Batman: White Knight #8 (July 2018)

Batman: White Knight #8

White Knight is fine. Murphy finishes it fine. The art is great, there’s some really cool action–imagine if a Schumacher Batman movie vehicle setpiece were good–and the dialogue’s occasionally really strong.

It’s not great. The sequel setup stuff is weak and a copout as far as character work goes. There are other copouts on the character work; Barbara and Dick are accessories, so’s Gordon. There’s nothing to them.

Other than the art. And Murphy’s love of all things Batman.

After dawdling through multiple issues, Murphy runs out of time in this one. Not just the sequel setup nonsense, but also with the action sequence. Nightwing gets lost. And the action sequence develops to something Murphy could really go wild with and he doesn’t.

It’s too bad White Knight wasn’t great. The art’s great and there’s some really cool things about it, but it didn’t achieve that initial promise of a new great Batman comic. Murphy should have tempered his ambitions, as they all turned out to be empty anyway.

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Sean Murphy; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Maggie Howell and Mark Doyle; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman: White Knight #7 (June 2018)

Batman: White Knight #7

Murphy really likes deus ex machina plot devices. He uses three or five of them in White Knight #7.

Given where the series goes, I’m not sure he really needed eight issues–this issue seems like the always intended, not drawn out, penultimate issue. There’s a lot going on, a lot of crowded rooms with exposition, a lot of rushed character moments, a handful of revelations. Murphy recenters White Knight on Batman this issue, which almost comes as a surprise. Whether or not it’s successful is going to depend on the finale–Batman makes some hard promises as he gets out of Arkham and teamed with Jack Napier. Murphy’s going to have to keep some of them.

He can’t just have it turn out Thomas Wayne was a secret agent fighting the Nazis. The series’s early success came from Murphy’s willingness to reveal red herrings to be real herrings.

There’s a lot of awesome art–including the “Batman” TV show Batmobile getting some action–but the panels are mostly tiny. Grizzled Batman gets way too many big panels while Murphy’s gorgeous design work gets relegated to little ones. It might be Batman’s comic again, but it doesn’t mean he’s the most interesting thing to see. I mean, Jake Napier’s Jokering out uncontrollably, which Murphy does like a hybrid homage to Bolland and Sienkiewicz. It’s awesome art.

So Batman: White Knight might make it. Not the heights it initially promised, but some significant ones.

It’ll probably make a good trade. It could be a great movie (but not one of those animated ones… and most certainly not a live action one with Ben Affleck and Jared Leto).

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Sean Murphy; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Maggie Howell and Mark Doyle; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman: White Knight #6 (May 2018)

Batman: White Knight #6

The issue starts a humdrum cops chasing Batman, with lots of fast scenes of the cops (including Nightwing, Batgirl, and the Joker) coming up with ideas and then cuts to the Batmobile. It’s a little obvious, a little tedious. The action pacing isn’t right.

Then the Burton Batmobile shows up and nothing matters for a few pages except getting to see Sean Murphy draw a Batmobile sequence with the Burton Batmobile.

Sigh. It’s like if DC had validated the movie fans when I was eleven.

Then there’s a weak fight scene between the Joker and Batman. Batgirl goes to Mr. Freeze and finds out Papa Wayne was just a secret agent who brought Nazis to the States for science. He’s morally bankrupt but not a Nazi. Mr. Freeze, however, isn’t morally bankrupt–he hated his father, who–retcon alert–hated Freeze’s Jewish wife, Nora. It’s an okay scene though, even if dreadfully cheap. Murphy should just do a Batgirl series.

The end has what ought to be an amazing Joker sequence but flops. Brian Bolland’s safe for now. The problem? Murphy runs out of space. He’s been too busy with his action movie back-and-forth exposition dumping again.

Still. Burton Batmobile alone makes it worth it. For an exceptionally select number of readers.

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Sean Murphy; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Maggie Howell and Mark Doyle; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman: White Knight #5 (April 2018)

Batman: White Knight #5

Watching grizzled Batman bicker with White Knight Dick Grayson almost feels like a grimdark version of early eighties Batman but not exactly. Murphy has definitely made White Knight its own thing–down to Harley Quinn being the voice of reason–and there’s only so much to do with it.

