Reviewer: Craig Reade
Stu the Bear hibernates for 12,400 years - a personal best.
Beware of the Art Studio
Publisher: Viper Comics
Stu - well, he's a lazy bear. Bears seem like a lazy sort anyway, but among bears, he is the laziest. So lazy that one summer, he makes a deal with his brother - in exchange for finding some honey, Stu would not be woken up the next year. He would hibernate longer than any bear ever. Unfortunately, while hibernating, an avalanche traps him in ice, where he stays frozen for 12,400 years. When he wakes up, he finds himself in a world where humans have devolved, bears and other animals have become dominant, and the surface of the earth is extremely hostile, thanks to giant bees, radiation, and feral men.
There is a great deal of detail in this story, which really makes it a pleasure to read. Bushell could have just stuck with the silly, and it probably would have worked, but the extra detail made things a lot more enjoyable. It still has the feel of something that could work as a movie (Bushell previously was a screenwriter for Beverly Hills Chihuahua), but the graphic novel format works well in this case. Laziness and productivity are recurring themes in this story. While Stu is the ultimate lazy bear, his brother Al thinks differently. Al envisions a world where bears don't have to hibernate, and after losing his brother in an avalanche makes that idea a reality. The result is a paradigm shift - Al becomes a religious figure that is still worshiped thousands of years in the future for revolutionizing bear society, and lighting the spark that lead to their evolution. Unfortunately, history didn't treat Stu nearly as well. Stu's seen as the anti-bear - the very thing Al was pushing bear-kind away from - to the point where his name is a curse word in the future world Stu finds himself in. Mankind went in the opposite direction, for similar reasons. Our advanced technology made us more and more lazy, and as a result, humans devolved into caveman-like creatures who could only utter the word 'Dude.'
This book is definitely "all-ages," but unlike a few other similar projects from Viper (Battle Smash, for example), this one can not only be read and enjoyed by adults, but there is actually a little something in there for them too. It's got the great "moral lesson" thing in there (don't be lazy!) but it is presented in a way that can be enjoyed even if you don't have any kids. In other words, truly all-ages, instead of just being for kids. And if you do have kids, hopefully they are smart enough to ask why its only the 25th Century if 12,400 years have passed... any excuse to watch Buck Rogers is a good one!
The art style is a little unusual. It is kind of a bled of some of the kids books I have seen, and the style you sometimes see on an Adult Swim show. It isn't raunchy or anything, but it does have that same distinct flavor - like it was drawn by someone with no real art talent, but deliberately so by someone with a great deal of skill. I have no idea if that makes any sense or not, but there it is. The style fit the book's tone and humor perfectly though, so you really don't have to worry about anything there.
Stu the bear was a ton of fun, and certainly delivers a lot of content for the price. I have to recommend this one.
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