Pullbox Reviews: Metalshark Bro #1- It’s Bill & Ted… just with more teeth & random acts of violence

The next entry in the new NONSTOP! Imprint where Scout releases a World Premiere issue followed by the entire story a few months later in one volume. What the Fin is a Metalshark Bro? Well, here’s the liner notes summary: a traditional shark stumbles upon Satan’s nephew and is forcibly given anthropomorphic qualities. With his newfound human physique and propensity for violence, he’s tasked with collecting the souls of those that have sworn allegiance to Satan. The only problem? He just wants to be a normal shark again! Naturally, he swears bloody vengeance and, uh, a whole lot of death ensues! Metalshark Bro! is perfect for fans of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Tenacious D, and Rick and Morty.

On a day like any other, far out in the Indian Ocean, a satanic metal bro will see his world turned upside down. Not really, cuz that dude totally gets ganked by a big ass shark on the second page. But that shark… oooh boy is he gonna be in for it, cuz said metal bro was a servant of the dark one himself and boy is he miffed. As payment for his transgression the shark shall be transformed, tasked with reaping souls in the name of Satan. He will henceforth be…

METALSHARK BRO!

(Cue sweet AF guitar riff)

I’m not gonna lie to you people, I kinda love this comic. I’m not sure why because there’s no way it should have worked. It’s ridiculous, completely over the top, and should not have been anything but a short diversion from reality. Which is, of course, exactly how and why it works for me. This is a story that’s just about as tongue in cheek as it’s possible to get, and it’s populated by as bizarre a cast of characters as you’re liable to find anywhere.

Okay, let’s count ‘em off… We’ve got the main character- Metalshark Bro– who is at heart a shark that just wants to go back to being the ocean’s apex predator, swimming & eating, eating & swimming. This whole self-awareness thing kinda blows, bro, so he just wants to get back to his natural state. Then you’ve got (you’re gonna love this one) Beelzebra, “the Mighty Satan’s herald & nephew!” He was the one originally in charge of collecting the souls for his lord and uncle but he’s, like, totally got other stuff to do so he shrugs the gig off onto Metalshark Bro. And then there’s… okay, well that’s really it so far in issue 1, aside from a handful of folk who show up & are promptly killed.

I would like to offer the virtual fist bump to everyone involved in this comic, starting with the writers cuz that’s just how I roll. Bob Frantz & Kevin Cuffe have done the nigh-impossible in that they’ve made an anthropomorphized metal shark (bro) slaughtering people in the name of Satan a likable and somewhat sympathetic character. I mean, we’ve all been there, right? Right? How many of us have been put into a position where we weren’t entirely comfortable, dealing with a situation that we had no control of and just wanted to get it all over with so we could back to the way things were? That’s where Metalshark Bro is. Maybe he was totally cool with killing random stuff as a plain ol’ shark swimming around the ocean, but now that he’s aware of the larger world around him it just isn’t the same. That’s called pathos, and it’s a totally kick ass literary device used to instill a sense of sympathy in the reader. The fact that Frantz & Cuffe thought to use it in this context is… hmm, not really sure what it is, but I’m willing to bet there was a beer or two involved.

And then there’s the art. Walter Ostlie has created an unlikely… hmm (again), maybe “hero” is a bit of a stretch, but whatever Metalshark Bro is I think we can all agree that he’s pretty unlikely. If I’m being totally honest, he looks metal AF! Ostlie’s style leans heavily into that heavy metal attitude, all sharp lines, jagged angles, & splashes of vivid color. A highlight of the issue was a blood drenched two-page spread where Shark Bro is going to work, and I could just about hear the thrum of power chords building up to a crescendo. Maybe most impressive, Ostlie manages to make the titular character expressive… don’t ask me how, cuz he’s a two-legged shark wearing a leather jacket, but there it is.

Finally, I have to give credit where it’s due, & Chas! Pangburn is in fact due. It would have been pretty easy for the lettering in Metalshark Bro to tilt one way or the other. Too understated & the attitude of the book loses some of its punch. Too far in the other direction, & it could have become a frenzied mess of words competing with the art for space on the page. Pangburn lands it right down the center line, like a fin slicing through the water on its way to a quick dinner, reinforcing the sense of that heavy metal soundtrack I can still hear in my head.

I honestly don’t know what I was expecting when I picked this one out. I was just grabbing random books because I liked what Scout was doing during the Covid lockdown- buying direct from their website, they’d donate a part of the purchase price to the local comic shop of your choice. I got a couple trades, & a sampling of first issues… Metalshark Bro being the one I picked cuz it looked kinda cool & it gave me an even number. What I wound up with was maybe a new title to add to my list of favorite left of center comics. It’s unique, it’s odd, and it flipped the stress switch in my head to the off position for a little bit.

It’s also got me going back to the Scout Comics website to snag the trade… so there’s that.

Final Score: 10+

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