Brandon Borzelli’s Geek Goggle Reviews
Joe The Barbarian #5 of 8
Vertigo Comics (DC)
Morrison & Murphy
Joe and friends continue their quest as this issue picks up with the group having crashed their flying craft and getting split into two factions. Joe and his rodent friend, Jack, end up moving through a kingdom that was destroyed recently and find themselves in very real danger. The threat hits Joe back in reality as his hallucinations mix to confuse what he is experiencing versus what he thinks he is experiencing. I found this comic book to be touching and to find a nerve that left me pondering the character’s welfare and how the series will complete from here on in. For the most part, this is all you can ask for in a comic book.
Joe, to this point, has been involved in various situations that might seem dangerous but didn’t necessarily seem life threatening. Whether it was falling from the attic to the second story or falling down the stairs amidst the bathroom flood we’ve witnessed Joe getting thrown all around the house. However, this danger is vastly different.
In the first issue Joe left the front door to the house open. In this issue a very large and angry dog enters the house. The dog is a giant dog in his hallucination but the problem is the same because not only is Joe in danger but Jack is in even more danger.
The comic book enters some territory that comes across as sweet as Joe and Jack have a meaningful interaction. Jack confides that he is not a great warrior and just the runt of the liter. He then gathers up the courage to protect Joe, allowing him to potentially escape, from the giant dog. In real life, the dog finds easier pickings on Jack but Joe finds some courage of his own. The ending to the confrontation is slightly unresolved but not emotionally despite its ambiguity.
The other aspect that makes this issue so moving is that Joe makes contact with his mother. Both sides have bad news for the other but neither seems capable of registering the bad news. In some ways, the interaction comes across as the type that you might find to have some level of finality. Will they ever see each other again?
Morrison again allows Murphy to completely own the issue. Even with all of the emotions that are running through the ending of the comic book, it is the art that leaves the biggest impression. This issue has multiple instances of panels that scroll across two pages in a letterboxed format that enhances the cinematic and epic feel to the story. Additionally, the creativity in the air battle and the ruined kingdom shows a level of detail that is impressive even after five issues of the story. I was, again, thrilled with this visual story.
Morrison turns the corner in the mini series and makes this comic book play more with the emotions rather than the action or plot. I enjoyed this issue probably more than any other in the series as it left me pondering the character’s situation at the end and it had me second guessing Joe’s decisions. I enjoyed this story very much and I can’t wait for the next installment.
4.5 out of 5 Geek Goggles