Review – Care Bears: Unlock the Magic #1 (IDW Publishing)

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writers: Matthew Erman & Nadia Shammas
Artwork: Agnes Garbowska
Colours: Silvana Brys
Design/Letters: Christa Miesner
Release Date: 10th July 2019

Now, unlike my My Little Pony review, Care Bears is not a franchise I have much truck with. I remember it clearly being a thing in the ‘80s as a youngster, and having kids of my own now I can’t really miss them in the shops. So when I was given the chance to read this with my daughter I found myself going in blind; at least my five-year-old knew some of the names to keep me right!

Following the adventures of the Cloudseeker and its passengers, and being based on the animated series of the same name, this is another adventure in the Silver Lining. I’m sure fans of the show will have this down pat, but for both of us, it was all nice and shiny and new. As a novice, I was expecting this to have similar visuals to the classic ‘80s bears but Garbowska, Brys, and Miesner do a great job of recreating the look of the current show in the panels here (I had to do some follow-up research after the bedtime read).

Despite all the bears essentially looking the same, colours notwithstanding, there’s plenty of character and expression, which meant that wasn’t long before I was able to quickly recognise who was who and get stuck into the actual storyline. Although clearly modern in look, there were sprinkles of retro nostalgia in the colour palette and I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t become visually repetitive.

Story-wise, it’s your usual Saturday morning cartoon plot of a baddie, in this case Bluster, and a foul plan to destroy the goodies. There are strange goings on in the Silver Lining at the Glass Glaciers, and instead of magically reflecting who you want to be, the reflections are causing ructions with the Whiffles, which means no planting of seeds of care, which its bad news for Care-a-Lot. Erman and Shammas are obviously working with established canon, but the cutesy nomenclature and overly sweet sharing and caring isn’t used as a crutch. At its core there is a good fantasy concept here, and I found myself being able to enjoy some of the humour whilst also being given a character I could empathise with in Grumpy Bear.

This was definitely not my usual literary fare but after getting to know the characters I had a lot of fun reading this with my daughter. There were plenty of stops for questions and chatter about, “why is so-and-so doing that”, but even this didn’t disrupt the easy flow of the story. Some of the dialogue was perhapsa little stilted, but I’m guessing this reflects how the characters talk in the show.

For current fans, this will no doubt be a great little book to pick up and encourage more reading. For new fans, it’s an easy enough entry point to a magical world with a fun story. I’d have to admit to a new found fondness for a certain bear and these amusing Whiffles. For grown-up fans, I guess it’ll depend on how fondly you remember the world of Care-a-Lot from first time round.

Rating: 3/5.


The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster

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