Most of the issue has to do with Batman not wanting to join the Gotham Terrorist Oppression (GTO), which is the super-cop team setup by the Joker. The “good” Joker. There’s also Neo Joker, but she’s the replacement Harley Quinn gone rogue.

Then there’s the Neo Joker finding out the Wayne fortune is probably based on Nazi gold. Murphy even suggests there’s going to be some meat on that subplot.

White Knight has three issues left and Murphy could pretty much do anything in those three issues. But there’s no reason he needs eight. Whatever he’s doing he could’ve fit in six, because there’s nothing essential here. There’s some excellent art–with grimdark Batman being the most visually boring character (after Dick Grayson in his GTO uniform).

Murphy’s burnt through all the initial goodwill and is keeping White Knight moving. With issue #5 though, it’s clear it doesn’t really have anywhere interesting to move. Neo Joker might give the series some big set pieces and some drama, but she’s none of the big ideas Murphy promised to tackle at the start.

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Sean Murphy; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Maggie Howell and Mark Doyle; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman: White Knight #4 (March 2018)

Batman: White Knight #4

This issue of White Knight is pretty much what I was expecting from the book, best case. Murphy’s been excelling past this level and it’s a pretty significant drop.

Especially since I couldn’t tell the mayor from Bullock. They’re both obese white men. Murphy draws them the same.

There’s a lot of “politics” in this issue, but the politics are mostly how Black Gothamites feel like they’re getting the shaft from the rich white people. Murphy teases arguments between people over race, then immediately backs off. It’s kind of annoying. He’s implying edginess, nothing more.

He’s also gotten to the point he doesn’t want to have the Joker as protagonist, but subject. There’s some history with Harley Two, which intentionally makes light of her being suicidal for a sight gag.

On the other hand, there’s a Batman 1989 reference. The two things don’t balance out. Especially not since the Joker’s master plan is similar to Tony Stark’s Civil War plan.

It’s a shrug of a comic. I hope it’s not a trajectory change but the story’s pretty thin. Real Harley’s character development has entirely stopped. Though she and Mr. J do go clubbing a la Suicide Squad, just as yuppies not criminals. Yawn.

And the soft cliffhanger tying the Wayne family fortune to Nazis?

I’m now worried Murphy’s just doing DC’s version of Nazi Captain America.

Or maybe it’ll end with a Jim Gordon monologue about how “all lives matter.”

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Sean Murphy; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Maggie Howell and Mark Doyle; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman: White Knight 3 (February 2018)

Batman: White Knight #3

White Knight is all right. Look, it rhymes. There’s less Batman brand reverence this issue, which is kind of too bad since Murphy does it so well (there’s a great panel with various Batmobiles), and there are some plot twists.

There’s a big one and a smaller one. The big one is too much a spoiler (though maybe not depending on where the story goes) and the latter is Dick Grayson being the second Robin. Jason Todd was the first. It’s an interesting detail, but Murphy doesn’t do anything with it. Not yet. It’s unclear if eight issues is going to be enough to get through all the stuff Murphy’s packed into the series.

Frankly, probably not. There’s just too much. Including Murphy going into the cost of Batman’s “War on Crime.”

Murphy’s still raising some interesting questions for a superhero book–especially one like Batman–and his art’s still phenomenal; White Knight is going to make it through its eight issues fairly well. It’s just (still) unclear what, if anything, Murphy’s is going to make with it.

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Sean Murphy; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Maggie Howell and Mark Doyle; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman: White Knight 2 (January 2018)

Batman: White Knight #2

Two big things happen this issue of White Knight. Sort of two steps back from Murphy. First, he gets into the Joker’s sanity and gives him a thoughtful reconciliation with Harley Quinn. It humanizes the character a lot. Maybe too much. Harley’s sympathetic. Joker’s not, because the comic is about waiting for the reveal. Joker’s really just as bad as Batman always thought he’s been. The return to the norm. How long can Murphy put it off?

Only maybe he doesn’t and he does more with White Knight. But the second thing he does is implying not. Bruce Wayne is finding out Batman’s war on crime has turned all of the rich Gothamites into real estate scumbags. Murphy explains it but it’s just more of the blah blah blah. White Knight has a lot of it, with Murphy apparently trying to do Dark Knight Rises and its “Occupy Wall Street” subplot over again.

