Follow TV Tropes


Comic Book / The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius

Go To
Barry gets PISSED.

You people are fucking with the wrong ten-year-old.
— Barry, after TIMM attempts to abduct him and grabs Jeremy instead.

The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius is a comic book by Judd Winick, published by Image Comics and Oni Press over the course of three series between 1999 and 2002 (which, incidentally, makes it older than another famous boy genius).

It follows the life of Barry Ween — the world's smartest human, a ten-year-old Gadgeteer Genius who hides his intellect from the rest of the world — and his friend Jeremy Ramirez, a hyperactive and sex-obsessed, but overall rather normal, boy of the same age who's the only one to know Barry's secret.

The series is known for its profanity-rich dialogues and has been described as "Dexter's Laboratory meets South Park"; and it delights in subverting and lampshading many common comic tropes.

The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adults Are Useless:
    • The only thing Barry's parents do in the comic is fail to notice anything weird in their son (it's implied Barry mind-wipes them when they do, to be fair). Jeremy's parents hardly ever appear, though it's made clear his mom is overprotective and zealously religious.
    • Another sterling example which doubles as Police Are Useless: When Barry and Jeremy's classmates are trapped in a museum with armed thieves, the local police argue with the curator on why the latter has a security system installed when the former can do the job. Then the argument devolves into childish levels with the curator replying that the cops couldn't "catch the clap in a whorehouse" The cop calls the curator a "sissy" and the latter responds with "pig", thus forcing Barry and Jeremy to take matters into their own hands.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Barry, due to his Deadpan Snarker quips, comes off as this, such as responding to a bully asking whether he had 'sucked any weenies' by "Yes - your dad paid $100 for me to suck his" and once to Jeremy's request to join him by saying he'd let him come along if they had sex. At the very least, it's clear he's quite comfortable with his sexuality.
  • Another Dimension: The origin place of Bezeerul, a superintelligent ape with psychic powers. Barry, Jeremy and Sara even get to visit it at the end of the third series.
  • Author Avatar: Sara is very clearly based in whole or in part on Winick's wife Pam Ling.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: The probable explanation to the insane amounts of badassitude Barry harbors. See below.
  • Badass Bookworm: Barry has demonstrated to know enough anatomy to put most opponents out with a single finger. Just imagine what happens whenever he pulls out a weapon (of which he invented a lot). Winick never got around to discussing it in the actual comics, but if you read the single issues' letter columns, he discusses occasionally that part of Barry's super-intelligence is the ability to tap into his body's physical potential via biofeedback and other methods. Thus, when Barry has to, he goes flipping around the landscape like Spider-Man on a crack bender.
  • Berserk Button: "Oh dude. He went and touched Barry." Barry is bad-tempered at the best of times, but do not lay hands on him against his will if you value your appendages.
  • Blessed with Suck: Especially in the latest comics, Barry makes it clear how hard it is not being able to ever stop thinking. The frustration of living The Masquerade is also addressed early in the comic.
    Barry: And I don't sleep.
    • Knowing this makes reading some of the earlier stories more poignant, especially the one after they meet Bigfoot, and Barry is teasing Jeremy about his crush on the (now human-looking and attractive) young female bigfoot. Their back & forth, followed by the mock "fight", is probably one of the only times poor Barry has been able to just totally unwind and act like the kid he really is.
  • Book Ends: In his first story, Barry accidentally opens an interdimensional portal in the basement. Another basement portal (although not created by Barry this time) kickstarts the plot of the final trilogy.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Discussed. When Barry gives up on stealth and starts blasting through TIMM headquarters, Jeremy tells Nathan Haas to "shit yourself now while you still got the plumbing." Later, when Barry arrives and knocks out everyone except Jeremy and Haas, Jeremy asks Haas, "Howz that fudgie in your undies comin' now?"
  • Cassandra Bystander: When Mr. Goldblatt sees Barry and Jeremy chasing a dinosaur, they point out that he really doesn't want to tell anyone.
    Barry: Say, Mr. Goldblatt, if you tell people that you saw a dinosaur being chased down Elm Street by two ten-year-olds in a Bronco, they'll think just two things...
    Mr. Goldblatt: Alzheimer's and nursing home. [...] I didn't see nothin'.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The series started out completely devoted to humor. A late story where he traveled to another world was significantly more serious.
  • Child Prodigy: The title character is a boy genius.
  • Covert Group with Mundane Front: Technological Intelligence Movement Monitor, a No Such Agency that tracks technology invention and usage, hides behind the front of the Foliage Census.
  • Crossover: The obscure story "Ween-Out" has Barry and Jeremy meeting Carrie from Greg Rucka's Whiteout. It was collected in Oni's recent Barry Ween omnibus.
  • Death Ray: One of Barry's inventions is a ray that can kill anything.
  • Dirty Kid: Barry's friend Jeremy tends to be obsessed with seeing girls naked, with one of the demands he makes for TIMM when they mistake him for Barry is to watch the entire library of Traci Lords (a porn star whose work was nearly entirely banned when it was discovered she lied about her age and was a minor for most of it). Barry lampshades this in "How the West Was Weened" after Jeremy is used to test a teleporter and wastes no time asking if it could be used to beam him into the girls' locker room.
