Metalshark Bro #1
Creators: Kevin Cuffe, Bob Frantz
Artists: Walter Ostlie
Letterer/Editor: Chas! Pangburn
Publisher: Scout Comics
Review by Jim Allegro
Don’t go in the water, bro! At least, not if you want to become a brutal anthropomorphic shark who collects souls for Satan. That’s the lesson of the entertaining new comic book from Scout Comics. Metalshark Bro #1 opens off the Bali coast as a passing shark devours a Satanist metal musician as he falls off a yacht. Angry at the lost soul, Satan’s nephew turns said shark into his bloodthirsty henchman. Beelzebra commands Metalshark Bro to collect nine damned souls before he agrees to turn him back.
The rest is a bold and original adventure that appeals to those seeking the breezy fun of a shark assassin with a knack for bad puns, as well as for those seeking more thoughtful commentary on the state of modern masculinity. Kevin Cuffe (IF Anthology) and Bob Frantz (co-founder of Loophole Comics) build a brisk story around clear plot points, lots of jokes, and engaging characters and situations. Their likeable anti-hero is as comfortable butchering comic shop owners as he is rocking out on a metal guitar or eating a stack of pancakes. And, his quest to free himself from Beelzebra leads to a funny subplot involving a corrupt Catholic Church and the ninja nuns and giant mechs that do its bidding.
The artwork is well-suited to the mix of violence and humor in this comic. Walter Ostlie (Shiver Bureau) and Shawn Greenleaf (Escape from Jesus Island) use sharp line-work and creative paneling to give Metalshark a sinister edge and the battle scenes a kinetic feel. The color scheme heightens the emotional intensity with a palette of hot reds, oranges, and pinks. Facial expressions and characterizations meanwhile remind us not to take things too seriously. This is, after all, a comic about a head-banging fish turned executioner.
But, for those who do take things seriously, Metalshark Bro #1 also provides commentary on modern bro culture. Underneath the references to “bro” and “brah” throughout the comic is a jab at the toxic nature of male privilege. This is a book populated by poorly-behaved and violent male characters and the corrupt value systems — Satanic and Christian — that protect them. That the main character is a shark should evoke the ultimate form of male predation. Except, in truth, Metalshark is really just a decent fish, making friends as he goes, and rejecting these broken value systems in a bloody and amusing cliffhanger that speaks volumes about the moral ambivalence of modern masculinity.
Verdict: Buy It.
Metalshark Bro #1 is a unique and imaginative comic with a great sense of humor. It is solid BUY for those seeking carefree fun and a subtle critique of bro culture for those who want more serious fare. Either way, it sure beats the same predictable and over-hyped stuff coming out of corporate comics nowadays. Check out the Facebook page here.
Available in your local comicbook shops April 24, 2019.