SHIRTLESS BEAR FIGHTER #1 BY JODY LEHEUP, SEBASTIAN GIRNER, AND NIL Vendrell
Story
Art
Characterization
Summary
A naked wild man, evil bears, government agents, and a plot to take over the world. Oh, and flapjacks. Welcome to the insanity that is SHIRTLESS BEAR FIGHTER #1. It's glorious.
93 %
BEAR PUNCH!

I am a purveyor of oddball media. I own a horror film about Nazi Zombies fighting against an army of Nazi Soviets. My favorite Broadway show is Sesame Street-type puppets getting drunk. I read a novel featuring Scotland destroyed by cows infected by zombie mad cow disease. SHIRTLESS BEAR FIGHTER #1 puts them all to shame.

The Bear Basics

Image’s newest limited series, created by Jody Leheup, Sebastian Girner, and Nil Vendrell, feels like a horror comedy mixed with what everyone imagines a Chuck Norris wild man film to be. The premise in the first issue is simple — a major city is invaded by the world’s angriest bears. The title character saves two lovers from a bear simultaneously.

SHIRTLESS BEAR FIGHTER #1
And that is how you make an entrance! (Courtesy of Image Comics)

Nil Vendrell’s art adds just enough grit to work while embracing the insane concept. Shirtless Bear Fighter looks the part of the ultimate wild man, while still being just silly enough to function. It’s a compliment to the writing of Leheup and Girner, who are clearly not afraid to go all out in being ridiculous. This story feels like something DC or Marvel would laugh off as too silly to work. This is what Image is around for, however. Leheup and Girner take the challenge and prove a silly story can still be quite entertaining if done right.

READ: It might not have bears but HARLEY QUINN #1 and #2 is plenty crazy!

Shirtless Bear Fighter (SBF) takes his kill home to his bear-house (don’t ask. Just don’t) and finds a group of government officials there. One man, Burke, knows SBF and asks the wild man for help. Shirtless Bear Fighter says no. Burke tries to bribe him with flapjacks and syrup. Yes, this actually happens.

Shirtless Bear Fighter #1
Courtesy of Image Comics

The offer doesn’t convince SBF, forcing the agents to leave. Burke tells the story of SBF to Agent Silva. Bears once lived in their villages peacefully years ago. Mama and Papa Bear found the bearded baby, SBF, and Papa Bear entrusted the forest to him. Burke said something happened then, something horrible, to change SBF and make him hate bears.

READ: If you like SHIRTLESS BEAR FIGHTER, you should visit a haunted carnival with WINNEBAGO GRAVEYARD!

Bear-Knuckle

The origin of Shirtless Bear Fighter is the most fascinating part of the story. It’s not 100% clear what set him against the bears that raised him but there are hints. The origin is especially relevant, as it works to balance the insanity of the tale, giving some dramatic backstory to counter the bizarre actions of the characters and their world. Because of that, it’s possible for the silly stuff to function without becoming overbearing.

Shirtless Bear Fighter
More or less (Courtesy of Image Comics)

Shirtless Bear Fighter joins up in his bear plane (WHY ARE YOU STILL ASKING AT THIS POINT), and resumes the fight against the bears in the city. The issue ends with a knockdown battle and a dramatic twist leaving readers wanting more.

READ: If fighting bears sound cool, imagine Deadpool going to Hell!

The Bear Facts On SHIRTLESS BEAR FIGHTER #1

SHIRTLESS BEAR FIGHTER #1 is brilliantly stupid. First of all, the concept is ridiculous, but the writers work to present it seriously without letting the joke go too far. It’s very similar to Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky’s SEX CRIMINALS in this fashion. The artwork is solid and provides good visual humor. Most importantly, there are enough dramatic questions to keep the reader’s interest without exhausting the core concept. This is a book that anyone with odd tastes or people who just need a break from straight superhero drama will enjoy.

Speaking of which, I just found a book about zombies on the Titanic…

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