Archive for Bears!

A Dose of Awesome: Bears!

Just about every time we talk about why some stuff is awesome, I’ve got a pretty good idea why they’re considered so cool. But I’m a little stumped when it comes to bears. Yes, I absolutely believe that bears are awesome. But I also believe bears are pretty dang scary, too.

On the one paw, we’ve got stuff like this:

Almost impossibly cute, aren’t they? There’s a reason why teddy bears are so popular. Bears can be so cute, especially as cubs, but even as adults sometimes. Like this guy:

Aww, look, he thinks he’s Batman!

Why I bet all bears are cute like that, aren’t they? Come on, kids, let’s head up to Yellowstone and feed the bears some jelly donuts!

Uh, maybe not.

You wanna get fairly nervous about bears? Read this article about “bear danger.” You wanna get good and squicked-out about a dude who bought into the idea that bears were big cuddly huggyfuns and paid the ultimate price for it? Read about Timothy Treadwell. You wanna decide you’d rather never go into the woods again? Read this terrifyingly long list of fatal bear attacks in North America. We’re lucky the bears haven’t turned Yellowstone National Park into one huge tourist buffet. All those idiots feeding bears sandwiches out of their cars are just asking for it. And don’t get me started on those adorable polar bears in the Coca-Cola ads.

Maybe that’s what makes bears so cool. They’re cute — heck, I think we can call even an adult bear beautiful — as well as massive, powerful, fast, smart, and agile. And for all their beauty, for all the times they seem docile and good natured, they are just about the scariest, most dangerous animals we can find. That’s kinda awesome all by itself.

That’s not true for all bears, of course. Some are just plain huggable.

‘Scuse me, I meant Huggy. Still awesome anyway.

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Legendary Stardust Cowboy

Reed Gunther #3

Rough and tough (but not real smart) cowboy Reed Gunther and his bear Sterling are waiting on a train so they and Reed’s kinda-sorta gal-pal Starla can go after the dastardly Mr. Picks, who’s stolen a bunch of cave monsters so he can display them and make a fortune. But the train won’t let bears aboard, so Reed smuggles Sterling into an empty cattle car. While Reed and Starla travel in style, the old idol packed into the car with Sterling starts floating and glowing… and making monsters, including a steel-driving railroad zombie. Eventually, everyone makes it to Topeka, but can they keep Mr. Picks from finding out about idol’s other powers? All that plus pinups, a sketchbook, and a guest appearance by Grover Cleveland! Holy baloney, Grover Cleveland!

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good all-ages Western fun from Shane and Chris Houghton. The artwork combines cartoonish, exaggerated characters with lots and lots of detail on everything else. Lots and lots of excellent humor, and the zombie is good and scary, too.


Batgirl #6

Stephanie got shot in the head last issue — well, grazed only, which is a good thing, ’cause it’d mean this series ended too early. At any rate, she escapes from the ambulance with Oracle’s help, spars with the always-attitudinal Robin, and gets ordered by Batman to stop pursuing the case of her kidnapped friend, Francisco Gracia. Of course, she ignores him. In fact, she and Robin start their own independent investigation, interviewing the kidnap victim’s girlfriend to find out that Francisco’s father has a bad gambling problem, and he’s made a deal to get the debt erased — Roulette, a slinky villain who runs a gladiatorial arena and casino, is going to take bets on three villains who are hoping to kill Batman.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is turning into a really fun superhero comic. Great dialogue and humor, excellent action, metric tons of personality and smarts. It’s fun watching Stephanie try to fit her less-angsty personality into the mostly dysfunctional Bat-family. Favorite moments this issue: Stepanie and Damien’s interrogation of Francisco’s girlfriend, and the great dialogue between Dick Grayson and Babs Gordon.

Booster Gold #28

Booster smacks around the Royal Flush Gang, then gets called back into the timestream for another chronal crisis. In this case, it’s a mission he’d prefer to skip — he has to save the shuttle mission that ended with astronaut Hank Henshaw becoming the evil Cyborg Superman. Unfortunately, he’s not there to prevent the disaster — he’s supposed to make sure the shuttle goes into space as scheduled to make sure Henshaw’s position as a supervillain isn’t prevented. Meanwhile, Booster’s sister Michelle, on the run through time, realizes that she’s stuck in Coast City mere hours before the Cyborg Superman blows the city to cinders. Our second feature focuses on Jaime Reyes, the Blue Beetle. Concerned that his Scarab is acting up, he and his friends take a trip to Egypt to visit the pyramid where the original Blue Beetle found the Scarab in the ’40s. Unfortunately, his attempt to get the Scarab back to normal may actually be too successful…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of fun stuff here — the Royal Flush Gang makes for entertaining cannon fodder for Booster, and it’s kinda nice to get to see the Cyborg Superman again in all his inglorious glory. The backup Blue Beetle story might be even better, with one of the better cliffhangers I’ve seen in these second features.

