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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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06/06/2005 Archived Entry: "Comics review: Lions, Tigers, and Bears 1-3"

Lions, Tigers and Bears 1-3
By Mike Bullock and Jack Lawrence
Published by Image Comics

Review by Kathryn Ramage

Oh my!

Despite the title, this children's comics series has only a basic thematic similarity to The Wizard of Oz: a young person is drawn into a fabulous fantasy world, journeys to see the ruler of this land, faces some dangers, and learns some important lessons about growing up along the way. Instead of a scarecrow and tinman, our young hero's companions are all huge jungle cats (and not one of them cowardly).

Our hero is a young boy named Joey, who is moving to a new home and is trying to overcome his fear of the dark. He is especially worried about the monsters in his closet, which he calls "The Beasties."

Before he leaves, his grandmother, a reputedly wacky old lady whose "cheese is sliding off her cracker," gives him a present: a set of four cute little stuffed animals to place around his bed at night to protect him from the Beasties. They are a lion named Pallo (Leader of the Pack!); a black panther named Minerva; an orange tiger named Venus; and a white tiger named Ares. On his first night in his new home, Joey puts the four animals around his bed -- and, sure enough, as soon as he's asleep, something tries to come in through the closet, but Pallo blocks the way. The next night, Joey finds himself in the midst of a battle: the cute little stuffed animals have grown into full-sized, hip-talking big cats, and they are fighting grotesque ape-like creatures. In the course of the battle, Joey is pulled into the cats' world, with no immediate prospect of getting home. The king of this land, when we meet him, is a giant bear who looks very much like the teddy-bear who used to protect Granny when she was a child.

It's a colorful story, with some dark shadings–intense at points, but not too graphic (when injured, the denizens of the big cats' world literally have the stuffing torn out of them) -- charmingly written and occasionally funny. And the cats are cool.

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