Wait, What? Ep. 113: Technically Difficult

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppA page from Shotaro Ishinomori's Kikaider, which we didn't even discuss this week but which I kinda adore, nonetheless...


You may not care.  In fact, you may be relieved but either way, Graeme and I will not be talking one another's ear off this week so there won't be anything for you to listen to from us next week.  Maybe you can get out of the house for a bit?  Go for a walk?  Realize that although it's probably too late to do that "52 books  in 52 weeks" you promised, you can maybe still get in 48 in 48 weeks?

Either way, we are here today, gone tomorrow (by which we mean: next week).

As for that "here today" part--show notes after the jump!

Yeah, we had all kinds of technical problems again...sorry about that.  Maybe one day soon, we will try tech solution Omega...but I'm not looking forward to that too much, to be honest.  I'm hoping we can come up something a little bit better than using an atomic bomb we worship as a god to blow up the planet...

0:00-8:49: Hello! 113 is apparently an unlucky number?  Graeme reports on the bounce houses in the sky, and also a story about a prison break that seems very Beagle Boy-esque. 8:49-27:47: 'Comic news' is a great term because most people would say it's neither.  Nonetheless, we discuss the new column by Bob Harras and Bobbie Chase (which they call B&B, but I sort of wish they'd titled "Two Bobs and a Weave"), the news of writers getting pulled off their books before their first issues are even out, etc., etc. Sadly, we have a dose of  our infuriatingly intermittent tech problems plaguing us a bit during this conversation (that eventually builds to a somewhat hilarious obsession on Jeff's part about whether or not he's rocking in his chair too much, or at all).  Our apologies.  Poor DC--once we're done with that, we grouse about their really bad covers, lately.  Also, Jeff has a metaphor for the New DC that probably reveals a bit too much about his family past, maybe. 27:47-41:17:  And because Marvel doesn't get a free pass (except when they do), we also discuss the upcoming Thanos Rising miniseries and compare/contrast with DC's Birds of Prey debacle.  Also, Jeff tries to start an urban legend where if you look in a mirror and say "Mark Badger, Mark Badger, Mark Badger" three times, a Batman miniseries appears. A discussion of how much "there" needs to be there for a comics news story to be a news story... 41:17-41:38: Intermission (Jaunty)! 41:38-53:30:  Comic books!  Graeme and Jeff discuss New Avengers #2 by Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting; and Jeff talks about how Marvel is creeping him out a little bit. 53:30-1:00:09: Captain America #3!  Graeme isn't reading it; Jeff is, but is somewhat troubled by Cap being less of a Kirbyesque Cap than a Milleresque Cap, and later, while editing the podcast, is a little horrified that this is a complaint he actually made with his face. 1:00:09-1:05:53: Graeme has read the latest issue of Daredevil and then an advance ARC of Paul Pope's The One Trick Rip-Off.  After more techie problems, we decided to jump just a bit early and come back with a different (and more reliable) mic. 1:05:53-1:06:15: Intermission (Jazzy)! 1:06:15-1:08:17:  Round Three!  Graeme has noticed something about the latest Marvel solicitations that suggests they're not reading them especially closely.  He also has good news about Avengers Assemble #14? 1:08:17-1:14:57:  Batman #16 and Batman and Robin #16!  The Death of the Family stuff is just intensely, baroquely fucked up in a way that reminds Jeff of another Batman book that may not be what Scott Snyder and the Bat-team had in mind… 1:14:57-1:23:42:  Issues #5 and #6 of Black Kiss 2!  It's the grand wrap-up of a this mighty odd sequel from Howard Chaykin. 1:23:42-1:42:13:  Questions, finally!   Al Ewing asked: Where do you stand on: 1) Vodka And Coke; 2) Christmas Crackers; 3) Dennis The Menace vs Dennis The Menace And Gnasher; 4) Big sacks with ‘SWAG’ on them vs Big sacks with ‘$’ on them; 5) The ‘aggro style’ UK comics of the late seventies; 6) Hi-style design-heaviness in US superhero work – could the design sensibility of a David Aja or a Johnathan Hickman replace the hem-hem ‘design’ sensibility of bendy spines and porn poses and upskirt angles if we all wish really really hard? 7) Bad Machinery/Girls With Slingshots/Dinosaur Comics 1:42:13-1:56:19: Mo Walker asked: 1). If you could put together an Avengers/Justice League style team comprised of Kirby characters, who would make the cut? 2). What are your thoughts on series 4 of Misfits? 1:56:19-1:59:40: JohnK (UK) asked: 1) A revival of Quality’s BIG BEN – The Man With No Time For Crime by Al Ewing and J Bone – Yes or No? QUICKLY! Yes or No? 2) Biggest Loss to Comics’ archive: ROM, ATARI FORCE or MICRONAUTS(original runs, natch!) 3) Who really owns Marvelman (in less than 10 words)? 4) a) Was “Jimmy Broxton” the artist on KNIGHT & SQUIRE a pseudonym? b)If so, who for? 1:59:40-end:  Closing comments.  Extra apologies.  A notice is made (as it was above) that next week is a skip week and so we will not be around but shall return the week after that.

