Friday, August 23, 2013

Review - Hero Bear and the Kid #1 - The Inheritance

"...he appeared."

Calvin had Hobbes. Ren had Stimpy. Pinky had the Brain. And Tyler has Hero Bear? That's right kids. The classic tale from way back when is being revisited by KaBOOM! in Hero Bear and the Kid #1 - The Inheritance.

The issue is written and illustrated by Mike Kunkel.

After his grandfather passes away, 10-year-old Tyler inherits an old stuffed toy bear and a broken pocket watch. If dealing with bullies wasn't enough, he soon learns that things aren't always what they seem...and that you shouldn't judge a bear by its cover. Join Tyler as he goes on his amazing childhood adventure and learns the truth about his family.

Death in the family is never easy for anyone to handle, but it does have a profound way of changing the life of the survivors. This is a sense that Kunkel taps into extremely well, offering up a world for Tyler that's void of his grandfather and replaced by the aforementioned bear and pocket watch. What sets the work apart though is how often the pendulum swings between somber emotions and more lighthearted hijinks. The wake serves as a precursor to the surreality of Tyler going to school and dealing with bullies. He suffers a beating at their hands, the severity of which is exacerbated by the reader knowing that Tyler has already lost a family member.

A somber story works best with equally somber art and Kunkel draws heavily on blacks and whites. Artwork is primarily sketches, with heavy outlines littering the pages. His work is influenced by a cartoon animation style and it really helps the characters showcase the emotion on the page that much better. Color makes an appearance towards the end as a means of introducing a new character, one who demands the full attention of the reader. It's a truly effective art style that eschews typical panel layouts in the interest of offering readers a better view of the story.

Hero Bear and the Kid #1 - The Inheritance is a book that has an appeal to all ages. For adults, it taps into a nostalgic remembrance of days past, experiencing the seasons and dealing with loss. It offers kids something to relate to in that it shows the trials and tribulations of being a kid: dealing with bullies and the embarrassment of caring parents. Where the two coincide is an intersection of love and hope, both emotions showcased quite beautifully in Kunkel's writing and art styles. It's a great book that is a really fun read.

Hero Bear and the Kid #1 - The Inheritance is available now with interiors below.


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