Along, hopefully, with some of Batman & Robin. Though maybe not. But maybe. I mean, he calls Mr. Frost’s wife’s disease and Alfred’s MacGregors. That name is from Batman & Robin.

Whatever. Back to Bruce Wayne. He doesn’t like how it turns out all his rich friends are crap and racist too and he’s just never noticed it, not until the Joker took off his makeup and told Bruce (and the world) about it.

Great art. Nice twist at the end, not like the other two.

White Knight is kind of a crazy thing–it’s an event Batman book worth reading. Murphy’s story wouldn’t be worth it without his art, but also his earnestness and ambition. He’s not cynical about writing the comic, he’s thrilled to be writing it. And that enthusiasm makes it all very engaging.

At least, so long as there’s also the art.

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Sean Murphy; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Maggie Howell and Mark Doyle; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman: White Knight 1 (December 2017)

Batman: White Knight #1

Batman: White Night is ambitious. Writer-artist Sean Murphy, after years of drawing excellent Batman in middling Batman comics for high profile writers, is trying both hats. And he’s not going to do anything small. He’s going to do the Joker, because Murphy’s not going big and new, he’s going big and old. A deconstruction of the Joker and Batman’s rivalry. Complete with “Batman: The Animated Series”, Batman ’89, a Killing Joke reference, lots more. Maybe a Bat-Mite.

But it’s all modern with Murphy doing the TV talking heads arguing–a little a la Miller, but also just “cable news” and whatnot. He can’t write that scene. His fascist defender of Batman doesn’t have any arguments. So it’s not going to be perfect. Murphy’s hitting a lot of demographics, a lot of zeitgeist, and he’s got it pretty well balanced, but it’s extremely calculated.

And maybe there’s something to the concept–what if Batman’s actually just a fascist brute and the Joker gets cured and decides to save the world from him?

The art’s amazing. Murphy’s got a lot of Batman love on display, from Nightwing, Batgirl, Gordon, Bullock, whoever else. It’s going to be amusing for its details, beautiful for its art, and who knows what for Murphy’s big idea. I hope it stays afloat. The Joker’s whole backstory is already silly–he’s a Batman stan (stalker slash fan) who was a criminal to improve Bats’s crime-fighting.

Anyway.

Maybe it’ll pan out. Maybe it won’t. But it’ll have great art and fun references.

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Sean Murphy; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Maggie Howell and Mark Doyle; publisher, DC Comics.

Chrononauts 1 (March 2015)

Chrononauts #1

I like how Mark Millar has gotten to the point I don’t even bother forming an opinion on his first issue. Take Chrononauts. Good–but surprisingly not great–art from Sean Murphy. Of course, Millar often works with good artists.

The story? Time travel in the near future. Millar comes up with something rather interesting, the idea of a time traveling satellite going back in time, transmitting video of an event, crashing down in a different time period. It’s cool. Then he gets to the guys who are going to go back in time. Both are rock star scientists–because Millar has to write rock star something or others–one has an ex-wife, one is a lothario. Millar’s not stretching here. He’s got his characters, he recycles them.

But the time travel stuff with the guys? Boring. Feels like a Stargate comic.

But, it’s Millar; I’ll delay critical thinking.

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Millar; artist, Sean Murphy; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor, Nicole Boose; publisher, Image Comics.

The Wake 5 (December 2013)

289527 20131120094335 largeStarting this issue, I felt a little bad. I only read The Wake to praise Murphy’s art and to mock Snyder’s writing. It’s definitely mock-worthy this time around too, but then he goes and does something even more amazing.

He craps on the story he is telling and then announces he’s going to tell an entirely different story. Apparently one about flying girls. So instead of ripping off The Abyss, Leviathan and whatever other underwater adventures he could… He announces he’s instead going to rip off Waterworld and post-apocalyptic stuff.

Am I spoiling the end of this issue?

No, because this issue–this storyline–isn’t the point. Murphy was just messing around.

It’s the perfect jumping off point too, because it’s clear there’s never going to be anything resembling a good narrative here.

Oh, Contact. He rips Contact off a little here too.

Anyway, crappy writing, great art.

CREDITS

Writer, Scott Snyder; artist, Sean Murphy; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Sara Miller and Mark Doyle; publisher, Vertigo.