If all of this sets your glands a-salivatin', then feel free to pull up a stool and being listening now!

Wait, What? Ep. 113: Technically Difficult

As always, we hope you enjoy and thanks for listening!

Wait, What? Ep. 112: A New Dope

PhotobucketWasn't able to find Ditko inking Kirby, but here's Dan Clowes inking Ditko! Ganked from Robot 6 and elsewhere...

Okay, and so but here is our latest episode about which I will provide you with more detail after the jump!

Sorry for the rush, crew:  running a little late (when aren't I?) and haven't quite figured out a way to do the show notes for the Q&A that didn't involve a ton of formatting inside the WordPress entry which is a bit of a headache so pardon me if I just start in, yes?

0:00-3:56: Greetings are exchanged!  Apologies are made!

3:56-13:56: Superior Spider-Man #1!…is a thing we are talking about.  Comic talk so early?  It can happen! Dreams can come true, it can happen to you, if you're young at heart.  Something I didn't think we would complain about?  Superhero fight scenes.  And there may or may not be subliminal messages via distant dog barking, I'm not really allowed to see.

13:56-20:21: Also, through the largesse of a Whatnaut, Jeff was able to read New Avengers #1 by Jonathan Hickman & Steve Epting.

20:21-23:31: All-New X-Men #5!  One of us liked it; one of us didn't.  To say more would give away….The Prestige! (I don't really know what that means, but it was remarkably enjoyable to type.)

23:31-46:39: Answering questions? Will we ever? Maaaaaaaybe, but we decide to talk about other books we read this week: Graeme has read Action Comics #16, as well as the entire run of Batman, Inc.--which Graeme has some really interesting ideas about; Buffy The Vampire Slayer #17; Earth Two #8; Fantastic Four #3 ;and  Iron Man #5.

46:39-47:14: Our sole intermission?  In fact…yes!

47:14-55:32:  On our return, we discuss Star Wars #1 by Brian Wood and Carlos D'Anda.  And, since that series is set immediately after A New Hope, we talk about that movie and what we've liked about that film and where it went afterward.

55:32-1:05:34: As for Jeff, most of what he's read has been digital: Thor #4; six weeks of Shonen Jump Alpha, The Phoenix Comic, and 2000 AD (with enthusiastic run-downs of his favorites in each).

1:05:34-1:10:22:  Then Jeff has a story about being retweeted he thinks is funny. Yes, people: this is why Jeff is terrible. He actually thinks you can tell a funny story…about being retweeted. Far funnier is how quickly and completely Graeme trumps the story.

1:10:22-1:10:30:  And then…questions!  For real, y'all, for real.

