Review: Metalshark Bro: What the Fin
Bob Frantz, Kevin Cuffe, and Walter Ostlie’s Metalshark Bro: What the Fin is a little over 90 pages of cartoonish violence, fun one-liners, and a battle between Heaven and Hell with an anthropomorphic shark and a floating, hat-wearing magic eyeball named Ira caught in between. The premise is that a heavy metal band is lost at sea, and its members are devoured by an ordinary shark. However, Beelzebra, Satan’s “douchebag nephew”, held claim to one of their souls so he merged the soul of the band members with the shark to create “Metalshark Bro”. Now, Metalshark Bro must travel the land and collect the souls on Beelzebra’s to-do list so he can return to swimming in the ocean and having rows of teeth. However, as with any story featuring a Faustian bargain, it’s a bit more complicated than that.
Metalshark Bro is definitely a comic you read for the over the top mayhem paired with its protagonist’s easygoing, and at times, cheesy quips as he cuts all his opponents down a peg. However, there are some sweet moments too like when Metalshark Bro takes a break to pet a cat (Who ends up biting his hand) or leading a resistance movement. Bob Frantz and Kevin Cuffe set up some basic world-building with different realms, magic, a hierarchy of devils looking for souls, and a militant church trying to end the apocalypse that is straight out of the late-1990s Top Cow comic, but more tongue in cheek than sleazy. However, this world (and plot) exists just to take Metalshark Bro and Ira from wacky situation to situation as he tries to become himself again.
However, these situations that Frantz, Cuffe, and Walter Ostlie conjure up are creative and fun and make Metal Shark Bro a breezy read. For example, there’s an extended fight with a wizard that transforms into a goat whose heart Metal Shark Bro ends up eating, or later on, he and Ira end up fighting a horde of donut shaped demons. The comic also has pop culture homages too, including Star Wars, Fight Club, and mecha anime in general. Bob Frantz and Kevin Cuffe really write Metalshark Bro as a classic, wisecracking action protagonist, which is very much a coping mechanism as much as it’s his personality, especially when he ends up a little bit over his head later tin the comic. Metalshark Bro really has a unique personality: an incredibly human blend of anger and politeness like when he slaughters all the diners at a chicken and waffle restaurant, but still leaves a tip. He definitely reacts how someone would if you were put in another species’ body with a completely different set of rules and purpose for living.
On the art side of things, Walter Ostlie creates his share of big, dynamic moments in Metalshark Bro like the initial transformation sequence, or even Metalshark Bro and his fellow prisoners fake fighting to start a riot and escape. However, he doesn’t sacrifice storytelling coherence or smoothness for cool metal moments using grids for rapid fire conversations like when Satan and his nephew have a little chat and opening up the page and intensifying the color palette during the various fights against wizards, monsters, demons, or ninja nuns. All kinds of fluids are flying throughout this book, and it gives Metalshark Bro a knowing B-movie charm to go with its deadpan humor meets eviscerated body parts Adult Swim tone. However, the emotional side of the story comes from little jaw and eye movements from Metalshark Bro as he genuinely wants to back in the ocean even though it looks like he’s having a good time tearing through damned souls.
Metalshark Bro: What the Fin has a likable protagonist, a good sense of humor, and epic art from Walter Ostlie that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Bob Frantz and Kevin Cuffe have combined two classic story archetypes (Hero’s Journey, Deal with the Devil) and replaced the usual white bread protagonist with an anthropomorphic shark and a floating eye with some laugh out loud funny results and loads of violence. This is definitely a book you want to check out if you want to take a break from the “real world” for a bit.
Story: Bob Frantz and Kevin Cuffe Art: Walter Ostlie Letters: Chas! Pangburn
Story: 8.8 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.9 Recommendation: Buy
Scout Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review