The Wake 4 (November 2013)

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I’m having a hard time believing it but Snyder is actually getting worse. Oh, there are less characters so the dialogue is a little better, but his ideas are dropping even faster in creativity. If it weren’t for Murphy’s style, I’d think The Wake is supposed to be a joke. Some camp-fest to laugh at all the crazy stuff Snyder can rip off from other places.

I did forgot the really, really terrible scene with the lead character lady talking about her son and how she won’t die unless she gets him HDMI cables first. I can’t believe this comic book has an editor. Not one who can read anyway.

There’s a lot of action, none of it particularly good. For a series where Murphy is the only draw, this issue doesn’t utilize him well at all. Snyder’s script is too terribly paced.

The Wake‘s not improving at all.

CREDITS

Writer, Scott Snyder; artist, Sean Murphy; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Sara Miller and Mark Doyle; publisher, Vertigo.

Batman: Black and White 1 (November 2013)

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With the exception of the Neal Adams story, this first issue of Batman: Black and White is excellent.

Sure, the Chip Kidd story–with some nice Michael Cho art–is a little much on the Silver Age cuteness, but it’s a decent story.

The Adams one is about Bruce Wayne realizing the criminal justice system is unfair. It’s undercooked in both the art (though Adams’s pencils are nice, they’re not inked) and definitely the story. He just tries too hard.

The Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy story from Maris Wicks and Joe Quinones is probably the biggest surprise. It’s delightful.

John Arcudi and Sean Murphy do a “Batman loves his car” story, which has some great art and nice Alfred banter.

Finally, Howard Mackie and Chris Samnee do the most traditional story. Mackie’s got a good villain reveal, but he tries too hard. Lovely Samnee art though.

It’s good stuff.

CREDITS

Don’t Know Where, Don’t Know When; writer, Chip Kidd; artist, Michael Cho; letterer, Dezi Sienty. Batman Zombie; writer and penciller, Neal Adams; letterer, Erica Schultz. Justice is Served; writer, Maris Wicks; artist, Joe Quinones; letterer, Rob Leigh. Driven; writer, John Arcudi; artist, Sean Murphy; letterer, Sal Cipriano. Head Games; writer, Howard Mackie; artist, Chris Samnee; letterer, Jack Morelli. Editors, Camilla Zhang and Mark Chiarello; publisher, DC Comics.

The Wake 3 (September 2013)

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What a bad comic.

I mean, the art is glorious and it does make The Wake worth reading but the writing is godawful.

Snyder is back with his lame dialogue again. On and on it goes. The stuff with protagonist and her son isn’t even the worst and it’s positively dreadful. The Homeland Security guy is back to his awful catchphrases, which is an unpleasant return to say the least.

This issue reveals one of Snyder’s big problems as a writer. He’s impatient. Instead of showing the reader this deep sea rig in scenes, he does it all in expository dialogue so he can rush to the finish with a bunch of the monsters arriving. A few good scenes would have helped the pace–it reads extremely fast, especially as one wants to get away from Snyder’s dialogue–and worked towards giving the cast personalities.

It’s a terrible comic book.

CREDITS

Writer, Scott Snyder; artist, Sean Murphy; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Sara Miller and Mark Doyle; publisher, Vertigo.

The Wake 2 (August 2013)

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If “raindrop” is really a term used in folklore studies, how does anyone take folklore studies seriously? It’s out of Michael Crichton.

Except Snyder doesn’t think dinosaurs became birds. He’s real clear on it. Science is clear on the other side of him. It immediately discounts all the pseudo-science in Wake. It and Snyder giving Homeland Security a bio weapons department.

It’s a bit of a talking heads issue. Well, talking heads and hallucinations. Snyder packs it with time killing hallucinations. The Murphy art makes up for it all to a certain point, except when Snyder’s being just too dumb.

One has to wonder of his editors do anything whatsoever. Like read the script to the comic.

There’s some more will the flash forward to the end of the planet Earth. I think we’re supposed to care but I can’t be sure.

At least Snyder’s dialogue is getting better.

CREDITS

Writer, Scott Snyder; artist, Sean Murphy; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Sara Miller and Mark Doyle; publisher, Vertigo.