1:10:30-1:11:15:  The Dave Clarke Five! (By which I mean, five questions from our pal Dave Clarke.)  Dave Clarke asks:  "Is it fair to say that half the appeal of superhero comics is getting to talk about (and/or bitch about) them with your friends?"

1:11:15-1:14:10: Also, from Dave Clarke:  "Can loyal Whatnauts look forward to more 2000AD discussion in 2013?"

1:14:10-1:15:45:  Dave Clarke! "Would you ever do a crossover episode with House to Astonish?"

1:15:45-1:15:55: DC:  "Which is better: Glamourpuss or Holy Terror?"

1:15:55-1:21:13:  DC Implosion! "Last time you guys did a question episode Jeff promised to describe more things as ‘chill’. Is there anything Jeff has read/seen/tasted lately that he would describe as ‘chill’?"  

1:21:13-1:23:09: Question 1 of 2 from Jer:  "Waffles. Can the concept fly in other parts of the country? Or is it Portland specific for some reason — and why?"

1:23:09-1:34:02:  Question 2 of 2 from Jer:  "I’d like to know what comics media you guys generally consume daily/weekly/monthly (of course, Graeme reads 16 sites by only reading his own stuff, right?). Obv. you read Bleeding Cool at times; what about TCJ online? Etc.?"  [This is one of our classic 'Goofus and Gallant" moments.]

1:34:02-1:38:38: Steve queried: "What surprised you (positively or negatively) in the comics industry in 2012? Any predictions for 2013?(Unless you were planning to cover that sort of thing in your last podcast this year or first one next year anyway.)"

1:38:38-1:40:41:  Colbert said: "Opinions on best inkers for Kirby and Steve Ditko inking Kirby. And… damn. I can’t think of a waffle joke."

1:40:41-1:44:39:  A.L. Baroza asked:  "In light of the Sean Howe book and the brief discussion here a few podcasts back over just what it is that a comics editor does these days, what do you two consider a good or effective example of comics editing for Big Two corporate superhero IP? Keeping in mind that there’s always gonna be a tension between creator ambition, the company need to police and maintain a character’s brand, and a primarily nostalgia-slash-event-driven market. Is it even possible these days to navigate through all the competing demands and end up with something like “art”, or should we just write off the idea of lofty ambition for the genre at this point?"

1:44:39-1:45:06: J_Smitty_ asked: "What do you think of the new Ke$ha record?"

1:45:06-1:51:18:  Jerry Smith asked: "(1) Spider-Man: Ditko or Romita?  (2) Do you buy $4.00 comics? What is the highest price you would pay for a 22-32 page floppy?  (3) Karen Berger as head of creative development at Image Comics. Please consider and comment."

1:51:18-1:55:38:  MBunge asked: "The internet – the future of comic books or comic strips? It seems to me that the web is not really a delivery or economic format that lends itself to producing a blob of words and art once a month/two months/whenever lazy ass pros or guys who have to work real jobs to support their comics hobby can squeeze some work out."

1:55:38-2:03:38:  Mike Walker has a couple of questions: "The “make your own waffle station” at the hotel complimentary breakfast: Good idea or bad idea?  What’s your opinion on Bagels? Are frozen bagels out of the question? Fruity cream cheese or regular cream cheese? Describe your ideal bagel (if there is one.)  What was your most successful “cleanse?” Can we organize a “Wait, What: Cleanse Week?” Because I would like to see the comments after that week. Are you looking forward to a podcast where you aren’t answering questions, possibly sometime in 2014? What was your favorite Dave Clarke question? Least favorite?"


And, lest I forget, here's the link:

Wait, What? Ep. 112: A New Dope

Hope you enjoy; there is more where that came from, coming soon!  Until then, thanks for listening and we hope you enjoy!


He's Still "The Only Bear On The C.I.A. Death List!" COMICS! Sometimes SHAKO! Speaks!

