The war is finally over, and Al Zura’s life changes forever. Is this the end of Oursonette?

War Bears #3 ReviewWAR BEARS #3

Writer: Margaret Atwood
Artist: Ken Steacy
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: December 12, 2018

Previously in War Bears: During the height of WWII, young Al Zura manages to land the job of his dreams at Canoodle Comics. He creates the best-selling title, “Oursonette,” a true heroine of the north, a francophone shape-shifter who can become a bear. We also get a glimpse into what life during wartime was like for those who stayed behind and tried to keep life going despite hardship and the loss of loved ones. Supplies are scarce and money is tight, but Canoodle Comics tightens their belt and keeps on.

TRULY A LOVE STORY TO THE CANADIAN BLACK-AND-WHITES

I love that War Bears #3 is not just the comic Oursonette, although we see some pages of that in each issue. It really is a story of life in comics during a very specific time and place which I did not know much about. The cast is small, but they touch our hearts. Looking back with today’s eyes, we already know where the story is headed – or do we?

It opens on May 8, 1945, Victory in Europe Day. Just about everyone is unbelievably happy – we who have not lived through something like this can’t really understand. Al is not one of them. There’s confetti and ticker tape everywhere, and he grouses about hoarders. When he joins Mike and Gloria at the diner, Mike is eating a huge burger. Now that rationing will be over, there will be meat again! Even Gloria is dreaming of roast lamb. Al, however, is focused on his own life – in six months, the embargo on American comics will be gone, and the all-color comics will flood the market and push out the black-and-whites. His life, his comics, Oursonette will all be gone. Gloria is more optimistic – he’s an artist; there will be jobs in advertising. He’s got skill. He’ll survive.

Back at the office, Al wonders what to do with the pages of stuff they have in the closet, such as Oursonette. Gloria orders him to tear them up. They’re not worth storing, and she doesn’t want anyone else to reprint them. Al does so, but he does keep some pages.

A while later, Gloria comes into the office one day with a couple announcements. She has signed a deal with Triple B Advertising to buy Canoodle Comics – now Canoodle Features. She is also marrying Troy, one of the partners of Triple B. Al is a little confused – he thought Mike and Gloria were a thing all this time. But no, she tells him, he was a lot of fun to hang out with, but he’s a confirmed bachelor. Al is a little slow on the uptake – Mike is queer. There’s a nice scene right after this when Al talks to Mike, and we get a sense of how poignant it was for guys like Mike in those days, when everything had to be so hidden. And I’m glad he and Al were still friends.

The Oursonette story in this issue is about the detonation of the atomic bomb, and the choice humans would have to make – how were they going to use this dreadful power that they harnessed? Would they use it for destruction, or use atomic energy for peace? This is the farewell issue for Oursonette.

But the story is not over yet. It picks up again in 2009 where a much older, but still skinny, Al Zura is talking to someone on the phone about the Shuster Awards. (The Joe Shuster Awards are comic book industry awards that recognize the achievements of Canadians.) Al digs through his closet and finds a portfolio of Oursonette pages.

At the ceremony, Oursonette is introduced by a young lady (Alexis Vadebonceur) who has a graphic novel of her own, but it turns out the Gloria was her grandmother. One day she found a box of Gloria’s stuff in the attic, including issues of Oursonette, which inspired her as it did so many others. And, with that, Al Zura is inducted into the Hall of Fame. Not only that, but Mike accompanied him, and Al dedicates his award to Mike. It is a lovely ending for a story that is rather bittersweet, but it is so fitting.

A BEAUTIFUL FAREWELL

The art of War Bears #3 is just perfect for the story. Everyone is so expressive – at the outset you can feel the excitement and joy bursting out of nearly everyone. Even the small joys are palpable – Mike and his burger; Gloria and her sugar (in her coffee) and her cigarettes.

Again, the fashion is pitch-perfect for the times. I kind of love seeing all the different things Gloria wears – from more practical work clothes, to being all dolled-up. When she makes her big announcement, she’s wearing a red and gold outfit that’s quite distinctive. In fact, we can see that it is the inspiration for Oursonette’s costume, and we remember that Gloria was the inspiration behind Al’s pencils for her.

There’s an absolutely stunning sequence mid-story when Al makes his way up to the roof (and the stars). He looks for the Northern Star and says his good-bye to Oursonette. We see her for a few moments, against the deep blue of the sky, talking to Al, telling him that when she’s needed, she’ll be back. At this moment, he’s having a crisis of faith, unsure that he can face making her last issue, and as she fades away, she urges him to do it – for all their fans and readers. It brought tears to my eyes.

BOTTOM LINE: A WONDERFUL AND SATISFYING STORY

War Bears #3 wraps up this story so beautifully. It tugs on your heartstrings in so many ways, but it leaves us with hope. I like that by telling us a story about the black-and-whites, it does bring them back to life for a time. Even though we see such a small snapshot of the lives of the characters, they feel very much alive.

War Bears #3

100%
100%
Wonderful and Satisfying

War Bears #3 wraps up this story so beautifully. It tugs on your heartstrings in so many ways, but it leaves us with hope. I like that by telling us a story about the black-and-whites, it does bring them back to life for a time. Even though we see such a small snapshot of the lives of the characters, they feel very much alive.

  • Writing
    10
  • Art
    10
  • Coloring
    10
  • User Ratings (0 Votes)
    0
Share.

About Author

By day, she’s a mild-mannered bureaucrat and Ms. Know-It-All. By night, she’s a dance teacher and RPG player (although admittedly not on the same nights). On the weekends, she may be found judging Magic, playing Guild Wars 2 (badly), or following other creative pursuits. Holy Lack of Copious Free Time, Batman! While she’s always wished she had teleportation as her superpower, she suspects that super-speed would be much more practical because then she’d have time to finish up those steampunk costumes she’s also working on.

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.