The Wake 1 (July 2013)

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So if Michael Bay is his generation’s version of Tony Scott, Scott Snyder is trying really hard to be his generations version of early Brian Michael Bendis. The cuteness in the dialogue is hilariously bad. If it weren’t for Sean Murphy’s art, one might think The Wake is supposed to be a comedy.

I could actually sit and write about the dialogue devices Snyder uses to be cute, but I won’t bother. Being cute is a small problem compared to the rest of the dialogue. He can’t write honest dialogue. He’s not just writing bad expository dialogue, he’s writing weak dialogue without any sense of his characters. Maybe his editors told him everyone has to sound different so he picked some phrases and cadences to repeat.

But there’s the art. Murphy gets to do fake super-science, general ocean life and Waterworld. Every panel, even with dumb dialogue, is glorious.

CREDITS

Writer, Scott Snyder; artist, Sean Murphy; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Sara Miller and Mark Doyle; publisher, Vertigo.

Joe the Barbarian 8 (May 2011)

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Wow… it ends even worse than I could have possibly imagined. I like how in Morrison’s reality, a gang of roaming thugs (who bring a vicious dog with them to attack kids) are scared off by a woman in a crappy old car. I guess he needed that one to work for the ending to be as lame as possible.

Beautiful, beautiful art. Murphy maybe outdoes himself with this issue. It’s just fabulous.

Morrison has three or four endings to the comic, which is oversize, but he could have gotten away with one of them. The first one requires not only Joe, the kid, to be a complete inobservance moron but his mom too. And one has to believe his dead father is a trickster jerk who likes stringing people along.

I’m glad I read it for two reasons.

First, Murphy.

Second, I like having examples of awful Morrison writing.

CREDITS

Tomb of the Iron Knight; writer, Grant Morrison; artist, Sean Murphy; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Pornsak Pichetshote and Karen Berger; publisher, Vertigo.

Joe the Barbarian 7 (November 2010)

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So, it’s been a little unclear—until now—how the present action unfolds in Joe the Barbarian. Since the kid is having a fit, it really shouldn’t matter if Morrison doesn’t make a big deal out of it.

But he finally does—the comic, running eight issues and costing about twenty bucks—takes place over about… eight minutes. Apparently, Morrison saw Inception and liked the way they figured dream-time so much, he adapted it for this one.

It’s hard to be serious about Joe the Barbarian because Morrison opens himself up for some many glib statements. It’s like The NeverEnding Story, if The NeverEnding Story sucked. I’m sure one can think of similar examples.

What’s most amusing about the issue—most of which is a battle scene—is how incapable Morrison is at writing war comics. He should have read some Ennis before attempting this one.

Still, great artwork.

CREDITS

Labyrinth of the Lost; writer, Grant Morrison; artist, Sean Murphy; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Pornsak Pichetshote and Karen Berger; publisher, Vertigo.

Joe the Barbarian 6 (August 2010)

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You know, Morrison spends a lot of time this issue suggesting Joe’s journey through his house is some great metaphor for his life. This issue he attacks his newfound friends, dismissing them as kids from his school. He also runs into an analogue of his mother. Except his mother’s not home during his diabetic hallucination, which means it’s all in his head, analogues and all.

Morrison’s got two more issues of this comic to go—I’m curious if they’ll both read as fast as this one. He’s gotten to the point there’s no content or quest anymore, so the thing just speeds along, even with the artwork. Well, actually, Morrison doesn’t give Murphy much interesting to draw this issue.

As the issue just coasts along, it occurs to me Morrison didn’t actually waste any time before now. I mean, other than the plot itself, he kept on task.

Not here.

CREDITS

Our Lady in Mourning; writer, Grant Morrison; artist, Sean Murphy; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Pornsak Pichetshote and Karen Berger; publisher, Vertigo.

Joe the Barbarian 5 (July 2010)

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As far as I remember, the most emotionally honest Morrison has ever gotten was in We3 when he viscously killed his adorable and likable animal protagonists….

Well, he achieves some more emotional honesty as he needlessly, viscously kills another innocent animal. It’s cheap and it might hurt Disney wanting to turn Joe the Barbarian into a Pixar property (if the Marvel deal already hasn’t), but it does work.

Otherwise, the issue has some major problems. Morrison seems to think a widow and her kid in danger of losing their house are immediately sympathetic. Not even The Goonies just made that assumption—Morrison doesn’t understand making characters more real than just their scenes is important and necessary for forming an emotional connection.