Rejoice fans of quality reviews! For to celebrate the release of the SHAKO! TPB collection I decided not to review it. For a start I won't have any money until Christmas is over. And I'm talking there about the first Christmas after MiracleBoy leaves home in about 2025. No, I decided to do something else instead to celebrate this momentous occasion. What follows is not entirely sane but then again what is, my American friends, what is?!?ShakoPlot, Now, that's exposition! Photobucket

Most importantly of course I decided not to review the SHAKO! TPB as I already reviewed its contents HERE. You will of course remember that vividly because you have nothing else to do but remember badly written old posts on The Savage Critics. So, there didn't seem much point in going over it again but it also seemed a bit shoddy to let the occasion pass uncommemorated. Because as much as I love 2000AD's SHAKO! (and, boy, do I love SHAKO!) I never thought it would be collected. Truly, these are the days.

Your luck was in though as since I am a Savage Critic I, naturally, know loads of people in Comics, or as we gifted insiders call it - The Biz. And using my "juice" I reached out and managed to get the contact details for the star of the book, SHAKO! himself. SHAKO! has kept a low profile since his 2000AD appearance moving into the area of plumbing due to the "perennial" nature of the work and the reliable income it provides for a family oriented bear like SHAKO!. SHAKO! still retains fond memories of his comics work and remained humble and gracious throughout our encounter. Because encounter SHAKO! I did. In fact, as his van was in the garage, I arranged to meet him around the corner from his house at a caff where we both tucked into a full English courtesy of The Savage Critics’ robust expense account. The following conversation ensued:


JK: SHAKO!’s quite an unusual name for a bear isn't it? SHAKO!: No, not really. Although in the strip it claims  “It means simply...KILLER!” or some other such guff. But I'll let you in on a little secret - it’s actually Inuit for Grace Of The Sun’s Soft Fade. Sorry to disillusion everyone there.

JK: Ha! I can see why Mills' went for "...KILLER!" That's more in line with the spirit of the strip. Were you ever bothered by the levels of violence? I mean the audience for this was largely children after all...


SHAKO!: No, no. You can't mollycoddle children. The world is full of things children shouldn't be exposed to but they have a quite unerring radar when it comes to locating them. I mean, sure, it was over the top but it could have been worse. Look, it isn't complicated; do you know the only sure way to stop your kids from finding your jazz mags in the airing cupboard?

JK: Er, no.

SHAKO!: Don't have any jazz mags in your airing cupboard.

JK: Er.

SHAKO!: C'mon, who's going to tell the world it can't have its jazz mags? It just doesn't work like that! So inoculating the little blighters was, I guess, the intention behind all that newsprint nastiness. Of course by jazz mags I mean violence. I'm sorry, I had a late call out last night to bleed a pensioner's radiators. I 'm still a bit tired, not as young as I was y'know. I'm no Spring bear! Could we keep it lighter maybe?

JK: Sure. Sure. You were kidding a bit back there weren't you?

SHAKO!: Yeah, heh. Polar bears love deadpan, what can I say?

JK: I thought so, it's just hard to tell with the snout and the fur and all that.

SHAKO!: That does help with the deadpan. Still, I mean the violence in my strip was nothing compared to that in HOOK JAW. That was like, well, I don't know what that was like! It was off the scale. I'm amazed no one ended up in prison over it. He had a real knack for the violence, I'll give him that. And in real life he was such a sweetie!

JK: You mean Pat Mills?


SHAKO!: I meant Hook Jaw actually but I suppose the same might be said for Pat Mills, yes.

JK: You worked together quite recently didn't you? You and Hook Jaw?

