SHIRTLESS BEAR-FIGHTER #5 ends the epic saga of insanity with a surprisingly dramatic battle. That doesn't mean any of the insanity is lost, though. The creative team of Jody Leheup, Sebastian Girner, Nil Vendrell, and Mike Spicer craft a worthy end to their tale.
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Hairy Ending

SHIRTLESS BEAR-FIGHTER #5 brings an end to Image Comics’ epic miniseries of naked wildman vs. intelligent bears. Writers Jody LeHeup and Sebastian Girner, with artists Nil Vendrell and Mike Spicer, craft a final issue that has all the bear punching, d**k swinging insanity we’ve come to love. However, they also craft a family breaking apart and a tragic betrayal.

SAMURAI JACK and the Endless Cycle of Violence

The Swirling Evil

First of all, the opening scene of the issue perfectly conveys the tone of the story. Shirtless cradles his dying bear-father as Logger, protected in his toilet battle suit (dear god I love this series!), reveals that he and Brother Bear organized all the horrors of Shirtless’s life. Logger gloats about taking over the forest and building his empire, until Shirtless attacks him, and finds a unique way to defeat him.

“Why would you even have that lever?!” Image courtesy of Image Comics

LeHeup and Girner show their skill at tonal transition here, as Logger and Brother Bear escape, only for Shirtless to hear the words of his dying bear father. The bear father admits how both sides have made mistakes and begs Shirtless to make things right — “to be my son.” It’s a powerful, aching moment in a comic known for its violent insanity. As a result, the writers show their skill here, shifting the crazy into drama that hits just as hard.

Shirtless takes the words to heart, and challenges Brother Bear to begin the final battle of the book and the series.


Fall of the Bear

The battle between Shirtless and Brother Bear proves as epic and bloody as you would expect. Even as they battle through a toilet paper factory, the comic never loses the dramatic feel of brother vs. brother. Nil Vendrell and Mike Spicer capture the violence and blood perfectly, giving this a perfect big fight feel. Their art echoes with kinetic energy throughout the comic, making everything feel alive in 2-D. Fights, humor, and dramatic moments all pop with intensity.

Shirtless Bear-fighter #5
Image courtesy of Image Comics

The fight ends not with brawn, however, but brains. Shirtless uses Brother Bear’s own strength to consequently end their rivalry once and for all. Therefore, Logger’s final solution fails as well. He is forced to surrender as the devil flies off with his solid gold toilet (just don’t question anything). The bears happily return to the forest. Most noteworthy, Shirtless leaves for a new mission, no doubt to battle his newest and most deadly foe.


SHIRTLESS BEAR-FIGHTER #5 ends a wonderful story of insane violence. Due to the inherent insanity, it’s all too easy for these kinds of stories to go off the rails. The creative team shows the proper restraint, however, and the book has been a joy. It echoes the mindless craziness of JOHNNY THE HOMICIDAL MANIAC, but the series never loses its sense of story and even family. The twisted insanity here does exist for a select audience. However, even the mainstream audience can laugh their heads off at the sheer crazy. SHIRTLESS BEAR-FIGHTER is simply honey gold. Go to your local comic shop, buy the issues and eat them with flapjacks.

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