cover image War Bears

War Bears

Margaret Atwood and Ken Steacy. Dark Horse, $19.99 (104p) ISBN 978-1-5067-0898-0

Despite a powerhouse creator team, this boisterously drawn tale of a WWII-era Canadian comic artist by Atwood (Handmaid’s Tale) and Steacy (Astro Boy series) falls flat. After landing a job as an illustrator with Canoodle Comics, Alan Zurakowski creates Nazi-fighting animalistic superheroine Oursonette in hopes of inspiring the troops. But the disapproval of his father, the demands made by his publisher, and news about his brother fighting in Europe all take a toll on his mental health. While he turns his struggles into fuel for his pen, Alan discovers that his dedication and creativity may not be enough to keep Oursonette alive when the post-WWII homegrown comics industry faces the popularity of the American market. Steacy’s cartoonish, colorful, stylistic design playfully evokes the 1940s, but it’s not enough to sell the script (though Oursonette’s comic-within-a-comic is good fun), where contrived writing is phoned in with throwaway one-liners and stereotyped characters. It’s a disappointing turn out for the talent; readers would be better off revisiting the real golden-age source material. (Apr.)