By Daniel Vlasaty
If you’re like me (and just about most other people in the whole goddamn world) then you love big dumb action movies. I know I do. They’re my favorite. Especially if they’re from the 80s or early 90s. That’s when they were the best. So much bad hair and ridiculous dialogue. They were corny and exciting and not completely original – but that didn’t matter because you knew the good guy was going to save the day and get the girl, and they were usually good for some solid laughs, and over-the-top deaths, and a shit-ton of explosions. You know, the good stuff. This is how I feel about Shirtless Bear-Fighter. Watching him fly his bear plane to fight some bearrorists rampaging through the city. This is the vibe I get every time Burke gets that faraway look in his eyes and dips into the ever-changing story of his past. It’s like an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie from a bygone era, just with evil sentient bears, a half-pig hillbilly warlock, an evil toilet paper company, and a man that hates bears so much he’s made a promise to himself and the memory of his fallen love to punch every motherfucking bear he sees.
Issue #2 of Shirtless Bear-Fighter starts off right where the first ended, With Shirtless fighting two bears on the streets of Major City. He’s buried under a pile of rubble and everyone thinks he’s down for the count. The bears move on and go back to their rampaging. But that’s some amateur hour shit. This is the type of situation where you just know Shirtless might be down but he’s definitely not out. If anything he’s just pissed now. So it’s of no surprise to see him come blasting out of the rubble to pluck two falling anti-bear nukes out of the sky and shove them down the asshole bears’ throats. I mean maybe it was a little surprising. I know I wasn’t expecting that to happen, because it’s insane. But anyway. This is the kind of thing you can expect with Shirtless Bear-Fighter. Just all-out absolute craziness.
One of my favorite things about this book is that no one questions any of this. No one asks why any of this is happening. No one asks how a perpetually shirtless wild man from the woods, raised by bears, knows how to fly a bear plane. Or that he even has a bear plane in the first place. Or what the fuck a bear plane even is. Writers Jody Leheup and Sebastian Giner have created this insane world where all this shit is totally copasetic.
Shirtless Bear-Fighter is a solid combination of comedy and action. Comedy comics are a weird thing. I’m not sure I ever busted a gut laughing during a comic book, and Shirtless Bear-Fighter is no exception. It’s funny and comical and light-hearted, but by no means is it crap-your-pants, choke-on-your-beverage funny. The action, though, is pretty action-y. I’m talking there’s even a clichéd shot of Shirtless walking away from an explosion without looking back. Which is the epitome of action movie action-ness.
There’s also this great spread where Shirtless is fighting bears in various cities throughout the country. He’s in Houston, Atlanta, and New Orleans fighting bears. In New York he’s fighting stuffed teddy bears. In Chicago he’s fighting the shitty Chicago Bears football team. And in San Francisco he’s fighting a group of hairy, half-naked men. I found this to be one of the funniest things in the issue, and I imagined a super cheesy montage song playing over it in my head.
I really enjoyed Nil Vendrell’s art, and Michael Spicer’s colors. They were more serious than you’d maybe think for this book. The art is realistic while still managing to be playful. Bold and solid in both line work and coloring. I don’t have any issues with the art at all. It’s up there with some of the better art I’ve been seeing lately. And I found it to be refreshing and fun. It fits perfectly for the tone and feel of the book.
Listen, Shirtless Bear-Fighter isn’t going to be for everybody. Some of you will hate it because it’s “stupid” and doesn’t take itself seriously enough. While others will think the same things but come out with a different outcome. I liked the book a lot. I like things that are fun and light and funny and weird and stupid. I like dumbass action movies with ridiculous main characters and complex storylines and character interactions. Again, though, I feel I need to say that this book isn’t reinventing any wheels or anything like that. It’s just a fun book and I think if you give it a chance and just breathe you’ll see that too.
Shirtless Bear-Fighter #2