    Barry: It wounds me a little when I show you a new invention and you immediately think with your dick...
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first series showed several people aside from Jeremy that were in on Barry's secret. In later installments, the idea of anyone but Jeremy discovering Barry's intellect is always treated as Serious Business.
    • Minor example: Barry's memory-erasing ray guns are a staple of the series, but in the very first issue he gives a kid amnesia with an pharmaceutical injection.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Barry Ween can invent any device or gizmo he needs.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: The time Barry accidentally turned Jeremy into a dinosaur. Barry earlier acknowledged that he makes a lot of mistakes during his experiments. Explosions, Body Horror, etc.
  • Heroic BSoD: In the final story when Barry time travels to save Sara's life, prevent a catastrophe and generally Set Right What Once Went Wrong, after he ensures everything is ok, he sneaks off to the kitchen, lays in a fetal position and cries piteously over the massive amount of emotional and physical trauma he experienced.
  • Impossible Task Instantly Accomplished: In a storyline, inhabitants of a parallel universe asks Barry's help to retrieve a MacGuffin from a Temple of Doom that no one has ever survived. They acknowledge it's a desperate task, and they just hope that in the time he can spend in their dimension (two days) Barry will find some clue they can build upon. When they finish talking, they realize with horror that Barry has left for the temple in mid-explanation — and he gets back one minute later, MacGuffin in hand.
  • Improbably High I.Q.: Barry claims to have an IQ of 350 (although he adds "if it could be measured" in one occasion).
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Barry's favorite way of dealing with who discovers his little secret.
  • The Masquerade: The only one to know of Barry's brain is Jeremy, plus possibly a few others who present no threat. (Old Mr. Goldblatt knows he'd be put in a nursing home as soon as he claimed to have seen Barry and Jeremy chase scurrying dinosaurs.)
  • Mistaken for Masturbating: Inverted. When asked by his parents why he's been in the bathroom so long, he shouts back "I'm masturbating! Go away!!"; while trying to dispose of the results of his latest failed experiment (which stubbornly keeps trying to climb back out of the toilet).
  • Mistaken Identity: When TIMM attempts to capture Barry, they accidentally capture Jeremy instead.
  • Morality Chain: The Origins Episode "Adventures in Babysitting" shows that before meeting Jeremy, Barry dealt with his problems and experiments gone wrong by simply killing them off but now exercises restraint and tends to go with a memory wipe instead.
  • No Infantile Amnesia: Barry even remembers when he still was inside the uterus! He was already self-aware at the time.
  • No Tech but High Tech: When Barry and Jeremy land in an alternate dimension that is said to have "no technology", because the laws of physics there make anything that uses energy drain at an accelerated pace. resulting in even something like fire being hard to utilize. The inhabitants, however, have managed to construct a decent city.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Barry is an expert of any subject known to man, plus some that are still unknown. If you have questions about aliens or Bigfoot, he's your man.
  • Origins Episode: The fourth issue of the Monkey Tales series explains the first meeting between Barry Ween and his friend Jeremy Ramirez.
  • Plato Is a Moron: Three stories begin with Barry quoting a famous intellectual and then proceeding to insult him.
    2nd Issue: When asked if he felt like a failure for failing 1000 times to make a light bulb famed inventor Thomas Edison said "I did not fail, I just discovered 1000 ways that don't work"... What an asshole! Smart guy, sure, but also a patent thief with an ego rivaling the amount of self-importantance I possess.
    5th Issue: Ernest Hemingway once said "true genius is the ability to learn fast"... For a suicidal drunk with a pathological fear of latent homosexuality, papa did all right.
    7th Issue: Jane Goodall once said "Chimpanzees, more than any other living creature, have helped us to understand that there is no sharp line between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom"... All those years living among apes, eating wild berries and adopting their behavior and this is her big revelation? That we are a lot like monkeys? This was a lady in serious need of a pizza and good lay.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Averted. Barry alters the world's sociopolitical equilibrium on a daily basis, but nobody knows it's him.
    Barry: Who built a wallet-sized hydrogen bomb yesterday and buoyed Eastern Europe's economy by covertly disrupting a secret trade embargo? Right! Just ME!
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Barry, Jeremy, and Sara all have a tendency to use foul language.
  • The Sleepless: During a rant about his Blessed with Suck status as a ten-year-old super-genius, Barry mentions that because his brain is always running at full tilt, he doesn't sleep, and in fact has never been able to. He's clearly found some off-screen way of keeping his body running without it, but he makes it clear that it's hell for him.
  • Super-Intelligence: Barry Ween is gifted with a highly advanced intellect.
  • Take That!: The introduction of the story "E.T., Go Home" has Barry mention that he made his first telescope by cannibalizing a video camera and an Atari 2600. He remarks that no one's going to miss the latter.
  • Time Travel: Happens a couple of times by accident. When Barry intentionally builds a time machine, it only has a range of eighteen minutes — although he uses it to transfer himself into his old self, cell by cell, which can be expected to be harder.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Starting with the second series, Jeremy is obsessed with Oreos.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Barry, of course; which makes a particularly strident contrast with Jeremy's scatter-brainedness.