From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays, No.160
Hey all and welcome back to our all-ages comics column, From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays! This week we are going to look at Mike Kunkel’s Herobear and the Kid, now being published from Boom! Studios’ all-ages line. Herobear and the Kid was one of those titles that when announced it was being reprinted this year totally charged fans up. Originally published in 2002 and 2003, Kunkel left an impression on readers with the series in the early-otts. Even though only a handful read the series at that time, it grew in popularity post-publication, and before we knew it DC’s Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! hit stands, having Kunkel deliver a handful of early issues (which no one lived up to for the rest of the series after he set an awesome bar). Getting Kunkel to tackle some Herobear again and do back-up stories in these reprints will keep is his fans happy, and perhaps launch the next big thing in media-tie ins one day.
Issue #2 picks up right where we left off, as Tyler wakes up in the school nurse’s office, unsure if he really saw his stuffed bear he inherited from his dead Grandfather turn into a giant magical superhero bear or not. He quickly tries to make sense of stuff while juggling the task of trying to hide this stuffed bear from Vanessa, the girl who he definitely got a crush on within moments at this new school. He runs off to miss the bus and stare down the pack of bully-brothers who beat him down at the playground, and somehow manages to make it back to his new house. There, he holes himself up in his room with his sister where he discovers if he presses the nose of this stuffed bear, it truly does transform into the giant and powerful Herobear!
The issue also provides a brand new back-up short story from the P.O.V. of the butler, and the history of a certain villain.
Art wise on issue #2, if you love Kunkel’s style which seems half comic/half cartoon story board, you’re gonna get a lot of things you’ll like to look at in these pages. The look works, and the layout rolls across the pages in several spots almost as if watching a piece of animation. For those who are not fans of his style, there are still plenty of nice moments to look at here as Kunkel is not just punching the clock drawing, but trying to be truly creative with some of these page layouts. The first two pages are a giant splash across both that creates this montage effect to encapsulate and catch up new readers on everything that happened last issue, providing not just a jumping on point if you missed issue #1, but the nicest looking catch-up page in the past…well ever in comics! We also get these great dynamic moments, split panels of Tyler’s reality with Vanessa while talking to her played against his fantasy world, the page where he is being chased by bullies and it turns into a maze of who zig-zags where in the chase, and more are packed into the issue’s artwork.
Writing wise, it’s Kunkel, if you’ve read this before or anything he has done, it’s just him. I know he doesn’t have this enormous pile of work, but in everything he has written his voice is very clear as a storyteller. Always twinging on our senses as a melancholy vibe hangs over our characters, like an Amblin or Pixar film, while interjecting moments of laugh-out-loud humor packed between the more serious panels. When combined with his art style, it’s why he received the praise he did, and very deservedly so still does. It is meaningful, and for as slow as the story seems to be progressing, it was all necessary set up between this and the first issue for something huge that is about to take off at comet-pace in the next.
Although a reprint mainly, Herobear and the Kid is the strongest all-ages title out this year in print. Yes, there is a ton of great all-ages comics out on the shelves these days, however, just like ten years ago, Herobear and the Kid still proves it has something charming enough to be not just above and beyond the other all-age comics titles, but any title out there on the stands.
Available in print and digital from Boom!
That’s it for this week, see you next!