Bear Faced Cheek
Tripwire Contributing Writer OLLY MACNAMEE takes a look at Image’s Shirtless Bear Fighter#1 out this Wednesday…
Shirtless Bear Fighter No.1
Writers: Jody LeHeup & Sebastian Girner
Artist: Nil Vendrell Pallach
In what could become the perfect antidote for those of us who are already missing the humour of Chew (although, we do have I Hate Fairyland, of course) comes a promising debut issue for Image’s new ‘funny book’, Shirtless Bear Fighter. A hero cut from the same cloth as Tarzan – well, the leftover rags at least – our hero of the hour is more than shirtless when we meet him hidden deep in the same forest he calls his home. A fact that cannot be unseen by a shocked Agent Silva, one of a party of FBI agents set on tracking ‘Shirtless’ down for a very important mission. Which, of course, involves bears.
That, in a nutshell, is the plot. It’s a whacky premise and we are given a hero to match. And gags on each page aplenty too. There is the playful use of worn out comic book cliches that ‘Shirtless’ has adopted as his own. It would seen that, just like Batman’s obsession with prefixing all his gadgets with ‘Bat’ this and ‘Bat’ that, this tradition is not lost on our bear bruising hero, taking it to ridiculous, yet logical, lengths. Why would he need a Bearplane anyway? And, that’s the point too. Writers Jody LeHeup and Sebastian Girner aren’t expecting any suspension of disbelief, far from it. There is no logic to certain events, and neither should there be. In case we forget, this is a comic; normal rules don’t apply. Although, the sensible, sceptical Agent Silva is curious – on behalf of the reader – in wondering how her boss, Agent Burke, knows Shirtless so well, if our hirsute hero has lived all his life in the forest and amongst bears. Does it matter? No. Let the fun continue, Silva.
And continue it does, throwing even more jokes and knowing winks at its readership on as we are given a ‘secret origin’ style story as well as setting up the big bad. And, all in the first issue too.
Nil Vendrell Pallach’s artwork is solid – reminding me somewhat of Dan Mora’s style on Klaus (Boom! Comics) and, thanks to his ability to show a wide variety of expressions, emotions and the right amount of goofiness, is a nice fit for a comic that doesn’t take itself too seriously, even though the art, intentionally, says differently. It clearly wants to be seen on the surface as another super powered comic, but that’s the point, I think. It knows it isn’t, but rather than simply exaggerate the art, have the story stand as testament to it’s parody instead. What works in Chew, or even I Hate Fairyland, isn’t necessarily want this title needs and I think it this oversized first issue does a great job of setting out its stall for future issues.
Go hunt down this debut issue this Wednesday for yourself from all good (and, not so good, I imagine) comic books stores or digitally.