Overview

Lions, Tigers, and Bears, Vol. 2 #1

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Lions, Tigers, and Bears, Vol. 2 #1

Credits

  • Words: Mike Bullock
  • Art: Jack Lawrence
  • Inks: Jack Lawrence
  • Colors: Jack Lawrence
  • Story Title: N/A
  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Apr 5, 2006

War comes to the Stuffed Animal Kingdom! King Bear and the Crystal Castle fall to the Beasties and once again Joey, Courtney, and the Night Pride must go into battle.

The first volume of this series explored the struggles of childhood and the power of imagination and now that story continues. The young protagonists are facing darkness, physical, emotional, and mental, which colors their world and ours.

In the time since Joey and Courtney’s previous adventures the two have become good friends. So much so that Courtney confides in Joey her fears about taking over for her father one day and continuing to create the heroic stuffed animals that protect children everywhere. As Joey tries to understand Courtney’s fears they are both exposed to some new ones...The Night Pride arrives to say the evil Lord Valthraax has taken the Crystal Castle, imprisoned King Bear, and spread the other stuffed animal heroes thin trying to defend the gates to children’s bedrooms. Now this intrepid little group must once again fight these forces of evil, but the Beasties have a nasty plan to see Joey, Courtney, and the Night Pride lost forever!

Mike Bullock’s return to the Stuffed Animal Kingdom could not be welcomer. The sweet, thrilling, funny, and touching writing he did with the first series is clearly in evidence here right from the start. Additionally, he has a gift for distilling the complex nature of evil into its most basic form so that even the youngest reader (or listener) can understand it. In the process, however, he never talks down to the audience or allows the concepts to become simplistic.

Joey and Courtney also come across as just ‘regular kids’, something that is not always easy for writers to accomplish. The little duo have just enough sass and mischief to keep them from being unbelievably sweet but not so much as to make them brats. I imagine it is easy for readers of all ages to see bits of themselves or children they know in Joey and Courtney.

Unlike a number of sequels, Bullock does not recycle his concepts from the previous series. Whereas before the story dealt with the struggles of moving, the nature of friendships, and the power of imagination, here he introduces a new round of fears and difficulties that, sooner or later, all children face. I particularly loved that Valthraax (mentioned in the first series but never seen) here appears as a rather dapper dressed spider. Also, the way "The Dark" is used in the story is inspired.

Returning to this title as well is the wonderful art of Jack Lawrence. His kinetic style really makes the reader feel like he or she is watching a well-animated cartoon. There is action and vibrancy and the panels smoothly flow one into the next. His designs on Joey and Courtney are also, underneath the cartoony style, real children.

Lawrence’s talent with the pencil might actually be eclipsed by his skill with the coloring for this series, though. The bright hues help the artwork pop off the page and give it depth. Even the darker shadings never become murky or pitch black. In particular, the color change effected to the Crystal Castle as the Beasties attack says as much as any line of dialogue.

An ‘all ages’ comic is supposed to do exactly that – appeal to readers of all ages and none succeed better than this title. Even for those little ones who have not yet learned to read, this title makes for a perfect bedtime story to be read aloud and shared. Lions, Tigers, and Bears is a joy for ‘children’ of all ages.

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