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Tales of the Wild West


Reed Gunther and the Steak Snacking Snake!

Reed Gunther is a rough, tough, fast-talking cowboy who rides a bear named Sterling. What kind of cowboy rides a bear instead of a horse? He’s either the toughest cowboy in the Wild West, or his bear is unusually pleasant and vegetarian. Reed and Sterling are camping out on the range when Reed runs afoul of a woman rancher named Starla — he tried to spy on her while she was bathing in the river, and she didn’t take too kindly to that. Starla is soon distracted by Sterling, who she thinks is about to eat all her cows. And soon enough, they’re all severely distracted by the thing that’s really got Starla antsy — there’s a giant rattlesnake living in the river, and it’s been all she can do to keep it from eating her whole herd. Can the three of them figure out a way to stop the monster snake? And if they do, will the solution be worse than the original problem?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Shane and Chris Houghton have cooked up a very funny and accessible most-ages comic (“most ages” ’cause there’s a little killin’ here and there, and some young’uns could get upset). Reed and Sterling are very entertaining characters, and Starla makes a great action heroine. The dialogue is excellent, the action is exciting, and the artwork is the best kind of cartoony — fun and funny while also pushing the story onward and upward.


Reed Gunther in a Stalac-Tight Spot!

The second Reed Gunther adventure finds the cowpoke and his ursine sidekick venturing underground on a quest into a cursed cave to find gold. Unfortunately, the shady character who organized the expedition is looking for riches that have nothing to do with gold, and everything to do with capturing a few of the rampaging, underground, monsters in the cave to display in a circus. And worse than that, he doesn’t care what happens to Reed as long as he gets his monsters — and Sterling — for his show. Starla makes another appearance, rescuing the one person who could help save Reed and Sterling, but his idea of a solution doesn’t have much to do with saving anyone — more like “blowing up the caves and the whole town,” which isn’t really a good plan of action.

Verdict: Another thumbs up. Reed, Sterling, and Starla are still lots of fun, but even the supporting cast gets some great characterization, without being turned entirely into Western stereotypes. The action is even better here, with several outright cinematic moments, and the suspense, even for a mostly-kids’ comic, is first-rate.

Y’all go hunt these down.

EDIT: I got Sterling’s name wrong all the way through both reviews. How hyoomiliatin’.  :/

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Where Walks the Cyber Bear!


Buck Rogers #1

I wasn’t actually planning on picking this one up, but I flipped through it and found one specific thing that guaranteed I’d be bringing it home.

This is essentially a new, rebooted origin for Buck Rogers, the swashbuckling sci-fi pulp hero who got his start back in the late ’20s. Much of the story is fairly familiar — hot-headed pilot Buck Rogers is accidentally put into suspended animation aboard his experimental spaceship and wakes up several hundred years in the future. Not knowing where (or when) he is, he crashlands his ship in a convenient stretch of forest and is rescued by Colonel Wilma Deering. Unfortunately, they’re both stuck in a hunting zone used by an organization called the Pack, and they both get attacked by one of the Pack hunters…


Let that soak in — a cybernetically enhanced grizzly bear with a raygun.

Yes, welcome to your shiny, futuristic new home in Awesometown.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Yes, yes, the cyber-bear is fun, but as for the rest of the story… I’m cautiously optimistic. So far, the writing is solid and the art is solid. Can they keep this going, with or without awesome cyber-bears? Let’s hope so.