SHAKO!: That’s right! We did indeed. It was just a bit of fluff really, stunt casting overseas under nom de plumes. A bit like when Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing would turn up in some Italian fiasco no-one in England would see for decades. Seabear and Grizzlyshark? I don’t think many people saw it but when you get to our age that’s not so important. Your priorities change as you age and it actually gets to the point where it’s just nice to be asked. I mean at my age my cubs have got cubs of their own so they're too busy to bother with boring old me! Something like Seabear? That's just the ticket, you know? A bit of a lark. Peps the old bones up a bit. Hardly high art, of course, but it was nice to stretch the acting chops again and, of course, Hooky was a riot. No airs or graces with that one! Ho! We kept in touch afterwards. Right up until…

Photobucket (Legal Note: SEABEAR & GRIZZLY SHARK are nothing to do with HOOK JAW or SHAKO! Nor did the creators intend any such inferences to be made. The shark doesn't even have a hook in its jaw. I am just having a spot of fun. Is that still legal? EH!?!)

JK: Yes, I heard you were there when he…went.

SHAKO!: I…yes..it…sorry…

JK: It’s alright, we can move on if you like.

SHAKO!: No…no. I think Hooky would want people to know he was at peace at the end. In fact his spirits were quite high if anything. You know they’d just started reprinting his work in STRIP? People were recognising him again. Staff and kids from the other wards would go see him in the Day Room and ask for his autographs. Oh, he was fair basking in it. It was nice timing as well because a couple of days later…he...it was...

JK: It’s okay. I know this must be difficult for you...


SHAKO!: Yes..but, no, actually in a strange way it was kind of comforting. I’m not really sure what happened to tell the truth. It was Tuesday visiting and I was sat next to his bed and I remember I was telling him about this little cameo I’d made in one of those terrible Event things. One of those art by committee things. Dreadful tat but awfully popular with the youngsters. There were like five writers or something ,and they still got which Pole we bears live at totally arse about tit. Bless his cotton socks, Hooky was trying not to laugh because of the pain; the drugs weren't really touching it by this point. And suddenly, suddenly I realise there’s a man in the room. Seems daft but at first I thought it was a bear. Big fellow he was. And hairy? I’ll say he was hairy, alright! It was his eyes though, his eyes that held you. Great sad things they were. Sad but dignified. Like he’d been hated by the world and forgiven it. And this chap, he puts his hand on Hooky’s dorsal, and it’s a big hand festooned with these big rings, and he puts this big hand on Hooky like a feather landing. And all the tension in Hooky’s body just goes and this fellow says, in this burr, this rumble, he says, and I can remember every word still, he says:

S’alright, Hooky. S’all alright, now. C’mon, me Duck, time to go home. Time to go back where the stories live. It’s just going home, luv. They've all missed you, Hooky. C’mon, son. C’mon now. Gently Bently and off home we go.

And when he lifted his big ringed hand, well, I could tell from how he was laid that Hooky was gone. Well, I mean, obviously he was still there but…

JK: I understand. It sounds very…odd. It sounds like a very…I guess quite a spiritual moment.


SHAKO!: Oh, it was. Of course then I look and this big hairy fellow’s only gone and put shoe polish on his face and now he's chasing nurses down the corridor while making farting noises with his lips.

JK: …!

SHAKO!: Yes, it did take the shine off of things a bit.

JK: Well, er, that sounds like a good place to finish. I thank you for your time and I wish the book every success.

SHAKO!: Oh no, thank you. And I just have to say it’s not about success it’s just...when you're young it's all about the future isn't it? But then you get on a bit and you realise you aren't going to be in the future but you want to have done your bit.

JK: Entertained people?

SHAKO!: Yes. Yes! Maybe more but that'll do. That's no small thing. It's a bit of a magical thing even.

JK: The magic of stories.

SHAKO!: Yes. The lovely, lovely stories. Y'know, for the young.

JK: Thank you, SHAKO! ________________________________________________________

Postscript: Two days later I rang SHAKO! to see if he wanted to give the transcript a once over. The phone was answered by a man who said only “Shako’s with the stories now, luv.” Before the receiver was replaced softly.


