I think I have a third printing of the first issue of Herobear and the Kid and you’re probably like, “big whoop” but take in to consideration that it reached at least five printings. I think it ended up even higher than that, but I couldn’t find anything to support my memory. It was a difficult book to find, but I really enjoyed the first series and the crossover with Decoy. I honestly wish that there was more Herobear to enjoy as I feel that it could have changed the all-ages landscape of comics for years to come. At any rate, I’m happy that Boom! has published this special. The story, as Kunkel describes it, is narrated in a Wonder Years style in which our main character Tyler narrates looks at his past. Tyler wakes up early for school for once and decides to use his imagination instead of getting ready. This causes him to be late and miss the bus. Instead of running to school he touches the nose of his small stuffed polar bear doll and Herobear transforms. He rides his best friend/superhero to school and sadly makes it in time. After his usual routine of encountering the prettiest girl in school and narrowly escaping some bullies, Tyler sits and waits for school pictures. His compass that indicates trouble begins beeping and so he volunteers to be the first to take his picture and then takes off with Herobear to fight evil instead.
What is absolutely great about the story is the message it delivers. It’s very much like Wonder Years or really any narrative in which the main character looks back on their life and exposes a life lesson that they learned. The great thing is that you won’t see this one coming. Kunkel’s writing is heartfelt and though it’s completely new it gives you those pings of nostalgia while reading it. There is nothing else quite like Herobear and I just wish that there was more to read and experience. This one-shot has a great pacing as it reintroduces Tyler and Herobear to new and old readers; it carefully walks the reader through every aspect of Tyler’s life and keeps each stage entertaining.
Kunkel has an extensive art and animation background which gives Herobear a very animated look. Kunkel is so skilled that at times his page set up guides your eyes in such a way that you’ll think you’re looking at a flip book. The character movement and facial expressions in particular supply the most animated look of the issue. Frankly I can’t find the worlds to capture how fantastic the art is. I wish could say more, but it’s something you should just experience.
There is something about this series that sets your imagination on fire. It reminds you of why comics exist and the simpler times of animation; animation that focused on story and style rather than action figures and time slots. Hopefully Herobear has found a lasting new home at Boom! And Kunkel will produce more one-shots or approve others to help on the franchise. At the very least he could produce one new issue a year and I would be there for it. If you’ve never had the pleasure of checking out this amazing all-ages series then definitely grab this issue. I’m betting Boom will reprint the first volume as well so that even more people have expose to this great series, but we’ll have to see.
Writer/Artist/Creator: Mike Kunkel
Publisher: KaBoom and Boom Studios
Release Date: 6/5/13