Well here we are to my third box of unread comics. For those who haven't followed, theoretically I read a comic a day of comics I bought and never got around to reading. Some of them going back to the early '90s (well when I bought them I should say). I will review some of those comics. I tried to post one once a week, but I do get lazy.
Power Man & Iron Fist #119
Cover art by: John Byrne
Story: Daughter of the Dragon King
Writer: Jim Owsley
Penciler: Mark Bright
Inker: Jerry Acerno
The city of K'un L'un is in ruins! Iron Fist is dying of radiation! Lei Kung begins an attempt to cure Danny and in the process he shows him how K'un L'un ended up destroyed. It is a really nifty flashback, with some great cinematic art by Bright & Co. Although it did include a flashback to Iron Fist's origin which seemed a bit superfluous to me.
The gist of it is a dragon prince, Chiantang, gets enraged because his sister married a mortal and her husband ended up dishonoring her. He turns his rage upon the city and leaves it ruins. He is a very powerful looking dragon, but he is purple, so you know, he kind of loses some of his edge. He gets captured eventually. In the present now his sister uses her shapeshifting powers to free him. His rage blinds him, and Chiantang ends up killing his sister. He refuses to take responsibility for this act of violence and starts another rampage in the city. The bodies of Power Man and Colleen Wing come flying through the room were Lei Kung is attempting to heal Danny. Lei Kung leaves Danny in an attempt to fight the dragon. Danny wakes up ready to kick butt...anyone's butt.
It was interesting, to me anyways, to see the writer and artist of future cult classic Quantum & Woody on this series. There was nothing technically wrong with the writing in this issue, but there was something about it just kind of boring about it. It was still pretty early in Jim Owsley's (Christopher Priest) career, so no big worries since this series would be going away pretty soon. Mark Bright's art sure did shine though (sorry)
Power Man & Iron Fist #120
Cover art by: Mark Bright & Jerry Acerno
Writer: Jim Owsley
Penciler: Mark Bright
Inker: Jerry Acerno
We follow-up last issues exciting conclusion (an evil Iron Fist) with an absolutely wonderful splash page. It is an Asian inspired piece of art. Following that we get a double page spread of Iron Fist walloping the dragon, Chiantang. Power Man and Lei Kung decide they are going to have to figure out a way to defeat Chiantag and help Iron Fist. Before that though, Power Man asks Lei Kung why Danny's costume is red , and it is because the evil consumes him (although it is miscolored green on the double spread) Lei Kung has a plan, but it doesn't work out quite like he plans: We get a very brief appearance by Dr. Druid, which is fine with me. Really you could plug in any magic using dude to do what he did here (teleport the pair to the tree that would take them to the Dragon King's realm). After getting rebuffed by the Dragon King, Lei Kung decides to steal the dragon slaying sword. A chase of sorts is on.
Power Man and Lei Kung do eventually get away from the Dragon King's men, and return to the site where Iron Fist and Chiantang are doing battle. Apparently it has been several hours since they left, and both are still going strong. Power Man takes the sword and swats Chaintang with it. Amusingly, this does nothing. Although Luke's look does cut a very impressive sword and sorcery pose. Lei Kung realizes that he has to recite the incantation on the sword, and not just swing it around. Nether he nor Luke appear to be the brightest guys around.
Lei Kung completes the spell, and it sucks Chiantang into another dimension. Danny leaps in after him and [Spoiler Warning]Luke grabs Danny and pulls him back through the vortex. This cures him of his evil some how [end Spoiler]
There is some really great dialogue here between Luke and Lei Kung which I liked a lot. Owsley had perfect use of thought balloons here, not too much or too little. At one point each guy thinking about how strong the other one is. I do think he makes Power Man a bit too dumb at times. Mark Bright's art here was also excellent. He has some really great facial expressions going on.
Another bit I liked was the very brief fight between Power Man and Iron Fist. Power Man was awed by the power that Danny keeps inside. Plus you could see the chi energy radiating from not only Danny's fists, but his eyes as well. A very cool visual.
Richard Dragon, Kung-Fu Fighter #1
Cover art by: Dick Giordano
Story: Coming of a Dragon!
Writer: Jim Dennis (Denny O'Neil)
Art: Leopoldo Durañona
The first thing I learned was that Richard Dragon is based on a character in a novel written by Jim Dennis. Who, through some internet searching, is Dennis O'Neil and Jim Berry. O'Neil also edits this comic.
