Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Judomaster - Special War Dispatch Number 11!

Judomaster #98 is dated December 1967. The single credit is the name "McLaughlin" hidden along a rockface on the splash page which features Judomaster holding a flying reptile at bay with a spear while Suzi turns in fear. It's another angle on the cover image by Frank McLaughlin who did this and all the Judomaster covers as far as I can tell. 

"The Isle of Dragons" begins with Rip Jagger being called into the office of General Hawkins where he learns that the Japanese are using some remote and possibly uncharted islands as potential bases. On one island named Tabuki which the natives call "The Isle of Dragons". An airplane photo shows a skeptical Rip that indeed there do seem to be giant reptiles on the island. Judomaster, Tiger, Bushiri, Suzikawa, and other warriors go by submarine to the island and attempt to get on land. They are almost immediately waylaid by natives who tell that the Japanese are indeed contstructing a base and they are making use of the ancient dragons too. The natives guide the group to an ancient city and then leave. Judomaster's team is then assaulted by a giant flying reptile and all seek shelter in a cave when a second dinosaur resembling a Tyrannosaurus Rex appears. But it turns out that in the mad dash for safety that Tiger and Suzi are missing. Judomaster goes out to find them. 

He goes to the city and finds a costumed figure calling himself the "Japanese Sandman" who tells one of his comrades about using his powers to put creatures to sleep to capture both Suzi and Tiger. About that time a giant lizard appears, and Sandman uses his hypnotic power along with tranquiler bullets the Japanese troops fire to subdue and develop a control of the beast. He then makes ready to ready to make Suzi and Tiger the creatures next meal when it awakes. Having seen enough Judomaster attacks, frees his associates and taking guns they head back to the cave. But the encounter the Tyrannosaur again but use their rifles to put it down. Then they gather Bushiri's men and the whole group attack the Japanese troops in the city. Judomaster tracks down the Sandman and avoiding his hypnotic powers eventually defeats the villain. When the Sandman is put out of the way, the monsters which have been in his thrall are released and they demolish the city and the Japanese troops are stunned that their tranquilizers no longer are effective. Using dynamite they brought Judomaster and Tiger blow up the whole shebang and escape. The last scene shows them rafting to the submarine and Tiger reveals that he had substituted regular ammunition for the special tranquilizers the Japanese used thus making the monsters uncontrollable. That scamp. 

Sarge Steel turns up one more time in a story with no credits but clearly drawn by Dick Giordano and scripting attributed at GCD to Steve Skeates. The tale titled "Key West Caper" is File 115. It begins with Sarge coming out of the ocean in full scuba gear onto a deserted beach at night. He thinks back to finding his office ransacked and a note saying that Bessie his secretary had been kidnapped and taken to a location off the Florida Keys. He then gets transportation and gets to the Keys as quickly as he can and arrived at that spot. He is attacked by a guard but subdues him and then recognizes the machine gun the thug used. There is another shot and Sarge kills the sniper but others get the drop on him and take him to a house where Bessie is unconscious on a table. The villains turn out to be Eric Rinn and Roja a man and woman team of baddies who had battled Sarge a few times in his own book and had run an operation named POW. They gloat that they at last have Sarge in this power when Bessie awakes and a fight breaks out. Rinn tries to shoot Sarge who shoots him first making his shot go astray and kill Roja. Bessie grabs up a machine gun and after quick tutelage from Sarge levels the other thugs. Sarge then cradles the overwrought woman in his arms as the story closes. 

"The Power of the Bow" is the text piece in this issue and talks about the impact of the bow and arrow as a weapon in Europe, China and the Americas. This is the last issue in the Charlton Judomaster run.

  But in Captain Atom #89 dated December 1967, Tiger shows up in the Nightshade back-up feature by Steve Skeates and Jim Aparo and in this story set in the modern day he is grown up and had trained Eve Eden the Nightshade some years before when she was a girl of fourteen.

