So why am I reading this comic? Morrison apparently forgets just having his name on a cover doesn’t make a book necessarily special or interesting; Joe the Barbarian is, after one issue, a perfect example of this situation.
It’s about a kid—probably in the UK—whose dad died in a war (he was a soldier), whose mom is busy with work and is bullied at school.
Again, so what?
He’s got a pet rat, which should make him particularly likable to me (a longtime pet rat owner) but the rat’s barely in it.
The issue ends with the kid having a psychotic break and imagining all his toys are alive (not the Batman though, I noticed). It ends there.
Sean Murphy does okay on the artwork, so I guess his mom probably likes the comic a lot, but otherwise….
It’s watching Morrison stoke his ego for twenty-two pages.
Hypo; writer, Grant Morrison; artist, Sean Murphy; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Pornsak Pichetshote and Karen Berger; publisher, Vertigo.
Reading this last issue, it’s like Willingham wanted to write himself into a corner so no one would ask for another Thessaly series. He just stops the series, sort of admitting defeat (or disinterest) on the last page. I suppose he foreshadows the ending earlier, when he’s got Thessaly freeing all her minions. These are interesting characters—at least, amusing ones for a few pages—and Willingham is only showing us the end of them.
Maybe the Sandman spinoffs were winding down and they didn’t think anyone would want another series. Given the way he handles this one, it’s a fair assumption, but the McManus artwork still creates a lot of good will for the series.
And isn’t as though Willingham’s writing, on scene level, is bad. His dialogue is good, his plotting is just a disaster.
Successful limited series often have this type of disinterested sequel. It’s very unfortunate.
The Last Full Measure, or What Are All These Dead Guys Doing in My Living Room?; writer, Bill Willingham; artist, Shawn McManus; colorist, Pamela Rambo; letterer, Phil Balsman; editors, Mariah Huehner and Karen Berger; publisher, Vertigo.
Okay, I clearly don’t have a clue what Willingham is going for here.
The entire story is flashback, but framed by Thessaly telling Fetch her adventures while away from him. She was gone for six years (it seemed like a week to him) researching how she might slay the monster he’s inadvertently sicced on them.
One might say it’s another opportunity for some lovely McManus art… but this issue really is just talking heads. There’s some stuff during the quest flashbacks, but it’s small and not particularly visual.
After this issue, I think it’s pretty clear Willingham wishes he was writing something else. He throws in a bunch of Sandman characters (I think). Maybe it’s not wishing he was writing something else, but nothing at all… this issue feels like a contractual obligation.
It’s competently written, but the charm’s absent.
While McManus makes it worthwhile, he can’t make it good.
Something the Cat Dragged In, or An Even Bigger Quest Than In the Last Story; writer, Bill Willingham; artist, Shawn McManus; colorist, Pamela Rambo; letterer, Phil Balsman; editors, Mariah Huehner and Karen Berger; publisher, Vertigo.