Reed Gunther continues to deliver the chuckles and the fun, as one would expect from an all ages read featuring a cowboy who rides a bear.
This issue is a fine example of how to handle a standalone story that offers new readers ample access into an ongoing series. With a little downtime between fighting monstrosities of various degrees (the type of which can only be found in comic books) Reed Gunther and his trusty ursine steed, Sterling, are having a “scariest face” contest around the campfire. Unfortunately for them, their traveling companion, Starla, finds their contest to be disruptive to her sleeping. Imploring them to stop, Starla convinces Reed to tell her a story.
That story, wonderfully delivered by Shane Houghton and entertainingly illustrated by Shane’s brother, Chris, features the origin of Reed’s relationship with his best friend, steed, and favorite bear, Sterling.
Set in Reed Gunther’s childhood years, we are treated to a peek into Reed’s daily life, meet his parents, and find a mysterious menace who has shown up previously in this title. According to the letters page, that menace just might return once more. That’s exactly the kind of hook a book like this needs to insert into a “new-reader-friendly” jumping on point. Honestly, though, every single issue of “Reed Gunther” has been approachable enough for new readers of every age.
There are layers to the story, the humor, and the art throughout this issue (and the series to date). The Houghton brothers are clearly having fun with this book and they telegraph that fun throughout the issue, such as the stinkeye Reed’s father’s horse gives him during Reed’s riding lessons.
All too often, I hear (and I’m just as guilty as those I’m mentioning) that comics aren’t fun, are draining, are boring, or just plain not what the complainer wants to be reading. If I could hand each and every one of those people a copy of “Reed Gunther,” I would. This is a smart, funny, friendly, and -- most importantly -- fun book. What makes it even better is the fact that if you like this issue -- this single commitment of three bucks -- Image has just printed up the first trade paperback o the series to this point.
While every issue doesn’t have bonus features per se, this issue does. The extras in this issue include the beginnings of the Reed Gunther letters pages, an extra three-page story and the origin of the mustache that graces Reed’s upper lip. That’s quite a bit for one comic nowadays, but most importantly, this is one FUN comic.