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Joe the Barbarian Paperback – March 12, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Diabetic Joe Manson lives with his widowed mother in a home on the brink of foreclosure and is bullied at school, but that’s just about all the reality we get before plunging head-over-heels into Joe’s hypoglycemia-fueled hallucinations. Joe is on the verge of insulin shock when he begins to drift into a bewildering fantasy realm. His pet rat, Jack, leads him through treacherous kingdoms to the underworld, where he will face “King Death” in the sunless land of “Hypogea”—in other words, Joe needs some glucose or he’ll die. Joe flashes in and out of his actual surroundings, which bleed through to the rich and dynamic imaginary world: his toys are soldiers in the land of “Playroom,” and stony, stairlike outcroppings are a dangerous obstacle between his bedroom and the main floor. While the story is full of delightful comic-book fun, the undercurrent of real-life peril makes this award-winning graphic novel much more than just another fantasy. Joe may be battling vicious creatures with laser guns on pirate submarines, but he’s really fighting for his life and home. Joe’s magnificent and bittersweet day-saving discovery at the very last moment will elicit cheers from even the hardest of hearts. --Sarah Hunter

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"Gorgeous and haunting... a success." (IGN)" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Joe the Barbarian
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Vertigo; Reprint edition (March 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401237479
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401237479
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 0.4 x 10.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #237,036 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Grant Morrison is one of comics' greatest innovators. His long list of credits includes Batman: Arkham Asylum, JLA, Seven Soldiers, Animal Man, Doom Patrol, The Invisibles and The Filth. He is currently writing Batman and All-Star Superman.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I have to give Grant Morrison credit -- few writers could turn a trip to the refrigerator into an epic fantasy adventure. But somehow he manages to do that in "Joe the Barbarian," deftly blurring the lines of fantasy and reality inside one young boy's head. It reads like a cross between "Alice in Wonderland" and "Lord of the Rings," but with more steampunk.

Joe is at home alone with his pet rat Jack. Joe also happens to be diabetic, and bullies stole his snacks earlier that day. When his blood sugar plummets, he struggles to get down the stairs despite his hallucinations and delusions. In his head, he is the legendary Dying Boy, prophesied to save a strange fantasy world from the evil King Death. Oh, and Jack is a giant talking warrior-rat who comes along to help him.

In the real world, Joe is seriously ill and stumbling through his home, trying to get some soda pop before he falls into a diabetic coma. His hallucinating brain sees everything around him -- a bathtub, a staircase, a vicious dog -- as being part of a vast fantasy world, where airpunk planes fly, dwarves are in steampunk submarines, and ruined cities lead into the final battle.

Will Joe and Jack survive -- both in the real world and in the fantasy one -- and what secrets will be revealed to them if they do?

"Joe the Barbarian" is a simple story, and the beauty of it is in the execution. Grant Morrison takes a simple everyday problem, and manages to expand it into an epic quest, in a world as colorful, wild and strange as a kid's imagination. He even throws in a surprising twist near the end, adding a new dimension to Joe's quest for survival.

Also, the artwork is gorgeous.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sam Quixote TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This world: Joe Manson is a high school boy, likes drawing, is diabetic, has a pet rat called Jack and no friends, has a single mother working to save their house while his father is buried in a military grave having died fighting overseas.

The other world: Joe the Barbarian is a prophet called "The Dying Boy" who must traverse mountains, castles full of cowardly inventors, submarines full of toilet dwarves, with his companion, a fighting warrior rat called Jack, dodging flying demons, laser gun fights, epic battles, to flood the land with light and the Fountain of Life, and destroy evil King Death.

Grant Morrison writes a hugely inventive story of fantastic proportions, throwing in tropes from every fantasy story ever written of the band of heroes on a quest to destroy evil and save kingdoms of innocents. Joe is diabetic and it seems that his low blood sugar has triggered a vivid hallucination as he struggles to go from his bedroom attic to the kitchen downstairs to drink a soda and keep him from going into hypoglycaemic shock. But anyone who's read Morrison before or knows anything about him, knows that he is a true believer in parallel worlds and that there's more to life than we can see with our eyes. This book mirrors that philosophy as the smallest things in the "real world" are brought to life in the "other world", for example Joe makes himself a bath but forgets to turn off the tap causing the water to pour from the tub into the room and down the stairs, creating a new waterfall across the mountains in the other world.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Reena10589 on November 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I accidentally picked up and read issue number two a few months back, I was so intrigued by what I read that when the trade became available I had to own it. The story line is intricate enough that while I am reading to my kids that I am intrigued. I re-read some pages multiple times just to deduce that fine line between 'realities' that the main character has to deal with. The Story line is also easily understood by the kids (their version of it). The graphics are fabulous and provide endless 'eye candy'!

I have even bought extra copies to give out as Christmas gifts. Definitely 5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JC JIM. on March 3, 2014
Format: Paperback
I had heard a lot of good things about this GN, however, I thought that a kid having an episode of hypoglycemia could not make for a good story. Boy was I wrong, this is by far the best Grant Morrison book I've read. He is truly in his element creating a wonderful world as seen by kid who is one step away from death. The characters are very engaging, Joe the titular character is very likable and his supporting cast is just amazing. I really recommend this book to anyone who has ever called him/herself a fan of fantasy films such as the Never Ending Story or The Labyrinth. Buy, read and re-buy to gift to your friends, this book is well worth the price of admission.
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Format: Hardcover
"Joe the Barbarian" is an epic story of danger, courage and redemption. Armies clash, cities are destroyed, beloved leaders are exposed as shallow cowards, ancient vows of isolation are cast aside. In its hour of greatest need, a world turns to its prophesied hero, the Dying Boy.

That's one way of looking at it. Another is that Joe is suffering hallucinations caused by hypoglycemic shock, and needs to get to the kitchen and drink a soda.

The entire eight-chapter graphic novel (originally an eight-issue limited series comic book) takes place over the course of a single evening, within the walls of Joe's home (which is on the brink of foreclosure). Joe is an introverted boy whose father died in Iraq. Left at home alone, he has to get that soda / save the world on his own.

Is Joe only hallucinating, or is the strange world he finds himself in a real place? The story seems to be stacked in favor of its being just a dream, since the people he encounters look like fantastic versions of his toys and his pet rat, and the world itself is a reflection of the stairs and furniture and even the pipes of the house.

Then again, I never believed that Oz was "just a dream", either.

[*SPOILER BELOW*]

In his hallucination, Joe is promised that he will "hear his father's voice again" if he succeeds in his quest. This takes the form of a letter his father left, just before he deployed, for his wife to find, and the deed to the house. With the deed, the foreclosure can be prevented.

I objected at first glance -- if the bank was about to foreclose, there must be a mortgage, which would not have been granted unless title to the house were established.
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