This one was for SHAKO! and all the stories, and all the kids that read them.

This one was for all of the COMICS!!!

“…The Only Bear On The C.I.A. Death List!” COMICS! They used to be for Kids, y’know!

So I read a '70s children's comic about a bear.ShakoRun Yeah, I'd stick with the Podcast below too.

While I greatly enjoyed the U.S. Bronze Age I was, and remain, more of a fan of '70s Brit comics. Gonna talk about such a series now. It ain't exactly Howard The Duck, knoworrimean?


(Published by Rebellion, 31 October 2006,£2.99)


SHAKO by Pat Mills(w), John Wagner(w), Ramon Sola(a), Arancio(a), Dodderio and Lopez-Vera

Tharg’s Future Shocks: The Shop That Sold Everything by Grant Morrison(w) and John Stokes(a)

PROJECT OVERKILL by Kelvin Gosnell(w), Ian Gibson(a) and Jesus Redondo(a)

As you can tell from the above 2000AD EXTREME was a UK magazine that reprinted the most Zarjaz Thrills from the past of The Galaxy’s Greatest Comic but today we’ll be all about the SHAKO.

“SHAKO! The Eskimo Word For The Great White Bear. It Means Simply…KILLER!”


In The Artic Circle a plane carrying the C.I.A.’s deadliest weapon crashes and its cargo of viral death is swallowed by the ambling bear men will come to know as SHAKO! A desperate race is on to recover the capsule without destroying it! Civilisation vs Nature! Man vs. Bear! In the land of SHAKO Man’s destiny is DEATH!

  ShakoPlot 1. “It Was The Little One – The One Who Had Played With SHAKO…!”

SHAKO was originally presented during 1977 in thirteen weekly installments of around six pages each.  Every episode basically involved SHAKO meeting a new threat and being hurt by it before overcoming and eating it. The wider narrative involving the hunt for him lingered around the edges. Despite the necessarily formulaic nature and page limitations of the presentation the writers were able to stuff a whole load of goodies in there to keep the kids minds active. What? Oh yeah, this relentlessly brutal and savage tale was printed in a comic sold to children. I read it when I was a kid. Now, it isn’t something I’m proud of but young me really dug the sight of a polar bear washing its paws in a man’s face while the guy screamed stuff like “Oh God! The claws! Its terrible claws are tearing my soft face apart like toilet paper in the rain! The pain! Jesus wept! The pain! He’s eating me alive! Sweet Mercy…..!” ShakoClaws SHAKO is fast paced pulp action so visceral and raw that it seems to have been chucked onto the page. This impression is mostly due to the artwork which is cheap and rushed looking. The best of the artists is Sola(?) who starts the series off with art that balances detail and urgency in just about the right measure. Things get a bit choppy after that with the next best art being that of Dodderio(?) whose work looks like a less talented Young Mike McMahon. As variable and hasty as the art may be it does manage to convey the required vicious urgency. It is also possible that a tale as mind bogglingly violent and unrepentantly trashy as SHAKO doesn’t need art that’s polite or pretty. It doesn’t really matter though as the real treat is the overheated and shrill writing. There’s real art to writing something which is at once as contradictorily awful and awesome as SHAKO appears to my age addled mind. So I’ll be banging on about the writing from here on in. ShakoSudden With hindsight this stuff reads as though the writers really weren’t that keen on kids. Gave us some memorable comics though. In thirty years time I doubt I’ll remember CRIMINAL as vividly as this chaotically charming series. Maybe that’s because things imprint more vividly on fresh minds, maybe, but it’s probably because in thirty years time I’ll be dead. Thanks to my youthful reading though it won’t be at the claws of a polar bear. Nope, I’m not going near any polar bears anytime soon, pal. Because other than maliciously scaring the hot poop out of children SHAKO contained important lessons about misanthropy and the dangers of the natural world; sound preparation for any child. It isn’t healthy that children should be insulated from fear but it is healthy that they should fear the right things; these, on this evidence, being bears and the entirety of humankind.