There’s a lot of great art from Murphy this issue (it opens rockily, as Murphy’s doing these flying machines out of The Phantom Menace).

It’s cheap, dumb and effective.

CREDITS

From Never to Always; writer, Grant Morrison; artist, Sean Murphy; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Pornsak Pichetshote and Karen Berger; publisher, Vertigo.

Joe the Barbarian 4 (June 2010)

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It’s a little perplexing how much I enjoy the artwork while still don’t enjoy the overall reading experience of Joe the Barbarian.

Morrison apparently really wants a Harry Potter-like franchise with his name on it—this issue adds the romantic interest in Joe’s fantasy world, who may be identical to the girl who’s nice to him at school in reality. I’m not bothering to check, just assuming.

This issue has a lot more fantasy characters introduced. What’s strange about the series is how Morrison assumes his readers will be fantasy readers—who are willing to put up with stupid names and a million characters—and not comic book readers, who put up with stupid names, but like the million characters gradually introduced, not all at once.

The question of the hallucinations comes up but it’s hard, like I said last issue, to care. Regardless of the reveal, Joe’s pointless.

CREDITS

Inventoria; writer, Grant Morrison; artist, Sean Murphy; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Pornsak Pichetshote and Karen Berger; publisher, Vertigo.

Joe the Barbarian 3 (May 2010)

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So is the kid supposed to be a diabetic? Is that why he keeps talking about needing a soda? I can’t remember if Morrison even established that condition in the first issue. He might may and I missed it because I was too busy paying attention to the rest of the cast.

That cast who, it turns out, are absolutely useless to the comic.

This issue resembles the Aardman movie Flushed Away a lot. Good to see Morrison watches some movies for inspiration.

Joe the Barbarian has hit a nice point where each issue can only get better because Morrison’s already bottomed out the concept. Either the kid’s nuts or he’s not and there will be an intergalactic war. Neither one would make the comic any better or worse.

Again, Murphy wins—as Morrison goes further down the drain, the most exotic fantasy, steam-punk material for Murphy to illustrate.

CREDITS

The Dying Boy; writer, Grant Morrison; artist, Sean Murphy; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Pornsak Pichetshote and Karen Berger; publisher, Vertigo.

Joe the Barbarian 2 (April 2010)

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So Grant Morrison doesn’t have an editor and Vertigo will publish anything he gives them.

Good to know.

This issue of Joe the Barbarian is both better and worse than the previous one.

Ryan Murphy’s artwork is definitely better, if only because he’s got all these fantastic elements to illustrate. Joe—the protagonist—is hanging out with a jumbo version of his pet rat, who he’s freed from his cage, both in reality and in his delusion. Giant rats are, being rats, cute. So the issue has that cheap element going for it.

However, it has zero story going for it.

Morrison’s big epical storyline this issue is getting the kid to the bathroom to puke (he thinks his head is in a waterfall). The series’s goal is apparently to get the kid downstairs.

I think Morrison wants to get the series optioned by Pixar.

I’ll keep reading to ridicule.

CREDITS

Cloud Quay to Feather Forest Falls; writer, Grant Morrison; artist, Sean Murphy; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Pornsak Pichetshote and Karen Berger; publisher, Vertigo.

Joe the Barbarian 1 (March 2010)

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So why am I reading this comic? Morrison apparently forgets just having his name on a cover doesn’t make a book necessarily special or interesting; Joe the Barbarian is, after one issue, a perfect example of this situation.

It’s about a kid—probably in the UK—whose dad died in a war (he was a soldier), whose mom is busy with work and is bullied at school.

Again, so what?

He’s got a pet rat, which should make him particularly likable to me (a longtime pet rat owner) but the rat’s barely in it.

The issue ends with the kid having a psychotic break and imagining all his toys are alive (not the Batman though, I noticed). It ends there.

Sean Murphy does okay on the artwork, so I guess his mom probably likes the comic a lot, but otherwise….

It’s watching Morrison stoke his ego for twenty-two pages.

CREDITS

Hypo; writer, Grant Morrison; artist, Sean Murphy; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Pornsak Pichetshote and Karen Berger; publisher, Vertigo.

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