Mike Kunkel’s (writer and illustrator) charming Herobear and the Kid series is launching a new 5-part storyline called Saving Time and, while this arc builds upon the pretty hefty backstory of Herobear and Tyler’s previous adventures, it wasn’t too tough to get brought up to speed about the various character relationships and significances. We are relatively new to Herobear and the Kid and, quite frankly, I found the history upon which Saving Time is based to be a lot more nuanced and complex than I originally thought. I thought Herobear and the Kid would be a more superhero-oriented sort of Calvin and Hobbes; a story about a boy going off and having pretend adventures with his stuffed polar bear. I was NOT expecting a Rise of the Guardians-style genealogy mixed with a few touches of Batman. Add in a menacing villain with dopey sidekicks and some potential time travel opportunities and I can tell these 5 issues are going to be a wild ride.
Big D found the start of the story “a little boring and confusing” since it has been a while since she has read any of this series. Once she got past the exposition, Big D frantically added “I REALLY want to know what happens!” She said that a few times, actually. She also said that she wants to go back and read all the Herobear prior to Saving Time so that the story setting makes more sense.
I find this distinction a strength to Kunkel’s Herobear world; the immediate story is set up well while showing readers the depths of any story they might have missed. Saving Time‘s exposition could turn a lot of kids off the book. The fact that this exposition encourages my daughter to read MORE of it is a telling sign.
The level of storytelling, especially the philosophical trope on time covering the first page, might skew towards a slightly older all-ages reader. The bulk of the action is rather wordy and based on past character interactions and relationships which might also turn off younger readers. As an older (ahem) reader, I can say that I’m not so smitten with Herobear and the Kid that I feel compelled to finish the arc and read it myself. As the father of a younger reader, though, I will happily pick up all the issues for Big D.
When asked who would enjoy the book, Big D said “People who like Rise of the Guardians and definitely people who like Superman (because Herobear is similar to Superman).”
Kunkel’s art style is very pencil-heavy (minimal inking, if any, to my eyes). Big D remarked that “It looks hand-drawn by the Kid (Tyler). And he doesn’t use any color but red. I really want to find out what happens!” Clearly Kunkel’s cliffhanger worked!