What is the sound a falling tree makes in the forest when there is no one around? I’m afraid this is a question we may never know the answer to. As long as Shirtless Bear-Fighter has air to breathe, he will protect the forest. Those trees, under his watchful eye, don’t know how good they have it. Shirtless Bear-Fighter! (Image Comics) is quite possibly the most absurd comic book I’ve read since the 1980’s. That is exactly why I love it.
With Shirtless now being held captive by the evil mastermind behind Fuzzy Wipes toilet paper, Jaxson Logger, all hope seems lost. The trees are being cut down, Brother Bear is menacing our hero, and Shirtless, has lost his super human power, by being forced to wear a shirt. Dark days are indeed at hand. If you’ve not yet learned in the first two issues, you should never bet against the Shirtless Bear-Fighter! He has the strength of a lion and the heart of…..well, a bear. His desire to protect the wild land around him is only matched by his distaste for all bears. In this third issue, you will get a glimpse into the root of his anger.
The creative team of Jody Leheup, Sebastian Girner, and Nil Vendrell have fashioned this world with a larger than life character who deserves more than this short six issue run. The story, written by Leheup and Girner, is a piece of contemporary American folklore. Shirtless belongs alongside John Henry, Paul Bunyan and Bigfoot.
With a seemingly endless supply of ideas for this character, the writing team bring forth something which has been missing from many modern comic books. Unabashed joy and humor. The cartoon like art of Nil Vendrell and color by Mike Spicer add to the flavor of this book by keeping the pages light and interesting. The art direction really seems to harken back to Saturday morning cartoons, minus the pixelated dong of course! Comic fans from teen to adult with a sense of humor will really appreciate this book.
Not since the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has the name of a comic book made pause to reflect on the words I’d just read. Shirtless Bear-Fighter, does the same for me today. Everything about the book has perfect comic timing, balanced with strong writing, and a flair for the ridiculous. This is a book written for comic book fans, by a creative team, who has not forgotten how to have a good time.
Story: Jody Leheup, Sebastian Girner
Art: Mike Spicer, Nil Vendrell
Cover: Andrew Robinson
Variant Cover: Jacob Chabot, Sheldon Vella