Before Phineas and Ferb spent their summer vacation creating new stuff every day and before Stewie built an arsenal to kill Lois on Family Guy, there was another young inventor. A genius. A creator. A kid who spews profanity and looks like a troll doll. This boy is Barry Ween, and his story is told through the comic book miniseries The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius.

Barry Ween is a genius -- and he's known that since beore his birth. Barely tolerating the kids at school and adults at home, he conducts his experiments -- from cloning to advanced weaponry -- as best he can. Whether he'll turn into a superhero or supervillain remains to be seen, but Barry has plenty of time to decide: He's ten years old.

Of course, Barry's experiments tend to get interrupted by things like giant interdimensional apes, covert military groups, annoying aliens, time warps, sasquatches, and a school dance threatened by a contagious monkey. Then there's Jeremy. Jeremy is Barry's best (and possibly only) friend. Jeremy is also a poster boy for A.D.D., not to mention obsessed with naked women, anything gross, and Oreos. Jeremy created plenty of trouble for Barry, but Jeremy is also the one most likely to keep Barry from solving a problem by disintegrating it. Later issues have Sarah, the cute girl Barry has a crush on.

The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius is essentially a twelve issue miniseries, printed invididually, in four collections of three issues each, or one big collection. (I have the middle option.) This comic is anarchistic fun. Barry is neither hero nor villain but rather a protagonist, as ready to protect his friends as to mindwipe anyone discovering his intellect. The kids (and most adults) here curse as much as South Park, but without the bleeping. (As Barry says when Jeremy gets kidnapped, "You people are fucking with the wrong ten-year-old.") Most of the issues are self-contained, but the "monkey saga" in the latter books leads to a surprisingly touching finale. And writer-artist Judd Winick ended the story early enough so that it didn't get overdone or drawn out. The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius is often juvenile, always crass, but very, very funny.

Overall grade: B+
Reviewed by James Lynch


zakk said...

Well, this is an unexpected delight. I've read Barry Ween over a year ago (or is it more...?) and had been a fan since.

Maybe an article about "Agatha Heterodyne, Girl Genius" is in order? :)

James Lynch said...

I love GIRL GENIUS, but I haven't read it since it went from individual issues to online and collected. Perhaps I'll have to pick up the stories I missed.

So, would you want to see a XXXENOPHILE review for V-Day?

zakk said...

Now that I have found out what XXXENOPHILE is: yes, please :)