Sunday, 10 December 2017

Shirtless Bear-Fighter! Review (Jody LeHeup, Sebastian Girner)


If you go down to the woods today, you're sure of a big (pixelated) surprise… 

The bears have invaded. Hopped up on magic bacon, with the backing of Big Toilet, they’re an unstoppable force of furious furriness – not even the army is a match for them! Only one man is naked enough to take them down, if he’ll come out of retirement for one last job: Shirtless Bear-Fighter!

This comic could’ve gone either way. It might’ve been way too crazy or not crazy enough but it turned to be juuuuust right! (Yup, that was a Goldilocks and the Three Bears pun – I’ll try to keep the bear puns in this review to the BEAR minimum but – ahhh! See!? I can’t help myself!)

Shirtless Bear-Fighter is a deliriously zany, over-the-top comedy about a naked mountain man who saves the world from bears. It’s utterly ridiculous but so very enjoyable as it’s crammed full of knowing action movie clich├ęs and doesn’t even attempt to make sense most of the time. Its off-the-wall humour made me genuinely laugh many times too like the cop who’s always talking about his time in the military, either when he and Shirtless were in ‘Nam, WW2 or the Civil War, the bears’ message to Shirtless which was just a piece of paper with gibberish written on it, or the bear fighting montage where Shirtless takes on the Chicago Bears football team and a bunch of hairy gay dudes in San Francisco. And I love that his Kryptonite is clothes!

Nil Vendrell’s art strikes the perfect balance for the tone – it’s cartoony enough for the comedy but not overly so as to undermine the jacked-up melodrama – and it was an inspired choice to pixel out Shirtless’ many gratuitous full frontal scenes rather than tastefully position him out of shot. You’ll never see a manlier baby than in this book!

The story doesn’t totally hang comfortably together at times. I get that it’s a deliberately cheesy aspect of the plot but there were too many rushed flashbacks thrown at me which I found a bit much. Also a couple of characters – the Hillbilly Warlock and Silva, the female cop – were unnecessary additions with Silva’s origin flashback being especially pointless. Generally though writers Jody LeHeup and Sebastian Girner did a spectacular job crafting a highly entertaining and readable action comedy, particularly as they’re usually editing comics rather than writing them.

You might need to be in a certain mood to enjoy this book but then I read it tired at the end of a long day and wary of its intentionally wacky jokes and it still won me over so maybe not! Shirtless Bear-Fighter is a great laugh, very colourful and imaginative, bursting with plenty of amusing details, and a ton of fun to read – easily the best new title Image have published this year!

No comments:

Post a Comment