Anyways, Richard Dragon is a racist thief, who tries to steal a statue in Japan. He is topped by O-Sensei who beats him up a bit, and so does one of O-Sensei's students Benjamin, a black man. After his defeat O-Sensei offers to train him, and Richard agrees. Richard trains for 6 years (½ a page!), and O-Sensei tells him that he and Benjamin should go as he has nothing else to teach them. You can really see a change in Richard's personality here. Some character growth even in such a short amount of page space. Of course his bad side was probably played up given the space restrictions of the issue.
The pair are soon recruited by G.O.O.D. Which is perhaps the worst acronymed organization of all time. I only assume they will be fighting E.V.I.L. at some point. Pretty awful. They are recruited to stop a slave ring in the Sudan. It is really nice that they used an actual country, and not some made up DC area. Their plan to free the slaves doesn't go the way the pair planned, but it ends up working out anyways. We also see that Richard still has a bit of a temper at times.
I think the cover is fine, nothing spectacular, but that is the highlight of the art here. Durañona just doesn't have the artistic chops for this series. He figures are too blocky, and he doesn't posses the fluidity to portray the martial arts action. He also tries to obscure his faces with shading as those aren't that great either.
Benjamin is Ben Turner, the future Bronze Tiger. In this issue he isn't even given a last name. It will be a while before he is sporting his Bronze Tiger costume which I have always loved. An underrated character if you ask me. Here he and Richard Dragon are on equal footing as partners. It would be a couple of years before we see Power Man & Iron Fist get together.
A decent comic for a first issue. Just held back by the art.
Richard Dragon, Kung-Fu Fighter #18
Cover art by: Rich Buckler & Jack Abel
Story: The Secret of the Bronze Dragon
Writer: Denny O'Neil
Art: Ric Estrada
Now I give you the last issue in the series. You'll have to fill in the rest. I find this cover much more dynamic and appealing than the first issue. Ric Estrada's art isn't the best fit for this series, but he depicts the fighting in a much better fashion than Durañona did previously.
Well Ben Turner has gone missing on a mission, as we see him incapacitated by a giant floating eye (Brother Eye?). Richard Dragon and Lady Shiva are now teaching martial arts to others, and Dragon is despondent that Ben Turner missing. Lady Shiva demonstrates to Richard how weak has become by easily striking him. She also tells him of a tournament were the losers are crippled at the least and some times killed. She motivates him to go the tourney to stop it.
Richard arrives and is put into combat with an escaped con who is a master of karate. He is put into this fight by the referee of the tournament, the Bronze Tiger! Most if not all of you know who he is by now, but it is a mystery here. His mask here is a bit different from what he would later wear.
The convict at first beats the tar out of Richard Dragon easily, but Richard remembers some teaching by O-Sensei and taps into some inner strength to defeat the con. At the conclusion of the battle Bronze Tiger challenges Richard to a fight. Before they can get into it, the contest is raided by the cops. The mobsters there believe Richard dropped a dime on them (I've always wanted to write that). They make a futile effort to shoot him, and Bronze Tiger leads Richard to some ropes leading to a skylight in the ceiling. They take out some cops there, and the Bronze Tiger's mask falls to the ground. We then see that it is in fact Ben Turner.
By this issue, it seems like Denny O'Neil was hitting his stride on the series. Too bad it was the last one. It was weird seeing Lady Shiva playing, not necessarily a heroic role, but she wasn't out trying to kill someone either. Oh by the way we did learn what G.O.O.D. stands for. It was a contest held in the letters column as it meant nothing in the beginning. It stands for Global Organization for Organized Defense. Still pretty bad if you ask me.
Secret Society of Super-Villains #1
Cover art by: Ernie Chan
Story: Attend—or Die!
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artist: Pablo Marcos
Embellisher: Bob Smith
First off I am a big fan of having a cover that actually shows what goes on in a comic. The problem here is that it shows what would have been a pretty decent reveal in the book. That being that the JLA the villains fight and defeat are just robots. A nifty cover though.
For a set-up issue to a new series this actually pulls it off pretty well. We first get Captain Cold and Mirror Master pulling off a caper and later getting an invitation thrown through their window. Followed by Gorilla Grodd escaping prison, as well as Copperhead who gets a similar invitation. This soon gets wrapped up with Sinestro flying to
Earth after getting his own summons. There is a bit of foreshadowing with Sinestro noting how otherworldly the building the meeting takes place is.
