A few years ago, in the pre-pandemic times, I was watching hockey at a friend’s house when one of the books in his comic stack caught my eye: Shirtless Bear-Fighter! by Jody Lehup, Sebastian Girner, Nill Vendrell, and Mike Spicer.
The cover depicts a shirtless man in raggedy pants with exaggerated masculine features (seriously, his feet are huge, and so is his beard). I paged through and saw that this was, yes indeed, a comic about a man who fights bears while decidedly not wearing any clothes (his junk is pixelated, though, so no need to worry about your puny senses being overwhelmed by his manliness). What an odd delight!
I’ve been feeling kinda down lately and wanted a pick-me-up, so: Enter, once again, Shirtless Bear-Fighter!. This book is a little difficult to review because it’s, well… You’ll see what I mean. My reviews do contain affiliate links to Bookshop.org, an online bookstore that financially supports local independent bookstores.
The Book Witch’s One Sentence Review
Shirtless Bear-Fighter is an absolutely hilarious, utterly delightful comic that skewers masculine tropes by rocketing them past the point of no return and stripping them of all power through the healing nature of comedy.
The Story of Shirtless
Shirtless Bear-Fighter tells the story of a man named Shirtless, who was raised by bears in a lush mountain forest. The bears betrayed him when they killed his lover, and after that he vowed to fight every bear.
Now, enraged bears are attacking major cities across the US, and the FBI calls in Shirtless to handle the problem. In the process he discovers that past events weren’t what they seemed and uncovers a plot by a greedy toilet-paper-company logger to turn the whole forest into TP.
Along the way Shirtless has to deal with multiple betrayals, bears high on magic bacon, and the fact that he probably definitely has a thing for Silva, the female FBI agent.
The creative team (Jody Leheup, Sebastian Girner, Nil Vendrell, and Mike Spicer) do not take anything seriously. Shirtless is a hyperbole of our culture’s idea of what men should be, and that’s exactly what gets him into trouble.
The issue of Shirtless’s dead lover reveals the cavalier way men treat women and highlights exactly why that is terrible and we should maybe stop doing that right now. Silva is not hyper-sexualized and proves herself to be smart and resourceful. Without her, Shirtless would fail his mission to save the forest.
So, here’s a comic that takes the most exaggerated masculine tropes and handles them in a subtle, brilliant, hilarious way. And even better, it will make you laugh out loud over and over again.
Key Shirtless Bear-Fighter Takeaways
- WHAT IS THIS COMIC I DON’T EVEN KNOW
- BUT IT’S REALLY FUCKING FUNNY
- “Bear” is not limited to the large omnivorous mammal
- There are a lot of toilet paper and poop jokes (WHICH ARE HILARIOUS)
- The whole thing can be read as a fable about environmentalism and toxic masculinity
- ALSO IT’S REALLY FUCKING FUNNY
- Magic bacon.