The bell is about to ring on the first round of Image Comics' Shirtless Bear-Fighter, with this week's issue #5 bringing the provocatively titled series from co-writers Jody LeHeup and Sebastian Griner and artist Nil Vendrell and Mike Spicer to a close -- for now, at least.
"'Ending' is such a permanent word," LeHeup told CBR. "I think maybe it's better to look at issue #5 as 'the end for now.' The truth is that the series -- or rather this first run -- was always supposed to end at #5. So we're not getting cancelled or anything like that. Far from it. Demand for more is off the chart. And it's only going to increase when readers see what we're cooking up for issue #5. Series artist Nil Vendrell, colorist Mike Spicer and letterer Dave Lanphear really pulled out all the stops to make this the side-splitting, jaw-dropping finale SBF! deserves."
Of course, that begs the question on whether or not Shirtless Bear-Fighters will return -- and it sounds like a very strong maybe.
"We'd love that," LeHeup said. "We had such a blast working on these books and the response from fans and critics and the creative community has been overwhelming. But we took our time on this first run to craft something we believe is special and we're going to approach whatever comes next for SBF! the same way. That said we've got a ton of ideas for where the series could go."
LeHeup also adds that both he and Girner are working on new projects, with Girner and artist Galaad's Scales and Scoundrels currently running at Image Comics, and LeHeup with a series of his own on the way, set to be announced in the spring: "It's a big, epic, sci-fi adventure with an absolute dream-team of art collaborators. Definitely one of the most gorgeous comics on the stands the day it drops and the most intense thing I've ever written so... get excited."
Shirtless Bear-Fighter #5 is on sale this Wednesday, Oct. 18, and the 152-page collected edition is scheduled for release on Dec. 6. CBR has an exclusive preview of issue #5 -- which, fair warning, contains spoilers -- including the main cover by Andrew Robinson, and variants by Vendrell and Jerome Opeña.