Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Dojo Classics - Yang #7

Yang Volume 3, Number 7 is dated April, 1975 and was published by Charlton Publications, Inc. The editor is George Wildman. The cover is a beautiful painting by Warren Sattler, the artist on the interior of the comic too. The script is supplied by Joe Gill.

The story "Queen of Evil" begins in Chinatown with Chao Ku, Yang's enemy, issuing a bounty on Yang for $50,000 dollars. He also comments that while he wanted a son, his lovely Yin Li's evil is all he could've hoped for. Yin Li and a one-eyed assassin find Yang at a temple and get the drop on him. The hog-tie the hero and carry him through the street to Chao Ku. But Yang when confronted by a swordsman ready to take his head, is able to have the blade cut his bonds instead and gets hold of the massive sword and throws into the body of Chao Ku, killng the the slaver and opium overlord. Chao Ku's body is pinned into his chair and Yin Li overcome with grief and anger attacks Yang but gets caught by him and they go to the basement together where she tries to trick him with a basket of cobras. Yang throws the cobra on the henchmen, evades Yin Li's poison ring one more time and jumps out the window. He picks up a rifle and shoots a guard and then makes good his escape from the compound.
Chao Ku's body is laid out and then Yin Li takes charge. Her first act is to poison Huk Hui a ruthless killer she does not trust. She orders Captain Keegan to bring in the myriad creatures he's brought from Borneo and elsewhere. Meanwhile Yang is being hunted by hounds.

"The Valley of 1000 Deaths" begins as the hounds are replaced by cheetahs who Yang can only evade by running them into a cactus field. Momentarily safe from the hunters Yang ponders his situation being hunted by Yin Li's men. Meanwhile Yin Li continues to solidify her position by killing off more untrustworthy men. She hires three Apache Indians led by Three Arrows to hunt down Yang. These killers though relentless hunters are nonetheless dispatched quickly by Yang when he kicks two of them from a high cliff. He then runs to confront Yin Li, but she is prepared and he is taken prisoner and put into a cage with ferocious Komodo Dragons. Chained Yang is helpless but he soon breaks a chain and battles the giant lizards, and eventually they threaten Yin Li too. Yang sweeps up his beloved and they fight off the dragons, Yin Li shooting her pistol to assist their escape. Outside they share anther kiss before Yang leaves and Yin Li leads her killers in another direction.

"Yin-Yang Mail" features two letters one being somewhat critical of Yang for being too like other martial arts heroes in other comics and the second wanting Charlton to do away with some of its romance books to make room for Sanho Kim's Wrong Country feature. The editors reject both opinions.

This issue has not been reprinted to my knowledge.

This was my very first issue of Yang, and it's a dynamite example of this series. Warren Sattler's artwork always reliable and his wonderfully atmospheric cover for this issue might the best the series ever enjoyed. The death of Chao Ku was a good move for the series, clearing the way for desperately needed character development,but it's strange how this killing of Chao Ku by Yang is so similar to a scene from the previous issue where Chao Ku's fate was left open somewhat. There's no doubt in this issue that Yang kills him though.

In fact Yang is quite bloodthirsty in the series. He shoots a rifle this issue and kills a guard, and just a few issues back he killed a man with a pistol. He also kills the two apaches and various of Yin Li's guards this issue. Yin Li too is given two scenes which serve only to show how ruthless this new "Queen of Evil" will be. This is a surprisingly rugged series when it comes to violence, though Sattler's warm and inviting art style masks over much of that lethal mayhem.

We've moved into the second half of the original Yang run and the series has been solid but a bit static. With the death of Chao Ku, hopefully things will open up a bit.

Much more to come.

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