2. “These Humans Were FUN!” ShakoTowel Humanity in SHAKO is largely presented as being a bunch vile fools who are basically content to prod nature for their own amusement or profit until nature gets suitably miffed and tears off their face to wave in front of their lidless eyes like a bloody hanky. The only exception to this is a child who befriends and saves SHAKO (thus naturally leading to more deaths!). Unk, as he is known, is too innocent and unspoiled by civilisation to fear Shako and so meets him on his own terms and is rewarded by survival. Yes, I know that sounds horrible and preachy, but that’s what happens. If you want me to lie to you money will have to be involved, I have principles you know. Surprising precisely no one (particularly not anyone who has read a Pat Mills comic) the big theme/message of SHAKO is that nature=Good and civilisation=Bad. Now, no one who drives a car wants to hear that, so Mills/Wagner bury it under a thick blanket of inventive violence and research.

3. “Like All Polar Bears He Was Very Curious…” ShakoCurious Yes, Mills and Wagner have done their research. The whole tale is peppered with instances of scientifically verified bear behaviour. Polar Bears do forage in the trash near human settlements, they have been known to fight Walruses, they do kill their prey by crushing the head in their jaws, etc. The bit where Shako cunningly covers his black button of a nose to sneak up on his prey is probably more folkloric than scientific, but it does demonstrate the breadth of their research. Not actually knowing either Pat Mills or John Wagner personally and given the curious absence of academic attention given to SHAKO, I’m unsure as to whether they read several dusty tomes by learned men with frostbitten cheeks or just flicked through The Ladybird Book of Bears. The point is they read something and worked it into their narrative. This does give the sensationalistic shenanigans some slight veneer of plausibility. Which is handy because without it SHAKO would be pulp nonsense at its most scruffily bloody and lacking in any plausibility in which to couch its polemical teeth.

4. “The Humans Were Hurting Him Again. They Must Be Taught A Lesson…” ShakoAngry In keeping with the ideological premise Shako is a bear and he is just bearing about doing his bear thang until humanity ruins his day with its ill advised chemical weapons in easily swallowed capsule form. SHAKO’s not sadistic as such he just has different terms of reference what with him being a bear and all. Often when he is throwing people around like screaming rag dolls or rolling around on them crushing every bone in their body he is fact “playing”. Later though SHAKO does start hating and playtime is most definitely over. But to be fair by this point he’s lost his mate and cubs, wrestled a Russian(!), been shot, stabbed, prepped for surgery, escaped from a sinking helicopter and just generally been really mucked about. So the fact that he’s a little less temperate in the area of self control might not be excusable but it is understandable. SHAKO – more sinned against than sinning!

SHAKO is smarter than the average bear though; he is able to enter a house so quietly that he is mistaken for a towel by a showering Texan. (“Holy Moses To BetseeEEAH!”). And the writers are smart enough to use him as a means to give the very English love of antiauthoritarianism a good airing. This gets down even to the level of criticising the cosmetics industry. Rooting through the Texan’s bathroom cabinet SHAKO is attracted to a lipstick which is as colourful as berries but does it taste as nice…”IT DID NOT!” See, you thought I was just being sarky warky but, no, there’s subtext all over this thing! See: obviously SHAKO is in blithe defiance of the U.S. Military Industrial Complex but he also metes out just desserts to a strict schoolmarm and a ward nurse who is a bit quick with her fists. As you can tell SHAKO had no truck for authority and a pioneering attitude to gender equality; women are as bad as men and both make fine snacks.

