15th Dec2012

‘Bearlands’ Review – Issue #0 & #1

by Phil Wheat

bearlands_issue1

BEARLANDS #0: FIRST EDITION
Writer: Jeremy Biggs | Artist: Bakki | Published by Subversive Comics

Released by Subversive Comics, Bearlands #0 comes from writer Jeremy Biggs, who worked on the Ford Brothers acclaimed zombie flick The Dead, and tells yet another zombie tale – this ones deals with a post-apocalyptic world infested by hordes of zombie bears, and one motorcycle riding, samurai sword wielding, cigar smoking, bears mission to rid the planet of the undead and track down the bear that started it all.

Running at just 12 pages, the preview issue of Bearlands gets straight to the point with a brutal, kinetically-drawn battle between our unnamed protagonist and a handful of zombie bears, who look particularly gruesome for teddy bears. The coolest thing about the entire of Bearlands #0, and the page that sold me on the comic is a single splash page featuring the motorcycle riding, samurai sword wielding, cigar smoking bear pulling up on his bike and shouting “Come on you zombie scumbags!” It looks a lot more bad-ass than I’ve made it out, trust me. And the rest of the comic, thanks to the art of Bakki (whose work you can see on Deviant Art), looks just as good.

With some great, and gruesome, scenes of decomposing zombie bears eating on the flesh of their own kind and a real sense of movement and vibrancy to the action this was a must-buy for me. Bearlands #0 is a preview to (hopefully) an ongoing series and if it’s anything like this preview book then you can call me a regular reader!

BEARLANDS #1: LEFT 4 TED
Writer: Jeremy Biggs | Artist: Bakki | Published by Subversive Comics

It was by complete chance that I stumbled across Bearlands #0 at the MCM Expo in 2011, I was perusing the comic area and was drawn to the Subversive Comics table by an awesome image of a zombie-slaying bear laid out in a comic on the table in front of me. After all, who doesn’t love a bad-ass teddy bear – especially one that kills zombie bears?

Well now the guys at Subversive Comics have followed up their fantastic (and now sold out) 12-page preview issue of Bearlands with the first full 24 page comic that continues the adventures of the motorcycle riding, samurai sword wielding, cigar smoking bear as he treks the globe killing undead hordes in his quest to uncover the truth about the zombear outbreak.

Here’s the official synopsis for the first issue:

“After days on the road, running low on supplies and haunted by memories of his past, sleep deprivation finally catches up with Our Hero. Realising that there is no safe place in the open he is forced to take shelter in a makeshift fort ruled by a devious leader known only as the “Father”. Will Our Hero be able to escape the clutches of the Machiavellian “Father”? And will he be able to continue his quest to find the bear responsible for the Zombear Apocalypse?”

Sound familiar? With shades of The Walking Dead, I Am Legend and even George Romero’s Land of the Dead, Bearlands #1 once again mixes the cute and cuddly with the diseased and deadly. Building on the preview issue, this book takes us fur-ther (geddit?) into the post-apocalyptic life of our Hero, delving a little more into his psyche through an intriguing dream-come-flashback. It also introduces us to more uninfected bears, including a bad-ass sniper (I love me some snipers), holed-up in a fortress under the auspices of maniacal “The Father”, who seems very much influenced by The Walking Dead‘s The Governor… And that’s the thing with Bearlands #1, it’s packed with sly references to other movies, be they zombie or not – which for a movie fan is all the more exciting.

Like Bearlands #0, the artwork by Thai artist Bakki manages to make even a cute and cuddly teddy bear looks gruesome and grotesque in its zombie state. It’s this fascinatingly gruesome artwork that makes Bearlands stand out amongst a seas of indie horror comics – plus the fact that despite the dark subject matter this is one of the most colourful and vibrant horror comics available right now! It’s the great balance of light and dark, both in the artwork and in the writing (for a horror comic this is also one very funny book) that will undoubtedly keep me hooked on this series for as long as it’s produced.

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For more information on Bearlands, check out the official website at Subversive Comics.

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