Secret Six #10

The Six get hired by someone claiming to be their old benefactor, Mockingbird, to escort a large and dangerous-looking box to a jungle compound. It quickly becomes clear (to the readers, particularly, if not the team itself) that the folks who just hired them are particularly cruel slavers, willing to execute any number of their workers just to punish a single rebellious slave. Of course, the Six aren’t really very nice people — they’re doing the job so they can get paid, not because they want to work with fine, upstanding citizens. But do the slavers have some unpleasant plans for the Six themselves? On top of that, Scandal Savage and Bane continue to grow closer, and the extremely weird romance between Deadshot and Jeanette keeps getting weirder.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Our main villains’ ruthlessness is demonstrated very brutally in the first four pages of the comic, and again, more unexpectedly, in the last two. These are definitely rotten customers, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that a few of them get entertainingly killed before the end of the storyarc. Also, excellent dialogue and characterization for Bane, Scandal, Deadshot, and Jeanette.

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Friday Night Fights: The Unexpected Return!

When Bahlactus called an end to Friday Night Fights, I expected that someone would eventually bring it back, but I wasn’t expecting it to make its return so soon. But Spacebooger has already jumped forward to make sure the comics blogosphere’s greatest and most brutal tradition continues.

But enough of the preamble: Let’s get going with the All-New, All-Different FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

From Amazing Spider-Man #573 from just a few weeks ago, by Mark Waid, Patrick Olliffe, and Serge LaPointe, Spidey takes on a bank-robbing villain named the Grizzly, with running commentary from Stephen Colbert:



Bear-fighting, the Wall Crawler, and a fake TV pundit — not a bad way to bring FNF back into action…

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Bear Attack!


The Age of the Sentry #2

I didn’t think I’d keep reading this, but dangit, when your cover features a giant monster called Ursus the Ultra Bear, I am helpless to resist.

We get a couple Silver-Age-style stories here — the first, in which the diabolical Cranio (The Man with the Tri-Level Mind) unleashes Ursus on the world, and the second where Marvel’s superheroes are mysteriously avoiding the Sentry, but what terrifying secret are they hiding?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good gravy, this is cool. Plot synopses alone cannot demonstrate how cool, amazing, and hilarious this is. Carol Danvers shows up as Sentry’s girl-sidekick, the Sentress, wearing an altered version of her Ms. Marvel costume. Truman Capote antagonizes the Sentry throughout most of the comic, reveals that he has a bear phobia, and flashes back to a scene from “To Kill a Mockingbird.” There’s a character named Harrison Oogar, the Caveman of Wall Street. The Sentry’s superpowered corgi Watchdog pees on a fire hydrant and blows it up. A teaser ad for a Sentry annual includes characters like Zombin Hood, Howie Lovecraft, and X-Rex: Reptile Ranger! It even has a moment of modern-day creepiness that works out fairly well. The whole thing was much fun.


1985 #6

The final issue of this series, set on an alternate, superhero-less Earth in 1985. Marvel’s supervillains have invaded, and Galactus, Devourer of Worlds, is preparing to, well, devour the world. Luckily, Toby has made it back from the Marvel Universe with all the superheroes in tow, and they make mincemeat of the bad guys. Toby and his dad rush off to the old Wyncham Mansion, where it’s revealed that the brain-damaged Clyde Wyncham was the planet’s lone mutant, able to breach dimensions, control minds, and even raise the dead. He’s the one who brought the villains here, and he’s been controlling them from the beginning. Toby’s dad tries to talk sense to Clyde, but will his efforts come too late?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Much better than I expected it to be, along with a nice, bittersweet ending.


The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Sketchbook

Looks like Marvel is going to be publishing a comic version of the classic fantasy. This is a promotional giveaway showing off Skottie Young’s artwork and designs for the characters. So there’s no plot, just some nice artwork.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Hey, it’s free! But the art is very nice, too. Looks like just the thing for fantasy-loving kids, and grown-up fans of the Oz books should also enjoy it.

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Teddy Bear Picnic

Believe it or not, today is apparently Teddy Bear Day. I know, I know, that’s what I thought, too. I don’t know if Hallmark is just powerful enough where they can designate any crazy holidays they want to sell more cards, or if there’s some groundswell movement by crazy people to get people to, I don’t know, hug teddy bears or something.

But never let it be said that I won’t shamelessly jump on any ol’ bandwagon that rolls down the hill, a’ight?








Alright, I’ve done my sacred duty as a comics blogger, so now I’m gonna go off and read edgy comics about cool people who wear black clothes and smoke cigars.

(looks around to make sure no one’s watching)

(hugs secret teddy bear hidden under bed)

(resolves to go find that “Death is a Windup Bear” story somewhere)

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