cover image Joe the Barbarian: The Deluxe Edition

Joe the Barbarian: The Deluxe Edition

Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy. DC/Vertigo, $29.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-4012-2971-9

An Eisner nominee for “Best Limited Series,” this extraordinarily rich book transfigures adolescent angst. Thirteen-year-old Joe Manson has many excuses for self-pity: his soldier father was killed in the Middle East, and his despairing mother is afraid of losing their home; he’s essentially friendless; and if he doesn’t carefully monitor his diabetes he could lapse into a hypoglycemic coma. That may, in fact, be what happens one night when he’s alone in the house during a storm. Yet while he gropes through the darkness to reach life-saving glucose, Joe also finds himself in a magical realm whose inhabitants welcome him as the Dying Boy, destined to save them from King Death and restore the light. Accompanied by life-size versions of his favorite toys and by his pet rat transformed into a mighty warrior, Joe sets off on his heroic mission. Morrison’s script deftly juggles events in both realities. Murphy’s art (aided by Dave Stewart’s coloring and Todd Klein’s lettering) is wonderfully detailed, but also offers vast panoramas in which little Joe and his companions are almost—but not quite—overwhelmed and lost. A very beautiful and exhilarating comic. (Nov.)