Friday, July 13, 2018

Dojo Classics - House Of Yang #1

Sanho Kim 
House of Yang Volume 1, Number 1 is dated July, 1975 and was published by Charlton Publications Inc. The editor is George Wildman. The cover was painted by Sanho Kim who is also the artist on the interiors. The script was supplied by Joe Gill. Kim was the artist originally intended to launch Charlton's martial arts series, but thanks to the vagaries of the postal service, that work was lost for a time and the saga of Yang was quickly developed by Gill and Warren Sattler and hit the stands. Now Kim has been tapped to do the spin-off of the successful series.

"Empress of Evil" begins in the 1890's in China. We learn that in addition to his son Yang, Chung Yuan also tutored Sun Yang, a nephew in the ways of Yin and Yang, pressing both boys to follow the good path of Yang. Sun Yang is gone when Chao Ku was killed by order of Chao Ku and Yang was captured and taken to America. Eva Ku, blonde and beautiful but deadly woman takes control of Chao Ku's estate. She and her consort Nevil Pryce know of Sun Yang's existence, but do not fear him since he is likely to be killed fighting Chinese warlords in the North.

The scene shifts to the court of warlord Yat Po who has captured the black-haired Sun Yang, but who escapes and attacks the warlord. After a furious battle, Sun Yang escapes but the rumour is that he has killed Yat Po. He heads back to the estate of his Uncle after an absence of four years. He is suspicious of new cargo sheds on the estate and takes caution, entering through a secret passage hidden in a well. But Eva Ku knows of this secret passage and is waiting for the surprised Sun Yang when he emerges from the secret door. She confronts the hero and tries to seduce him with herself and threats. She reveals she is the half-sister of Yin Li, the nemesis of Yang in America. But Sun rejects her and she has her giant bodyguard Suto attack him. After a ferocious battle, Sun Yang defeats him but is caught off guard by Eva Ku's blow dart disguised as a cigarette holder.

"A Breath of Death" begins as Sun is struck by the dart. Pryce thinks Sun is dead, but Eva Ku says that is not so but that he must be gotten rid of. Sun Yang is taken to a cell where water rains down upon him. Bound he is certain to die, but Chung Yuan's clerk shows up and gives him a knife. Using the knife he escapes the trap and gets updated on the doings around the estate and of the fate of Chung Yuan and his son Yang. Sun then decides to attack the source of Eva Ku's power, her trade in opium and plots to attack her junk. He does so, confronts Eva Ku stopping her from shooting him by knocking her out. A battle ensues and Pryce tries to use the deck gun to sink the sampan which brought Sun Yang out to the junk. But Sun jams the gun and it explodes destroying the junk in a furious fire. Sun Yang escapes and regrets the seeming deaths of his foes.

"Welcome to the House of Yang" is a text piece which talks about Charlton's first martial arts hero Judomaster by Frank McLaughlin and then discusses the success of Yang.

Sanho Kim's special qualifications as a native of Korea and a skilled martial artist himself are put forth and the some hints about Sun Yang's adventures against the more modern Japanese in the next issue is teased.

This story has been reprinted thrice that I know of. Once in 1978 under the Modern Comics logo, again in Australia under the Gredown label, and yet again in the United States and Canada under the Avalon (ACG) banner.

The formula which worked so effectively in Yang is reproduced here almost exactly, save for the setting. Sun is the good hero and male and Eva is the evil villain and female. It's a basic format that stood Yang in good stead, but was already becoming tedious. This series was published in the off months of the bimonthly Yang comic, so Charlton was delivering martial arts action each and every month.

This series seems more authentic than the original Yang, and that's of course because of the immense talent and special circumstances of its artist Sanho Kim. Kim was the best choice for a series like this than anyone then working in comics. The way some reviews have read, it's House of Yang which seems to be considered the primary entry by Charlton in the martial arts genre at this time. The series sure seems to have been reprinted more often.

More to come as we return to the original Yang next week.

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1 comment:

  1. Really nice work. Though I own and have come across several of the Yang issues over the years. House Of Yang has always eluded me. It would be fabulous to see this collected in a volume someday (as well as Mr. Kim’s other work in the ghost books and such.)


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