Writer/Artist: Mike Kunkel
Publisher: Astonish Comics
The book opens with Tyler trying to keep Henry, the family butler from seeing Herobear, but when Henry greets Herobear by name Tyler comes to realize that HeroBear & Henry have met before. We then see Henry decides the time has come to let young Tyler in on a very big secret, and with Herobear's help Henry lets Tyler know who his grandfather was, and why he created Herobear. With this revelation Tyler is also given a sneak preview of his future, as he's destined to follow in his grandfather's footsteps, and become a very important figure in the world. As Tyler is busy trying to digest this new information, he is given another gift from his grandfather, but when the gift ends up being an empty box Tyler isn't amused. We then join Tyler at school the next day when he learns the robot X-5 has been reactivated, and the situation demands the attentions of Herobear and the Kid. We also see that Tyler has come up with a plan for defeating X-5, and when Tyler's clever plan is a complete success, this in turn inspires him to reopen the empty box. However this time the box allows him to visit his late grandfather, where he learns everything he's been told is the truth.
This issue reveals the big mystery of who Tyler's grandfather was, and we also learn a bit about Herobear's creation. On one hand it is nice to see Mike Kunkel had a big reveal moment that he was looking for, and I'm sure that if I go back over the previous issues I'll see get various clues about the grandfather's identity. On the other hand however, I do feel that this surprise was revealed a bit too early in the game, and while the fairly lengthy wait between issues made the wait for answers a bit cumbersome, the simple fact of the matter is that a large degree of this book's charm was the idea that Tyler had no idea what he was involved in beyond the fact that his grandfather had given him a stuffed bear that turning into a life-sized talking/flying polar bear, and a pocket watch that lets him know if something's good or bad. Now even looking at these two items I'm surprised I didn't catch onto the man's identity sooner, but now that I know it, I must confess the book doesn't seem quite as interesting. Now I'll still eagerly await the next issue, and it remains one of my favorite titles, but by the end of this issue what we learn about Tyler & his grandfather takes away some of the "every kid" quality this book had going for itself.
The book also gets a bit overly caught up in the whole "belief" angle its trying to get across, as while the little exchange on the opening page nicely encapsulates the whole idea, when text boxes make their return later in this issue I found myself a bit surprised that Mike Kunkel felt the need to belabor the point he was trying to make. I mean, it's a nice message, and it's well presented, but a great deal of this book's appeal comes from the fact that Mike Kunkel presents Tyler as a regular kid, but the narration that Tyler's given in this issue reads more like a writer trying to express an idea that is a bit beyond the years of the average kid. On the other hand there are moments when Mike Kunkel's presentation of Tyler is absolutely perfect, as I just adored his immediate reaction after his grandfather's identity is revealed, and the scene between Tyler and his grandfather is a very sweet moment, that nicely captures the importance of the information that Tyler has learned in this issue. There's also a nice little rematch with the robot X-5, as we see this time Tyler has come up with a plan to defeat the robot, and one has to love the childlike simplicity of this cunning maneuver, and the idea that the mastermind super-villain never noticed this glaring flaw in his robot.
Mike Kunkel's art is one of the main reasons I sought this book out after I spotted the article about the book in an issue of "Wizard: The Comics Magazine", and I still can't get enough of this style, as it has a sense of youthful exuberance to it that is perfect for the delivery of its subject. The art conveys a childlike logic & simplicity of seeing the world, as we see Tyler attempts to convince Henry that he hasn't seen Herobear, or his annoyance when he finds himself cut out of the loop as Herobear and Henry begin to discuss old times. I also loved the page where Tyler reacts after his grandfather's identity is revealed, and the expression on his face when he discovers they aren't joking. There's also the page where he opens the present to find it empty, the dream sequence where he's introduced to the rest of his extended family, and the sequence where Tyler finally gets to meet his grandfather. In fact this last scene makes great use of this book's rather unique use of color, as it neatly plays up the connection that Herobear has with Tyler's grandfather. The battle that Herobear and the Kid have with X-5 is also a impressive bit of art, with the double-page shot of Tyler's plan being pulled off being the highlight.
This issue is the big finish to this book's opening arc, and as such there's a sense of closure to this issue, that would have left me unsettled if not for the letter page's promise that we would be seeing more Herobear and the Kid adventures in the future. Still, this issue does provide some answers to the mystery that have been driving this book since issue one, as we learn who Tyler's grandfather was, and why Tyler was given Herobear. Now to be honest the answer is a bit too revealing, as getting this information has removed the mystery, and sense of discovery that this book had going for it when the identity Tyler's grandfather was unknown. There's also a very real sense that thanks to his newly revealed importance in the grand scheme of things, Tyler isn't quite the same little awkward kid, whose biggest worries mirrored those of the average kid. In other words, this issue makes Tyler into something quite special, when a great deal of this book's charm came from the idea that Tyler was an ordinary kid who had been given something quite extraordinary.
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