This issue of Judomater was reprinted in the late 70's under the Modern imprint. The Judomaster series showed a remarkable amount of skill and talent on the part of Frank McLaughlin who went on to become one of the great inkers at both Marvel and DC. Dick Giordano who headed up the Sarge Steel back-up feature of course went over to DC and became a major player in comics for many decades to come. Judomaster disappeared.

Even when DC picked up the Charlton Action-Heroes including Judomaster he was barely used. Captain Atom and Blue Beetle got ongoing series as well as stints in the Justice League. The Question had an ongoing of his own for many years. The Peacemaker got a limited series. Even Thunderbolt had a run, though his rights have reverted to the Morisi estate today. Though DC mucked with the heroes they at least used them. That is all of them save Judomaster. He did make cameos here and there and other Judomasters have shown up over the decades, including one who is in the JSA today. 

Rip Jagger and Tiger were the core of the L.A.W. (Living Assault Weapons) limited series by Bob Layton and Dick Giordano along with other Charlton heroes. But likely because of his WWII setting Judomaster never got the push the others did. A stunted version and unrecognizable version of Judomaster did recently appear on the Peacemaker television series. Boy was that weird. 

It's too bad. Rip Jagger is a dandy character. Judomaster battled against the Japanese but alongside other Asians so that the racism that clouded many WWII efforts was undermined. He wore the colors of the Japanese for goshsakes, an image that has always been a bit confusing. But in the end Rip Jagger, the Judomaster was truly an action-hero, a man fighting in what we naively dub the last "good war". 

No more to come. It's been a blast doing this detailed read for two of my all-time favorite series. Tomorrow something completely different.  

NOTE: This is a Dojo Revised Classic Post. 

 Rip Off

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Thunderbolt - Special Case Number 11!

Thunderbolt #60 is dated November, 1967. The new team is in place. Pat Boyette produced the cover image and there's also a new logo for this final issue of the series. It is noted in the letters page that the cover features fewer captions and more action. "When Flies the Dragon" (Special Case Number 0011 for this report's purposes) is written by Sergius O'Shaugnessy (Denny O'Neil moonlighting at Charlton under a pseudonym) with artwork by Pat Boyette. Dick Giordano is listed as the editor. 

The story begins with a quote from the Chinese sage "I Ching" who is shown on the splash page alongside T-Bolt and his opponent. I get the sense that he is the narrator of sorts for the story. The tale begins in an airplane headed from New York for Australia where Peter Cannon is going for a writing job. He is seated to next to an obnoxious "lady's foundation garment" salesman when the plane is suddenly hijacked and they are flown to a remote location in the Australian bush country. There the passengers encounter The Dragon Master who informs them they are all hostages pending the payment of one million dollars and a hydrogen bomb. The unfortunate salesman gets lippy with the Dragon Master who uses his flame-jet gun to slay him. Peter and the rest are taken to a dungeon where Peter becomes Thunderbolt. He slips into the compound and defeats many of the Dragon Master's men before overhearing a radio message directed to New York, a Fu Street, and specifically a place called the "Rooms of Mist". T-Bolt overpowers the operator and sends an S.O.S. He is then confronted by the Dragon Master himself but escapes the fury of his Dragon Gun. An airplane hears the plea for help and wings its way to assist. 

