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Pants' Books & Stuff!

Hi there! I imagine you must be wondering what the heck is up with my blog name. The short answer is, Pants has become my internet handle in a lot of places where I hang out (somehow). I mainly read YA and comics, and I also frequently read speculative fiction of pretty much any kind. My other hobbies include watching anime and playing video games. Other random tidbits: I have a Bachelor's degree in English Literature and a Masters in Library and Information Sciences. I also have an affinity for tea.
Joe the Barbarian - Sean  Murphy, Grant Morrison
Review originally published on my Livejournal account.

Why I Read It: Back in 2009-2010 when I was still buying comics on a regular basis, I had actually bought the first two or three issues of this graphic novel. They were captivating, and I liked them, but I was always fuzzy on the details after not touching on the story for a month. Anyway, I had to drop buying individual issues to save some money and that's how I stopped following this limited-series. Then Shara from Calico Reaction posted this review singing the book's praises. I had to make an order online shortly after and I added it to my cart to get free shipping.

It's graphic novels like this that make me mad when people have these warped pre-conceived notions that graphic novels are nothing more than stupid super-hero stories for stupid geeks. This graphic novel has so much to offer and was one of the most riveting stories I've read in a long while.

The biggest lure of this story is that you're never sure if everything Joe is experiencing is nothing more than a sugar-deficient hallucination (Joe has Type 1 diabetes) or if it's REALLY fantasy. For the first half, I thought it really couldn't be anything but the former, mostly because Joe seems to be aware that what he's seeing CAN'T be real. But then there's a reveal of sorts (which I won't divulge) that suddenly makes you reconsider that it's just hallucinatory and that it may in fact actually be happening. It tread the line between fantasy and reality with such perfect balance and I loved it.

Both the fantasy world and the real world is well developed. I found myself more invested in the "real" world storyline where Joe is fighting for his survival, but it intersects so perfectly with the fantasy world that it's hard to not care about both. Joe is a character that's easy to become attached to, and I really, really did. I cared for his safety, and I was actually REALLY anxious about whether he was going to stay safe or not. There were some revelations in the story that really had me choked up too. Near the end especially, there was a bit that actually made me cry quite hard. And the ending!! The ending was perfect.

The art was really nice and it had this nice scribbly kind of look to it that was still really nice to look at and it was really detailed at the same time. Because this isn't a novel, the fantasy world can't really be DESCRIBED in any kind of detail -- we just have to go with what we see, and I think Murphy brought this world to life wonderfully. There was a segment that had a lot of steam-punkish looking stuff and I think those were some of my favourite bits, as far as the art goes.

Final Verdict: I loved loved loved this graphic novel. I loved how it handled the intersection between fantasy and reality, I loved the hero Joe, and I feared for his safety, and I loved the ending. The art was also great and complemented the story perfectly. I can't recommend this enough and I'm so glad I read Shara's review because it pushed me to purchase the deluxe edition of this and I'm so happy to have it on my shelves. These kinds of stories remind me why I love graphic novels so much to begin with.