5. “The Polar Bear Who Brought The Cold War To Flashpoint!” ShakoNose Well, that’s all just super, I hear you snore, but there are different societies and it’s hardly fair to tar all societies with the same beary brush is it now? It’s okay because luckily the Artic turns out to be a pretty busy place what with Russians, Americans and even the French turning up. Mills and Wagner pay particular attention to replicating the authentic idioms of each - Russian:"You speak "BAD things to The KGB!", American:"Ya there, Ellie May, Honey? " and, my favourite, French:"Sacre Bleu! Zat is one big bear,eh, Mon Ami!".

The Americans are goal-orientated and tech-savvy but fail to accommodate the difficulties and nuances of the environment in which they are battling. Could Shako be the first Vietnam analogy involving a polar bear? Perhaps. Meanwhile The Russians are blinded by unthinking subservience to dogma and the need to best the Americans. Initially they don’t know why the polar bear is of note they only know that the Yanks want it so they capture it and take it aboard their Whaling ship cum KGB spy ship. This turns out quite badly. In fact, so disputed does the bemused bear become that a nuclear interaction is only narrowly avoided. Could Shako be the first Cuban Missile crisis analogy involving a polar bear? Perhaps.

6. “The Bear Took My GUN ARM. So This Is Personal, See?” Foulmouth Now while humanity can be painted in broad strokes as a bunch of callous buffoons certain individuals are singled out so we can have someone to root for or someone to boo in this polar pantomime of pant soiling terror. While the characterisation is blunt as a stump it is redeemed by its brash energy. You certainly know who everyone is and what everyone wants. Jake “Foulmouth” Falmouth, for example, wants to get that danged bear so he can get that capsule for his government masters. Well, that’s his initial stance but following Shako’s aggressive appropriation of his arm Falmouth vows a sweary vow to get that dingdanged bear and kind of lets the capsule take a back seat. This is pretty much the depth of character development you’ll find in SHAKO. Look, it’s about a killer polar bear so I’m not sure how much character development you were expecting there. Falmouth is the Bad Man, The Hunter who becomes consumed by The Hunt and then literally consumed by The Hunted. Basically he’s Robert Shaw in JAWS but without John Milius’ dialogue. So yeah, Falmouth is pretty great.

7. “WHITE MAN’S Methods Have Failed To Kill SHAKO – Now I’ll Do It The ESKIMO Way…” ShakoStare The most sympathetic human here is called Buck Dollar (I guess Burger MacFries was taken or something). Anyway Buck Dollar is a half Inuit/half American who clearly represents the intermingling of cultures and the tension between nature and civilisation. Almost immediately Buck has a chance to finish Shako off but refuses as he recognises the inherent spiritual purity of a beast which enjoys clawing people like scratch poles. Personally as much as I am expected to sympathise with Buck I wouldn’t want him to be making any decisions my life might depend on.  Later in the penultimate confrontation Buck faces Shako with a combination of traditional spear and war cry ("MANICHOK!"). While this is thematically faithful, alas, in practical terms this is a quite frankly terrible plan and results in both parties being badly wounded.

Naturally in the final confrontation atop a mound of refuse Shako is dispatched by the power of Buck’s faith in his own heritage and his rejection of the ways of civilisation. No, not really. Buck shoots Shako with a bazooka at point blank range. Which kind of confuses the message, I think. I also think that the capsule everyone has been concerned with not damaging must have been somewhat more robust than previously thought. I think maybe someone might have shot SHAKO with a bazooka somewhat sooner really. I think they pulled this ending out of their backside is what I think. Such are the perils of writing a weekly series that can be cancelled at short notice due to poor reader reaction.

8. “AT LAST!”

And so the cautionary tale of Shako ends with Man and Bear dead in the garbage of a civilisation which is implacably and unthinkingly encroaching into the wild. Through everything Shako was true to himself. Yes, a lot of people died horribly, some children were irreparably traumatised and The Cold War almost heated up with a nuclear fire but in the end “…SHAKO DIED WELL!” ShakoEnd When I was a child I read SHAKO and it was EXCELLENT! When I became a man I read SHAKO again and it still ain’t half bad.