Inside, the conference soon takes place, with almost all of the members of this new crew showing up. Including the new (at that time) Star Sapphire. Also, inexplicably the Shadow Thief who is only in a few panels, gets one line of dialogue, and then I don't think shows up in the series again. Well the aforementioned JLA robots show up and are defeated easily, because they are mute and powerless. The final member of the team shows up and it is one of the Paul Kirk Manhunters.
Manhunter tasks two of the villains Gorilla Grodd and Copperhead with stealing some plutonium to prove themselves. Grodd gets nuclear material, but leaves Copperhead who is captured by the authorities.
I enjoyed the nice mix of villains and a lot happened here with one decent fight scene. That being the one with Grodd and Copperhead stealing the plutonium. The one against the robots was weak. Come to think of it maybe that may be why Shadow Thief got the axe, since he was being beaten by one the robots.
The art was good and solid.
Not only was the Shadow Thief quickly gone, the caption that listed the team members included Catwoman who wasn't even in the book!
There were a lot of Flash foes used but only one Bat-villain, Copperhead. In fact this was his second appearance!
I do recall some letters that stated that if this was one of the evil Manhunter clones, then his shirt should be blue.
Good call about, Catwoman, Philip. I forgot about that. For his second appearance Copperhead sure didn't show us much.
When Copperhead first appeared in Brave & Bold #78, he was presented as cunning and dangerous, a foe that Batman could not catch! He was agile, smart and dealt with poisons, disguises and had a "serpent sense". He was drawn very gaunt and sinister-looking. In short, he had potential. But he was stuck in a story where Batman's "plan" was to distract him by having Wonder Woman and Batgirl pretend to fall in love with AND fight over the Caped Casanova. Someone was a bit full of themselves!
As for SSSV #1, it was amazing that they kept the big Superman and Batman foes out. I wonder how much they had to co-ordinate with Cary Bates since The Flash used the Rogues Gallery regularly. But then including Gorilla Grodd was puzzling. Don't they know his track record? He doesn't play well with others!
The Shadow Thief was also an original member of the Injustice Gang of the World but he was dropped in their return engagements too.
It's a wonder that they didn't have Chronos along since he was part of nearly every other super-villain group (The Crime Champions, the Injustice Gang, the Anti-Justice League).
Superboy and the Legion of Super-heroes #198
Cover art by: Nick Cardy
Story: The Fatal Five Who Twisted Time
Writer: Carey Bates
Art: Dave Cockrum
Well it appears the Fatal Five has traveled back in time with a device called the Time Sorter. Once they put it into place, it will, eventually, completely eliminate the Legion of Super-heroes. Superboy discovers the Emerald Enchantress in disguise in Smallville, and he is captured by her, The Persuader, and Mano. The trio subdue him, and put him in suspended animation. The Legion has tracked the Fatal Five back through time, inexplicably though only sent back 4 Legionnaires to capture them, when it usually take a , ahem, legion of them to capture 5 of them. Bizarre.
Menahwhile, back in the future the Legion HQ and the remaining Legionnaires begin to fade away as they are being written out of the time stream.
The away team knows they have to act quickly, because if they don't find the Time Sorter in time the changes it makes will be permanent. Brainiac 5 has a secret weapon, and if you are familiar with the Legion you will know what it is, since the villains are split as well.
I really liked the countdown at the top of the panels during the final 30 odd seconds. The numbers are incorporated in the panels. I also liked the look the Emerald Eye of Ekron has that Dave Cockrum used. Usually it is just a giant eye, but he gave it just a bit of a different look so that it is still very eye like, but just a bit alien looking.
My copy of this comic is pretty beat up as you can tell from the scan above. With some pages, damn near falling out.
...Who edited it...Julie Schwartz ? Murray Boltinoff ?
Isn't it " Cary " Bates , BTW ?
Because the title was transitioning from just Superboy to Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes, Bates decides to stay in Smallville with Lana Lang making an appearance.
Considering that Brainiac 5 was hunting two members of the Fatal Five, he brings Element Lad (okay), Karate Kid (well....) and Princess Projectra (huh??). I would have brought Saturn Girl, Ultra Boy and Timber Wolf. And for that matter, Brainy was walking around with his green skin in the mid-20th century asking the locals questions like a Coluan CSI agent. Nice bit, though, with E-Lad eating cotton candy and a great new costume as well! Speaking of the locals, I wonder what they thought about the Princess' barely-there outfit?
The Legion fought the Fatal Five in this issue, #219, #231 and #247-248 during the height of the Bronze Age and yet I never thought that they were used right. Validus did return in #203 (my first SLSH comic) with tragic results!