Published on January 21st, 2013 | by Rich McAuliffe1
This review comes courtesy of Rich McAuliffe, who spends most of his time drinking beer and talking about how hot his wife is, the rest of the time he runs the ECBT2000AD blog where you can find a whole host of 2000AD Arsom-ness.
Been sat on this one for a while but as it’s all gone a bit Snowmageddon it seemed like a good time for me to get stuck into this collected edition of Shako… the only bear on the CIA Death List!
Originally printed back in 1977 this collects the entire run from progs 20-35 and also the one shot prequel featured in the 1978 annual. The story? Well… ok… the CIA have this cannister containing a virus that is SO deadly, any country that holds it could theoretically take over the world. So, in order to protect it they fly it on a plane over the arctic circle but obviously keep it securily protected in a lead lined box within the… oh, sorry, they tape the cannister to the planes wing. The plane crashes, the cannister falls off and a passing polar bear eats it. The CIA then have to capture the bear without damaging the cannister and hilarity ensues.
I’m selling this short actually. It was a hell of a lot of fun but really did require a serious amount of disbelief suspension. All the way through there was a voice in my head going “hannnng onnnn”, but screw it, when the ride is this much fun, logic can get bent. Yeah, they have loads of chances to shoot Shako in the head but dont. Yeah, he seems to go from being 20ft tall to about 6 when the story requires him to climb in a window and hide in a school cupboard. Yeah the little kid he makes friends with (thankfully only for two chapters) would have been bear fodder. Who cares though? It’s a giant killer bear story.
The story rattles along and gives you a nice, violent pay off every single installment and the black and white art throughout is beautiful to look at. I’ll tell you the two things about this I loved the most though…
Firstly is the death scene dialogue which is just brilliant. There’s none of this “AAARGH!!” rubbish here. When these guys get eaten alive by a polar bear they give you a running commentary along the lines of “THE CLAWS!” , “HE’S GRRRRR-INDING MY SKULL!” or in the case of one Italian victim, “OH MAMA! PAPA! HE’S A-GOTTA ‘IS CLAWS IN MA BELLY!”. I know right? How awesome is that?
The other thing is the violence itself. I was being bought 2000AD during this run. I was seven years old. Every week a giant polar bear ripped someone to pieces, buried them alive or just out and out bit their heads off and it was NEVER off panel. And I was the comics target audience! This was always one of the appeals of 2000AD to me as a kid, the fact it gave me that feeling that I was getting away with something. Its watching a horror film through a crack in the living room door when your parents think you are in bed. It was MINE and almost felt like a secret between me and the other kids I knew that read it and I think thats what appealed to me so much and why I developed a lifetime love of the medium. Luckily when I was a kid the average comic reader wasnt 35+ with two kids of their own and a blog or else I’m sure they would have been forced to soften this down due to an outcry of “THIS ISNT SUITABLE FOR MY BABIES!”. But, you know, the same people who were happy to read Tank Girl swearing, ripping her clothes off, getting hammered and fucking a Kangaroo back in the 80s are now losing their minds if Catwoman isn’t a decent role model for their six year old daughter whilst appearing in a book clearly labeled as suitable only for a teen audience or above.
But I digress.
This was a lot of fun and I’d happily recommend it to anyone who just fancies the comic equivalent of a good B movie. Unlike some of the other old reprints I’ve reviewed I only had the fuzziest of memories of this, so I’m happy to say this definitely works without the aid of nostalgia. Not your usual 2000AD fare, feels more like it should be in Tornado or something, but still easy to see why the character is still a fan favourite despite it’s limited and very early run.
Book info :
Writers : Pat Mills, John Wagner
Artists : Ramon Sola, Juan Arancio, Dodderio, Lopez Vera
Cover : Jock
- Paperback: 96 pages
- Publisher: 2000 AD Graphic Novels (6 Dec 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1781080690
- ISBN-13: 978-1781080696