Monday, July 9, 2018

Dojo Classics - Yang #5

Yang Volume 2, Number 5 is dated November, 1974 and was published by Charlton Publications Inc. The cover is by Warren Sattler who is also the artist on the interiors. Joe Gill offers up the script with George Wildman in the saddle as editor.

"The Beast is Waiting" begins when Yang is challenged by a murderous gunman and Yin Li the deceitful daughter of Chao Ku, Yang's arch enemy and the man who murdered his father. Yang throws an axe to disarm the gunman and then leaps and overpowers Yin Li who vows again to kill him. He embraces her and they share a passionate kiss, after which he walks away from her. She threatens him again and shoots repeatedly but harmlessly at his feet as he leaves.

The action shifts to the train of A.J.Hartley, the unscrupulous railroad magnate who uses the coolies supplied by Chao Ku to build his line. He is enjoying some drinks with the slaver and opium dealer Chao Ku and Captain Keegan, formerly of a clipper ship Yang burned a few issues previously. They share their hatred of Yang and enjoy the spectacle of the beast who is caged in a special car. It is a shaggy man-beast known in Chao Ku's homeland of China as the Yeti but called in America Bigfoot. This particular beast was captured by Paiute Indians and has been tortured by Chao Ku to become a man-killer. At that same time, Yang is with some local Paiute Indians talking about among other things the reality of a man-beast called Bigfoot.

The scene shifts again, this time with Yin Li seemingly thrown out the door of her father's headquarters with scorn. She wanders into the rugged terrain and is followed by Yang. This is her plan of course to lure Yang into a trap, which she springs by falling into a steep canyon. Yang follows her and is observed by Chao Ku, Captain Keegan, and J.L.Hartley as the Bigfoot appears and threatens the couple. Yang battles the beast to limited effect when Yin Li does a turnabout and grabs a branch to help him fend off the savage killer. At that same moment riflemen under Chao Ku's orders begin to fire to kill the Bigfoot to save Yin Li. They hit the Bigfoot and Yin Li and Yang realize the creature might be less savage than they imagined.

"The Jackals Gather" begins when Yang battles the wounded Bigfoot assisted by Yin Li. They are able to fend off the beast, but then gunmen on the canyon ledge continue to fire trying to kill Yang. Keegan and Hartley join in on this effort and bullets whiz into the canyon. Yang attempts to climb out to confront the attackers and is followed by the Bigfoot who instead of attacking Yang overtakes him on the cliff and attacks the gunmen, specifically Keegan who he pitches into the canyon. Other gunmen follow and the Bigfoot is wounded many times. Chao Ku and Hartley have fled. Yang and Yin Li work to bind his wounds and get him into a wagon taking him to a location where another Bigfoot appears to look after the beast. Yang and Yin Li share another kiss, despite Yang's knowledge that Yin Li will betray him on another day.

"Yin-Yang Mail" features three letters. One writer complements the book and wants to know if the Yin-Yang myth is a Charlton creation. Another has good things to say about Gill and Sattler. The third wishes that Charlton would give the old Action Heroes another try and especially complimentary of Ditko's Blue Beetle, but the editor's response suggests Charlton is more interested in new heroes like E-Man and Yang.

To my knowledge this issue of Yang has never been reprinted.

I love Bigfoot stories and movies, so needless to say this is a fun comic. I don't necessarily believe in Bigfoot, but the myth and the lore are great fun to follow and explore. I was still a young man when the infamous 1967 Patterson-Gimlin film appeared, and I remember seeing it in the theaters. It had a profound effect on my imagination, and I've adored Bigfoot stories since.

As Bigfoot stories go, this issue of Yang is not bad. The Bigfoot/Yeti is assumed to exist in the stories and no one really doubts it. The Bigfoot featured here is at once savage and beastly, but Sattler does a great job of making it not too ape like. This is another type of beast all together. That Chao Ku has to torture the beast to make it a danger, points to notion that Bigfoot is a gentle creature capable of great harm when roused. That's some of the charm of the lore, and this story by Gill gets right to it. They do call the creature "Bigfoot" in this story, and that name for the man-beast is likely anachronistic, since I don't think it was coined until the 1950's. But that's a small glitch in a story that clearly is not meant to be history, though it makes heady use of an historical setting.

More to come.

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