History & The Pulps are Featured in War Bears, A Comic Book Review!

21 Sep

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Released Sept 05, 2018

With two incredible Canadian talents, Margaret Atwood and Ken Steacy, get together to create a comic book, the industry better pay attention. Published by Dark Horse ComicsWar Bears offers two well-meaning stories than one; the main narrative sees Alain Zurakowski as a struggling artist in an era where life is a struggle. The early 20th century was tough for many; not only did a world have to deal with and recover from two World Wars, but also the Depression made getting employed tough. In a dog eat dog world of 1943, this young man manages to get a job at a Toronto-based comic book company (not New York, where the action was at) and has to deal with ornery coworkers. One particular individual steals this kid’s ideas, and the conflict may well run deeper in later issues.

Al is a young adult whose passion for comic books is clearly in wanting to make a timeless hero. Enter Oursonette, a francophone warrior with the strength of Wonder Woman and patriotism of Captain America wrapped into one. She’s Canada’s symbol of freedom. She fights for the allies and everyone loves her. This tale is short, newspaper strip length, and I am left wondering if more adventures are planned? I miss this style of pulp storytelling. Atwood nicely brings to life that feeling of a radio drama in an illustrated format, and Steacy delivers all the charm. This character is cute as a button, and I’m sure she’d give other period heroes other than Alpha Flight (Marvel Comics) a run for the money. Captain Canuk exists in his own unique universe, and it would not be fair to compare her to him. Her abilities come from after being bit by a bear, and her origins have an Aboriginal back history to it.

Image result for warbears comic

The First Nations people never got a fair shake at any moment in time. Since this hero’s companions are not named after their Latin cousins, Ursula Major and Minor, perhaps a story about their past can unfold in this universe within a universe. To see these bears riding a rocket alongside their leader is amusing. Stacey delivers two deliciously distinct styles in between the two works, and this detail only showcases this talent. He can draw anything!

With this series, the gosh jolly feel of the era and attitudes are definitely at the forefront than Canadiana. The tale about Al and his desire to be as famous as Stan Lee might be harder to cover; what’s been said about the state of the comic book industry, small press or large can easily be covered with an issue or two. Both stories have caught my interest, and I hope further drama and new adventures will be developed beyond this three-issue series. To deal with all the problems faced by many a publisher, including the censorship board with violence in comic books, is another chapter in itself.

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