BULLY WARS #5 is an excellent-paced finale that wraps up the current arc on a very satisfying note. Thanks to its charming school humor as well as great art and colors, Young and Conley stick the landing. We need more all-ages comics like this from Image Comics.
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The battle for the title of Rottenville High’s head bully reaches a climax. Who becomes the Bully Wars champion: Rufus, Spencer, or Hock? These answers and more await in BULLY WARS #5 by Scottie Young, Aaron Conley, and Jean-Francois Beaulieu. Needless to say, this issue delivers a heartwarming, satisfying conclusion to the current arc. Expect plenty of chases, rats, and school shenanigans on the scale of the previous issues.

The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend

When last we last left Spencer and Rufus, they were captured by Hock and his cronies. Thus, BULLY WARS #5 picks up immediately from the cliffhanger, as Hock taunts Edith and Ernie. Meanwhile, Rufus looks on as Hock questions Rufus’ allegiance to Spencer and friends. Ultimately Rufus reveals his alliance with Edith, Ernie, and Spencer to help Rufus win the Bully Wars. In exchange, Rufus promised to leave them alone all year. This surprises Hock who accuses Spencer and friends of being bullies. But Rufus rescues Spencer from Hock’s clutches. Then the pair makes a mad dash for the exit.

BULLY WARS #5 explores the repercussions of Hock’s toxic behavior on Rottenville High. Indeed, Edith and Ernie have a plan to end Hock and Rufus’ rivalry. Their plan involves all of Hock’s victims and playing dodgeball. While Rufus gets hurt in the crossfire, Hock and his cronies go down in defeat. As a result Spencer upholds his end of the bargain and helps Rufus win the War. Except there’s a twist: whoever catches the rat mascot wins, not whoever catches Spencer. That is to say that Spencer emerges with Rufus disguised as the rat and wins the trophy.

Turning the Tide of War

Image courtesy of Image Comics

With BULLY WARS #5, we finally see major character development pay-off. Notably, the conflict between Spencer and Hock reaches a breaking point. But the real star of this issue is Spencer and Rufus’ bromance. For instance, after Edith and Ernie save them, Spencer shows compassion and buries the hatchet with Rufus. It’s satisfying to finally nice to see Rufus turn over a new leaf when he lets Spencer win the War. Towards the end of issue, Rufus wraps his arm around Spencer in solidarity to show how closely the two have grown.

BULLY WARS #5’s Art Continues to Delight

Aaron Conley dials up the cartoon-style action to eleven in this issue. Indeed, Conley draws some hilarious, high-octane panels. Notably, the aforementioned chase sequence calls to mind SCOOBY DOO’s chase scenes. Like SCOOBY DOO, BULLY WARS #5’s chase scene is ridiculous in nature. But Conley shows tension between Rufus and Hock who do whatever it takes to escape Old Yaktown High School. Some of these tactics includes a water fountain and a springboard floor trap. Best of all, Conley includes a few Easter eggs that fans of THE SIMPSONS and ROBOCOP are sure to love.

Image courtesy of Image Comics

Once again, Jean-Francois Beaulieu continues to do great color work in this issue. Beaulieu vibrantly fleshes out Conley’s kinetic, expressive lines. It’s quite fun to see action panels come to life, such as when Beaulieu colors the background in red to emphasize pain. But the highlight of Beaulieu’s colors is a climatic eight panel, double page spread where Hock goes down. We all recognize dodgeball’s iconic red rubber balls, so see a flurry of them across two pages sells the moment. Additionally, letterer Nate Piekos also deserves a mention for breaking up that moment with one balloon: “CEASE FIRE!”

BULLY WARS #5 is a Slam Dunk Finale

All in all, BULLY WARS #5 is an entertaining and satisfying issue. With themes such as acceptance and honor, Young and Conley hit a slam dunk. In addition, Conley and Beaulieu display some of their best work in this series. Although it’s anyone’s guess as to what direction it will go next, it’s a fun series. I would be disappointed if more BULLY WARS isn’t in the pipeline because this series oozes with charm. If you haven’t read the series and like Disney’s RECESS, it’s an easy recommendation.

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