Originally published in Progs 20 – 35

Cover date: 9th July, 1977 – 22nd October, 1977

If I told you that there was a 16 part strip co-written by Pat Mills and John Wagner, the Godfathers of 2000AD, then the chances are you’d be expecting something pretty special. It’s unlikely then, that you would expect it to be about the C.I.A. trying to hunt down a polar bear. But that’s exactly what Shako is about, and it’s a pretty unusual slice of 2000AD history.

The basic premise for the story is a pretty flimsy one. Shako is a polar bear who one day happens to eat a metal cylinder; unfortunately said cylinder contains a deadly virus created by the C.I.A, who are desperate to get it back. Over the next 16 parts both C.I.A and Soviet agents attempt to kill Shako and retrieve the cylinder. You’d perhaps be surprised that that premise ended up being 16 parts long, and having read it I’m still not sure how it managed to last so long. Very little happens throughout the story, with pretty much every part being the same. Agents attempt to capture or kill Shako, but instead Shako kills them, and then next week the exact same happens again. In the end every character dies, and the reader is left wondering what the hell the point of any of that was.

In spite of this Shako seems to have received something of a cult following, gaining a reprint and a cover piece in an extreme edition, with even a t-shirt being available to buy right now from the 2000AD shop. If I can pick one positive from the whole thing, then it is the eponymous Shako. Throughout the strip our sympathies lie firmly with the Polar Bear, as opposed to the men who are chasing him. Other than that there is very little to recommend giving Shako a read, with the whole thing being best summed up by the ridiculously memorable (or memorably ridiculous) tag line:

“The Polar Bear who brought the Cold War to flash point.”

 

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