One Punch Reviews #61: Bearmageddon
Ethan Nicolle made his mark on webcomics with Axe Cop. This much celebrated comic proved that if you added stellar illustrations to a six-year-old kid’s rambling storytelling, you come up with something that’s pretty magical. We all knew though, that it was destined to end. Little Malachai would soon become self aware or tired, and you can only hang on the adventures spouted by a kid for so long vefore it no longer becomes cute.
Fortunately, Ethan decided to follow up his initial effort with a story from his own creation: Bearmageddon. Now, I know what your thinking: between the title and the webcomic’s header image of bears with different animal forms (which looks like a kickin’ rad album cover for a 70’s metal band). You’re saying, “Man, El Santo, not another webcomic with random humor!”
This webcomic does rely on goofy nonsequiturs like an octopus bear. But, thus far, you know what this comic reminds me of? Animal attack movies like Anaconda or Lake Placid. And that is not a bad thing.
We start our story with Joel, an employee of mega-superstore chain Wow Mart. His life, as is typical of young people in their early twenties, is not a very charmed one. He’s hassled by his boss for having ugly facial hair. He lives with his dad. Perhaps not for long, though, because, after failing to pay the rent, his dad has boxed up all of his belongings in an attempt to try to force his son to become self reliant. I believe that nowadays we call these things “First World Problems.”
Joel’s friend, Nigel, proposes a new, low carbon footprint life inspired by a DVD called Into The Woods. It’s about a guy who “ditches college and runs off to live in the woods with nature.” Joel and his friends are inspired. Before they know it, they’re piling into Nigel’s (very dangerous) hippie van and off to live a life free of the cares and worries of modern life. Nigel, though, hasn’t been 100% upfront with them. It turns out that he needed them to chain themselves up to the trees so they can protest “greedy logging companies.” Joel’s about to complain, but then he meets an attractive girl there, then it’s all about chains and locks and saving the spotted gray tailed loon.
And then the bears attack.
And this is where the comic turns into a straight up animal attack comic. (Wait… do any others exist?) This thing could be adapted into a SyFy Original Movie. It’s straight up about trying not to get eaten and flinging nasty things into the bears’ faces. It doesn’t go off the rails into random kookiness that we’re conditioned into thinking a “Bear Attack!” comic should be. Even when we’re introduced to a hulking, bear-killing woodsman, things aren’t as “random” as they could’ve been. After all, what’s so bizarre about a survivalist who has keen knowledge on hunting wild animals?
I think one of the things that anchors Bearmageddon nicely is that Mr. Nicolle seems to genuinely care about fleshing out his characters. It’s kinda nice when you can stick a guy with a line like, “If some guy bombs a school bus full of kids to keep you from getting run over, do you let him get away with it?” and you’re nodding your head and thinking, “Yes, that is exactly something he would say, isn’t it?” Plus there’s Ethan Nicolle’s art, which is always a treat. Bearmageddon may yet go into random acts of mindless absurdity, but as of now the story is pretty solid and actually makes sense… or as much sense as a webcomic with an octopus bear in its opening scenes can be.
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5).