Written by Pat Mills and John Wagner
Art by Ramon Sola and Juan Arancio
2000 AD, out now
A polar bear eats a vital secret capsule – and resists all efforts to let it be removed…
How can anyone resist the tagline “The Only Bear on the CIA Death List!”? This tale from the early days of 2000 AD – progs 20-35 and the 1978 annual – is a great example of how the magazine was different from the normal fare out at the time. It’s vicious and violent – the addition of the red blood on the cover oddly makes it less nasty than the monochrome original – and gripping.
It does go on a little too long but gives us the delight of a bear trying the door of a sheriff’s office to see what’s going on, then eating lipstick before devouring some humans! We also meet Nurse Hatchett (any resemblance to a certain asylum nurse is presumably intentional) and a group of Russians who are also after Shako…
Virtually every chapter promises that Shako must die at the hands of someone or other, to the extent that by midway through you’re rooting for the bear – and when you read the prequel story, you start to understand Shako even more.
Verdict: Apart from one young Eskimo, there are very few sympathetic human characters in this dark tale but that makes their deaths rather more palatable. 7/10