Hello! Welcome to this week’s edition of Bin Fodder. Today I’m changing things up. First, you probably noticed the “Part 1” in the title, that’s new. Second, I’m going to focus less on the events of the story and more on my interpretations and opinions. This’ll be a little experiment, so your feedback would be appreciated!
This week’s review is of the first two mini-series of Oni Press’ Barry Ween: Boy Genius, written and drawn by Judd Winick. Winick has become DC Comics royalty in recent years with his work on titles like Batman, Green Lantern, Outsiders and Green Arrow. But in the time before he was a huge success at DC and after he was the “straight-laced guy” on MTv’s “The Real World” he was just Judd Winick, cartoonist.
I will honestly admit, right from the start, that I have read the entire collection of Barry Ween no less than five times and to this day, as I re-read it for my review, I still laughed out loud more times than I can count. Winick’s apt appraisal of so many situations, his outlandish and brash jokes leave the audience crying from laughter with mouths-agape.
For those of you not familiar with this character, which I would wager is a staggeringly high number, Barry Ween is a ten year old boy with an I.Q. of 350. Due to his exceptional mind he lives in a state of secrecy, aside from his best friend, Jeremy. Right from the very first issue we get a true understanding of both of these main characters. Barry, brilliant, cunning, insightful and displaying a lack of caring for the human condition. Jeremy is outlandish, sex starved, lustful and crude.
Throughout the first two mini-series Winick introduces the reader to new characters and new situations. He leads off the majority of the issues with a page or two of “From the Journals of Barry Ween” which tend to pick on some celebrated figure like Thomas Edison or cover some observation Barry has had over the years. Always good for a laugh and never fails to be inventive.
The second issue we see the first display of a heart beating within the chest of this cold genius when Jeremy drinks an experimental “accelerated growth and gene-splicing” serum which causes him to turn into a gigantic lizard. Barry intends to do what he always does, destroy the evidence, but halts at pulling the trigger on just one of his stockpile of massive armaments. This character trait sets the stage for many future situations where Barry displays unexpected compassion.
In the final chapter of series one the audience is introduced to Barry’s love interest, Sara. And in what better fashion than as a damsel in distress, at the hands of uzi-wielding art thieves. It’s in this issue that we see the continuation of Barry’s softer side, where he allows people he cares about to influence his decisions, which are often times too logical and rationally devoid of emotion. Jeremy and Sara will, throughout the entirety of the series, act as Barry’s moral compass, adding depth, value and wisdom to this oft light-hearted book.
The second mini-series continues the trend of independent story issues. The first of which involves an alien that crash lands on Earth. Barry sets out to explore, Jeremy of course tags along and it’s Jeremy’s affection for the little “E.T.” that gets Barry in a heap of trouble. Winick sets a new precedent with this issue: Barry will fight to keep those he loves safe. It creates a world of possibilities that erupt in many action sequences in issues to come.
Issue two takes a page from pop culture and lands Barry and Jeremy in the wild wild west; even the cover is reminiscent of the movie. It’s a light-hearted issue in which Barry is confronted, once again, with the challenge of being friends with lesser minded people.
The third installment of volume two is something of a culmination piece. It involves a situation where a secret government agency that monitors all sale and purchase of technology attempts to kidnap Barry. They desire to use his brilliant mind for their own purposes. The snag in the plan is that they nab Jeremy instead after tranquilizing Barry’s parents. Barry has always feared those closest to him getting hurt or taken because of their association with him. He’s forced to confront his want to kill everyone involved with this transgression and his desire to keep his best and only friend safe from harm.
Barry Ween: Boy Genius is an outstanding comic, hands-down one of the best I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. It’s incredibly intelligent, witty, hilarious, vulgar and astute in its observations on life. For all these reasons this book gets my first rating of
This is a must-have for any comic book fan. Check back next week when I continue my review of the Barry Ween: Boy Genius saga in volumes three and four.
So, my friends, go Bin Diving and find this and other gems!
Until next time,
This is Bin Fodder Guru Tim Blacksmith signing off!