Into the mouth of the bear

Publisher: Image/Skybound
Writer/Artist: Tri Vuong
Colorist: Annalisa Leoni
Letterer: Rus Wooton

Since my previous review I have read up more on Ninjago lore. Well, I read several Ninjago books to my four year old nephew. The character encyclopaedia is a heck of a thing and my mother was very confused by the lengths a company that sells plastic bricks will go to in order to sell mini figures. However, whilst I am not a master of Spinjitsu I do have a deeper appreciation of the elements and also dragons (build time is long but satisfying). So with that in mind I approach the second issue of Garmadon feeling I can at least ponder if there will be a village Lego set tie in.

If there’s not a village Lego set the I demand a Lego Garmadon fights bears set. For most of this issue is Garmadon fighting bears. You might think that sounds boring. Let me assure you these are some of the best protagonist fights bear scenes you will ever read. There’s twists, action, humour, and bears of various sizes and power. The art is dynamic and just the way Garmadon is very up for a bear battle is just great.

Away from bear battles there is other plot going on. After all the village has promised Garmadon their powerful lily derived power tea for taking on the bears. Except that the tea usually goes the Red Crows who may not be happy that their bounty has been promised to someone else. I sense some upcoming plot there. I did like how this harks back to the end of the last issue and links things in.

Something that also harks back to the last issue is the mysterious doppelganger whom Garmadon confronted. Here we find out that this dark figure is Garmadon. Kinda. HIs dark side powers if you will. I sense another running plot point. I find that metaphysical twist interesting and it fits really well with how Ninjago, a concept full of magic and mystery, works. It also adds an interesting layer of drama to the ongoing saga of Garmadon whose allegiances of bad guy and good guy have changed and altered him. Indeed right down to the level of his soul.

There’s also a nice dream flashback a to how Garmadon ended up with Master Wu’s hat. That was bugging me last issue but excellent flashback to the rescue. As someone with a very rudimentary knowledge of Ninjago it’s nice that this is aimed all levels of knowledge. From those who can perform a Spinjitsu with their eyes closed to those who wonder why anyone has combined the word spin with jujitsu. It’s very much an all ages book.

That also carries cross to the art. The style is child friendly (and the Lego really well realised). The action feels almost animation-like, reflecting the fact that there is a Ninjago show (14 seasons and counting!) which most of the younger fans are probably very familiar (and probably a few of the older ones too). It makes it feel part of that narrative whilst also giving a new spin on the Ninjago universe. At the same time there are some great panels that work so well as just comic art panels such as the very fort large panel of Garmadon sitting surrounded by swords contemplating the landscape.

I also really appreciate the humour that is again reminiscent of the show. Garmadon is an excellent protagonist because he has this over confidence in his abilities and his villain like mwahaha pronouncements. There’s a huge mileage of humour to be had out of that alone. The light moments mean that the drama never gets too overly heavy. The tone really worked for me as an adult reader but I can imagine it also work really well for younger readers too.

Overall this was a really fun second issue. There was plot, action and bears. Honestly the best bear fight you will see in a comic this year. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

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