America, as opposed to, say, how Gibbons or Mazzuchelli or to a lesser degree Quitely telegraphs character via how a room is cluttered. Murphy just doesn’t command the same attention to space as they do, or at least, not yet.

Those things said, I’ll still read this, and get it in trade eventually, as I really enjoy ALICE-type of stories set in a world on the verge of apocalypse, with talking toys in them, starring a kid with a terminal disease.

[…] *Joe the Barbarian #1 Review. Incidentally, if you know of any other Dr Doom pages where he monologues, please make me aware of them. This took forever to find. Also, look a legitimate reason to use Comic Sans! […]

Hey, You can say what you want, but have some class about it. That kind of bashing is just plain rude. Anyway, I liked it!

I hope Mark Andrew wasn’t paid (or compensated in any way) for his juvenile attempt at insult-humor disguised as a critique. The irony is that it takes him 1,650 words to complain about five wordless pages. 1,650 words.

And he makes it annoying to read.

Because you keep having to scroll down.

Because he uses so many frakkin’ line breaks.

And stop mentioning wombats!

But seriously, there’s no room in a real review for ALL UPPER CASE. And, for anyone who reads outside of the aesthetically and narratively limited DC and Marvel superhero universes, five scenic pages, especially when penciled and inked at this skill level, isn’t a “waste” of anything. That’s my input.

Like it really matters what anyone on the Internet says.

This is by far the most unintelligent review I’ve ever read in my entire life.

Obviously, you are a troll without an eye for art and pacing. Your the fat kid that buys a comic book, and speeds through the dialogue on every page.

Joe the Barbarian issue 1 is nice! This review is shit!

[…] little criticism, positive or negative, as yet online (I mean proper criticism, not stuff like this, which is one of the most comprehensive examples of point-missing I’ve ever read), other than […]

i’m pretty sure those pages were representative of the silence and lonliness of coming home to an empty house. maybe you would have understood if the quiet lord and king lonely smashed through the wall and beat joe up?

I might be convinced if you actually gave me some hard evidence that the rest of the comic was as ‘bad’ as you think the first 4 pages are. You’re like a broken record repeating the same things over and over. So what if there was a four page establishing shot? What was wrong with the rest of it? Giving only one example isn’t really helping you support your argument. Just sayin’.

I agree with the writer’s sentiment here. I think he could have said it more effectively, though, as he more or less bored the crap out of me with:

1) his one-liner style
2) his excessive shitmouth lexicon
3) his inability to get past loving his own writing to simply…simply state his points in a much more abbreviated way

Ironic that he wrote in a similar style as Morrison did in his own comic!

hindsight’s a bitch.

how does it feel now?

those long lonely pictures were the set up of all the lands the kid visits in his fantasy while he’s dying. the toilet. the stairs. the tv. the cellar. the chessboard. those images weren’t empty. they were a roadmap for everything that came after.

but no. you decided to crap on it all because you just didn’t get it yet. loser.

your kind of a dick. that was two pages not five, it wasnt the best comic in the world but it seemed more like set up for the rest of the story. it presents alot of un answered questions that obvious the writer intendes to answer. those sesne of im walking to school visually tell a story, it show his home life and by the way he walkes his attude about life, and showes where he lives and what its like. so i say again your a dick.

Dude, did anyone ever tell you you have too much time on your hands?


People who like comic books are dicks.


hahaha :D yes.

Wow, could this article be more wrong. Now that everyone sees how awesome Joe the Barbarian is it must be hilarious to listen to this MarkAndrew jackass still try to pretend like he stands by his original comments.

To be honest, I couldn’t even read this entire review. It seemed more like a high school kid’s rant than a truly organized, concise argument. You want to know what’s a waste of space? Your incessant repetition. For one thing, you’re criticizing the “writing” of this comic while mentioning five pages of “wasted” setting space. That space isn’t about the writing. It’s devoid of it.

What you don’t seem to realize is that a comic is not a novel. Yes, if a novelist were to spend and entire chapter describing, with words, the entire layout of Joe’s house before the information was relevant, it would be a waste of space. It would be out of order. Better to bring it up when that information becomes interesting or action is about to occur.

However, as a work of art, which comics are, in fact, writing AND art, it is very much possible to establish mood through imagery only. As they say “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Many people enjoy this, and it is a style of storytelling. Personally, as an artist, I find those pages to be incredible and interesting. I believe that, as comic art goes, they are better than most of the shit out there.

Beyond that, people that think a story needs to be rushed, to always have action and something new and flashy, are a by-product of today’s non-stop society. There is such a thing as pacing, which means slowing down and speeding up the action. If you can’t understand and appreciate that, then you, sir, are frankly devoid of taste.

if you have read anymore than you decided to trash … it all comes together quite nicely . all of the art in these pages becomes relevant as the story progresses .

Having finally read this comic, I can say that you are definitively wrong, MarkAndrew.

The book is a perfect set-up issue, and it doesn’t waste time at all. It’s a quick read if you’re just going on dialogue, but no self-respecting comic reader would cop to that, would they?

Oh, man. And now that I’m caught up to issue 5, I can say that this comic is officially AWESOME. The focus on the features of the house was deliberate and necessary. And man, is it exciting!

And for the nitpickers, it addresses the fact that this type of hallucination isn’t standard.

This is one of my favorite comics of the year.

Ned Nederlander

August 26, 2010 at 7:15 am

Have to disagree with this review, having read up to Issue 6 of ‘Joe the Barbarian’. I think about this review when I think of Joe the Barbarian, and as someone who loves creator owned titles that buck the trends and who visits comicbookresources regularly and reads the reviews, I am very disappointed by the standard of review on display here. In fact, I’m not sure how a review of any story can be built with only the very first issue of an eight part series and be so full of vitriol and disapprobation. I can only hope that when people run a search for this comic on the net, that it will soon no longer point to this page, but to the content itself.

Wow! Photograph hunting google all day for this and i also as a final point think it is in this article!

two words for u d review writer

“u fuck”

the comics and its details are awesome as much as ur writing sucks. stop writing reviews. You r an idiot if u write a review this bad for a very potentially high comics.

I read this, and will admit that I’ve read “a few” stronger pieces, it was really good, and enjoyable, and the art was gorgeous. After reading your review… I can see why you write blogs on the internet, and nothing more.

Best of luck, and for my sake and faith into people who review comics… I hope you’re a child, or an angry teenager, because I can’t see an adult or a professional writing this review.

I know I’m late to the ballgame here, but holy hell this is one of the worst reviews I’ve ever read, for any piece of media.

New levels of awful has been reached, ya’ll. Newsarama, you got some competition

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