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Comic Review: Joe The Barbarian #5
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Joe the Barbarian #5 (of 8)
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Sean Murphy
Colors by Dave Stewart
Letters by Todd Klein
Vertigo Comics
Release date: May 19, 2010

Grant Morrison delivers yet again in Joe the Barbarian #5. In this issue, Joe and company are still diligent on their quest to find the light, but along the way they run into terrible monsters and an ever-growing darkness that seems to be consuming the entire world. This story is a fantastic look at the mind of a young boy, who is literally walking the edge of fantasy and reality.

I absolutely love every panel of this book, and have been more than pleased with the entire mini-series. Morrison is doing a fantastic job of telling an incredibly, albeit complex, story of a lonely young boy who is very apparently crossing realms of imagination and reality and is having a harder and harder time distinguishing between the two. The story itself is powerful and intriguing, but the sheer genius of Grant Morrison is shown through his ties between fantasy and reality. For example, in the fantasy world we see a powerful river that is running down a mountain, but in reality we see that this river is an overflowing sink that is going down a flight of stairs. This is just one example, but Morrison also likens a demonic appearing monster to a dog, and the ever-growing darkness is mirrored as a house with a blown fuse, or simply that the power has gone out. Morrison also does a wonderful job with his characters by writing Joe and his gang in a manner that makes you truly feel compassion for them.

The writing is absolutely great, but the art delivers on a level that is nothing short of phenomenal. Sean Murphy‘s pages are something that every artist should desire to draw. Murphy is able to take the styles of a realistic/gritty artist and a fantasy/pop artist and marry them in the same manner that Morrison marries the two worlds in Joe’s head. Not alone the details and scenes are perfect, but the effects and filters that are put on to the panels are absolutely breathtaking. The scenes when this sky has a nice halftone effect on them are my absolute favorites. Sean Murphy is the perfect artist for this book.

I am not unaware to the criticisms, however. Grant Morrison, as a writer, typically has a style in which he writes such a complex beginning to a story that most people cannot get past the dense narrative and complex foreshadowing, which is completely understandable, and most would wait for the story to be completed prior to reading his work, but as a fan of Morrison, I am so glad that I am reading this monthly because I cannot leave this brilliantly crafted world of fantasy, reality, and overall, escapism.

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