Shirtless Bear-Fighter from Image Comics is over-the-top, intentionally offensive, raunchy, cheesy, campy, and totally ridiculous. It’s also, not surprisingly, really fun.
The humor will seem very familiar if you’re a fan of parody adventure movies like Hot Shots and just about every Leslie Nielsen movie out there. It’s got all the tropes: a baby raised by wild animals, a retired warrior with a vendetta who’s lured back to the fight, a super villain gleefully rubbing his hands while he mwah ha haas his way through his evil plan, the government operative who’s too old for this but the war is all he’s got left, the hero cradling a dead body in the rain and vowing revenge…all of it. Plus bears. Lots of bears.
At no time do you have a moment to take anything seriously. (I mean it, if you’re looking for a comic that tells a logical story and makes sense, go read something else. This story is goofy.) The government offers a bribe of maple syrup and pancakes (sorry, flapjacks), the hard-as-nails government woman can be distracted with cat videos, the super villain runs a toilet paper company (with not so subtle nods at a certain cartoon bear ad campaign) and our hero keeps walking around pantless and flaunting his impressive and not-quite-pixelated-enough manhood.
(Now I’m wondering if it’s only the review copy I read where we get the strategic pixelation. Probably not, they’d have to sell those suckers in plastic bags if we got to see him in his completely-rendered altogether. But still, these comics aren’t completely NSFW, but I wouldn’t want MY boss to look over my shoulder at them. But maybe your boss is different. Anyway.)
The humor dips into what I call Van Wilder territory sometimes, and I don’t think I needed to see the villain take a dump in his gold plated toilet, or a pig-man demanding someone rub butter on his….ahem, chest…but if you can give that a pass you’ll get weirdness that’s less gross and more…weird, like a man swimming up a waterfall like a salmon, because why not?
The art is a perfect match for the story, it’s exactly as exaggerated and crazy as you’d want in a comic where a guy fights bears bare-handed (see what I did there?) and instead of “Pow” and “Bam” sound effects we get a lot of “BEAR PUNCH!” But for all its exaggeration the art is really nicely done, it’s very engaging and fun to look at, (I love the expressions on Susan the most, which range from concern to total bewilderment and eye-rolling disbelief) and if you ever wanted to know what an airplane made out of bear skins would look like, well, now you know.
I got to check out the first three issues (number 1 is due out in June) and I’d originally agreed to look at them out of politeness. A shirtless (and occasionally pantless) mountain man who’s going to help the military save the world from out-of control bears? Pfeh. “Too silly for me,” I thought.
Turns out it’s exactly silly enough for me, and I hope I don’t have to wait too long to read issue 4.
Shirtless Bear-Fighter #1 will hit comic shops June 21, 2017.
Story: Jody Leheup, Sebastian Girner
Art: Mike Spicer, Nil Vendrell
Cover: Andrew Robinson