Deadshirt is Reading: Spider-Man, Shirtless Bear-Fighter, and more!

Deadshirt is Reading… is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt’s staff, contributing writers, and friends-of-the-site offer their thoughts on Big Two cape titles, creator-owned books, webcomics and more.

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Andrew Niemann is reading…

Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #1

Written by Chip Zdarsky
Art by Adam Kubert
Colored by Jordie Bellaire
Marvel Comics

“Did you just compare yourself to Prince?”

Putting Chip Zdarsky on a Spider-Man book is a big no-brainer considering his take on the popular character in his Howard the Duck run was pretty universally beloved even if it was mostly parody. I just wish it was the main series, since Dan Slott continues a nearly decade-long run which hasn’t turned up anything memorable aside from a few shake-ups. However, I will take a concurrent series that doesn’t necessarily have to follow the track of the Marvel Universe and all its foibles. Zdarsky knows this too, and he’s basically here to have fun. Thankfully, I’m having fun as well.

The inaugural issue of Spectacular has Spidey chumming with Johnny Storm, which is cool since we don’t see the Fantastic Four much anymore and this also tells us this will mainly be a team-up book. Later, Spidey stops a burglary with Ant-Man and eventually makes his way to a superhero repair shop run by The Tinkerer’s good brother and Uatu Jackson. He even scores a date! It’s a pretty laid-back issue focusing less on the action and more on Zdarsky’s top-notch humor. There’s a great bit where Peter makes movie plans with Johnny and then stands him up later in the book, much to Johnny’s chagrin. Zdarsky has an impressive level of comic timing that doesn’t go overboard in taking up panel space. Some of the best jokes actually come from Zdarsky’s little annotations that reference Spider-Man’s history.

Adam Kubert’s kinetic art shines when it shows the wallcrawler swinging from panel to panel, almost coming off the page. The book isn’t perfect, however. For one thing, the price of $6 for the issue is spectacularly high. There’s also a backup story that confused me because I thought it was part of the main story, but it isn’t. It’s a standalone story featuring Spidey and Black Widow, but I’m not sure why it’s there. The most intriguing part of this book is probably its ending, which sets up a possible new relation to Peter Parker—although this is a tired comic cliche at this point. Could we possibly get a new Spider-Girl? Overall, I think this is a pretty great jumping on point for Spidey fans old and new, and something fun to read before the upcoming film.

David Lebovitz is reading…

Shirtless Bear-Fighter! #1

Created by Jody Leheup, Sebastian Girner, and Nil Vendrell
Written by Jody Leheup and Sebastian Girner
Art by Nil Vendrell
Colored by Mike Spicer
Lettered by  Dave Lanphear
Covers by Andrew Robinson, Tom Fowler with Nathan Fairbairn, Andy Suriano, and Sanford Greene
Image

“All options are on the table. But you know as well as I do… the President won’t negotiate with bearrorists.”

Sometimes a title tells you everything you need to know.

Shirtless Bear-Fighter is about a flapjack-loving shirtless man quite literally named Shirtless Bear-Fighter, who fights bears to protect the forest. Actually, he’s more than shirtless—he’s buck-ass nude, including a pixilated schlong. The comic demonstrates his bear fighting abilities in gratuitous, over-the-top fashion. The story revolves around the FBI trying to recruit Shirtless to fight a bear that has entered Major City and is terrorizing the populace.

At least once every three pages, the comic introduces something so ludicrous that it’s impossible not to laugh. I don’t want to give much away, because I INSIST you read this comic, but Shirtless’s residence is a log cabin made—against the laws of god and man—entirely out of bear pelts. There’s also an image of Shirtless as a baby with a full beard.

This comic uses a lot of splash pages and can sometimes be sparse on dialogue, and even though my negative feelings on both those things are well documented, it works perfectly here. Who needs dialogue when you have a buck naked mountain man beats the crap out of a bear? The SFX for him punching a bear is the phrase “BEAR PUNCH!” in all red caps. What more do you need?

The idea behind this comic is something a group of college students would come up with at 3 AM. It’s an idea that merits the involvement of Bruce Campbell in some capacity, or at least Danny Trejo. It’s what happens when you mix Sharknado with Captain Underpants. It is a Braun Strowman wrestling match taken to its logical extreme.

This comic is shallow. It is ludicrous. It is absolute nonsense. It also has an actual story, and is maybe the most fun I’ve had reading a comic in months.

Joe Stando is reading…

Lobo/Road Runner #1

Written by Bill Morrison
Art by Kelley Jones and Bill Morrison
Colored by Michelle Madsen and Bill Morrison
Lettered by Rob Leigh and Saida Temofonte
DC Comics

“This deal is getting worse all the time!”

I’m a simple man. I don’t ask for much in this life. When I saw that DC was doing a series of special crossovers between their superheroes and the Looney Tunes, the most I really hoped for was that they’d be forgettable, inoffensive little oddities. I love both concepts on their own, but I wanted to keep my expectations low.

As it turns out, Lobo/Road Runner is the best $5 I’ve spent this week.

The book is a perfect execution of concept. Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote shorts have always been my favorite, owing mostly to their strict rules and distinctive setting. They’re a perfect distillation of the predator-prey roles that drive most Looney Tunes cartoons. Lobo, as an immortal, incorrigible rogue who gets blown up constantly, fits in here like a hand in glove.

The main story is an interesting adaptation of the classic mythos to a DC universe setting. Wile E. is one of a number of ACME lab experiments, super intelligent mutant animals that escaped from a secret Roswell facility. The backstory and Kelley Jones’ art are pretty far removed from the cartoons, but the sense of humor and strangeness feel true to the characters. After years of hilarious failure, Wile E. eventually travels into space to recruit Lobo to defeat his nemesis.

From here we get plenty of classic hijinks, but with Lobo as the schmuck crushed by anvils or hit by trucks. Morrison and Jones deftly bring the necessary comedic timing to the page, and the action is the right blend of Lobo gore and Looney Tunes goof. The story mines history from both ingredients (it’s a safe bet that this is the only story to feature both Kilowog and Sam Sheepdog), but always feels fresh.

The backup, with Morrison on art, flips the dynamic entirely. It’s a cartoon world with cartoon rules, and Lobo has to catch Road Runner for eight pages of direct homage. Giving us a different take on the same concept pays off, and while it’s a story driven more by gags and metahumor than plot, it’s a great complement to his and Jones’ main course.

I came into this book hoping not to roll my eyes too much. I ended up laughing out loud on almost every page. It’s a wild concept, but the creative team behind it was more than up to the task.

Thanks for reading about what we’re reading! We’ll be back next week with a slew of suggestions from across the comics spectrum. In the meantime, what are you reading? Tell us in the comments section, on Twitter or on our Facebook Page!

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