Shirtless Bear-Fighter #5
Writer: Jody Leheup & Sebastian Girner
Artist: Nil Vendrell
Colorist: Mike Spicer
Letterer: Dave Lanphear
Publisher: Image Comics
A Review by Greg Brothers
Finally, we have made it to the end of the epic event that everyone has been anticipating…Shirtless Bear-Fighter #5!?! Wait is that not what you were expecting? Well, if you have been reading this series, then it would have been.
Shirtless Bear-Fighter #5 picks up right where the last issue ended, and Bear-Fighter’s dad lays injured in his arms. Bear-Fighter uses his fighting skills to try and flush Logger out of his giant porcelain thrown. As Logger tries to escape, Bear-Fighter is forced to face his past as he fights his own brother. It is a battle that will decide the fate of the forest.
Let’s be honest: when I started reading this series what I expected was a funny story about a shirtless guy who liked to fight bears. Even after the first issue, it was not obvious what was to come later. Shirtless Bear-Fighter #5 wraps up a series that has had more depth and emotion than I ever thought would appear. The sharp dialogue and the interactions are just as strong here as in any of the previous issues. The jokes are a nice combination of dad-jokes and toilet humor. With this combination, it allows for neither to become old or grating.
The pacing of Shirtless Bear-Fighter #5 is fast and keeps the story moving quickly. It makes sense as the story reaches it epic conclusion. Just like any good epic series, we get a false finish, but, unlike a bad action movie, it is quickly resolved. My only qualm is that we do not see the exact fate of one of our major villains, but that could have been by choice. As the series wraps up, the writers remind readers of the ramifications of the events throughout the series. It is something that sometimes even the most experienced writers do not do, so it is refreshing to see that everyone does not just move on with their life from here.
Vendrell and Spicer’s art and colors have been one of the things that drew me to Shirtless Bear-Fighter from the beginning. That continues throughout the fifth issue. The greys of the industrial locations versus the lush greens of the forest is striking. It shows the effort the Spicer has put into the series. Vendrell’s lines and character designs are consistently engaging. Logger and his face during his maniacal laugh is just one such point where the art shows how unhinged he has become. I am not sure who is responsible for the “sound effects,” but they are used brilliantly throughout the series and especially here in this final issue. From the BOOM that takes up half a full-page panel, to the smallest thap as bacon falls from the sky, all of them draw you into the panels and help establish the feel of the book.
Buy it! As I have said time and time again, Shirtless Bear-Fighter the series has been a wonderful surprise. A series that I expect to be filled with campiness and cartoonish violence has instead provided a fresh, original story about the importance of family. There are some political statements about corporate greed and conservation being in the forefront, but it is done in a way that does not take away from the rest of the story. Shirtless Bear-Fighter #5 is the conclusion that this series needed, and it thankfully leaves open the possibility to revisit this world soon.