The sound of the coming plane makes the Dragon Master flee in a helicopter as his henchmen scatter. Later in the safety of his hotel room Peter calls Tabu and tells him of his suspicions about Chinatown and the "Rooms of the Mist". Peter returns home to find Tabu missing and a note saying that he had investigated the clue. Peter surmises Tabu has been captured and becomes Thunderbolt again to save him going into Chinatown. He finds Fu Street and soon finds Tabu and his captors and quickly defeats them. Confronting Dragon Master again he and Tabu are captured and imprisoned in a steam room. T-Bolt uses his great will to tear loose steel struts and uses them to bash open the door. He and Tabu escape and T-Bolt races to the roof to confront the Dragon Master again who is once again escaping in a helicopter. T-Bolt breaks loose a television antennae and blocks the rotors, also causing a leak of fuel. Furious the Dragon Master tries to use his Dragon Gun but forgets the fuel and he and his pilot are caught in a fiery explosion. Later Peter and Tabu discuss the case and remember a cryptic comment made by the Dragon Master of one other he'd met who impressed him, and Peter wonders when if ever he might meet this other person similar to himself. "Thunderbolts" offers up six letters this time in a much smaller font that typically used. Two of the letters are filled with praise for the new Boyette artwork and look forward to the changes. Two letters express extreme disappointment that P.A.M. was leaving his creation. One writer gets confused and thinks that O'Shaugnessy had written the previous issue. And one writer wants the Sentinels replaced. Which the editors say they have all ready done.

"The Prankster" is written by Sergius O'Shaugnessy and drawn by Jim Aparo. The editor again is Dick Giordano. Set in the future city of Ultropolis, the Prankster is the enemy of an oppressive state and the the tale begins with him interfering with an execution using a hot air balloon to rescue the unfortunate prisoner. The balloon is high-tech though and moves very quickly. The Prankster leaves the prisoner in the balloon, instructing him how to land it and jumps out, to encounter and defeat two soldiers with laughing gas before making his escape. In the palace of the Tyrant Bane, a Captain Ludovic Wratt makes his report but instead of getting aid from the leader is forced to beg forgiveness from a robotic computer with which Bane has a fetish. Meanwhile the Prankster slips into the underground of the city to meet Hiram Grave a scientist who gives him the technology he uses to battle the government which has outlawed "love, laughter, art...everything that lends dignity to human beings". Grave gives the Prankster a new device, a magic flute but we do not see its secret. The scene shifts to the streets again where a girl has been caught by the police spraying graffiti and the Prankster disguised as an old man intervenes. The story ends as the police hold the girl and the Prankster at gunpoint. The next chapter is advertised as "The Vengeance of Wratt" but it never is fated to appear. 

Once again the great "Action-Heroes? We Got 'Em!!!" ad appears that closes the book on Thunderbolt at Charlton. This is the end of T-Bolt and the end of the Action-Heroes as well. Despite the teases in both the Thunderbolt and Prankster stories we never find out what will happen. The Prankster was a series with potential and Aparo's artwork was typically excellent. The Thunderbolt series under O'Neil was going to be more problematic. Peter changes under O'Neil, becoming more alienated from his role as Thunderbolt. Whereas Morisi has Cannon show reluctance to don the garb, there was never any doubt both Peter and T-Bolt were the same man. With O'Neil there seems to be the idea planted that Peter hates T-Bolt and wants to reject utterly what he represents. It's a more extreme treatment of the ideas that Morisi dealt with more quietly. But it is a treatment that will ultimately require a change of premise. 

But as it turns out it was a moot point. Thunderbolt was a distinctive series, guided by its creator Morisi and assisted mostly by Boyette, the series offered a hero filled mostly with calm, who spoke quietly but always came through. That's a neat counterpoint to the bombast that dominated Marvel at the time. Of all the Action-Heroes T-Bolt has been spared the changes at DC, because of the undeniable fact that Morisi created and maintained some degree of control of the character. Thunderbolt is still what Morisi wanted him to be for the most part, and that's no small accomplishment in the world of comics. 

No more Thunderbolt to come. 

NOTE: This is a Dojo Revised Classic Post. 

 Rip Off

Monday, November 28, 2022

Judomaster - Special War Dispatch Number 10!

Judomaster #97 is dated October 1967. Story and art are credited to Frank McLaughlin. 

The lead story is titled "This One's For Pop!" and begins with Rip Jagger and Tiger heading back to the U.S. and Rip returning to his college alma mater an ivy league school named Bridgeport. Rip takes Tiger into the gym area where he meets up with his old boxing coach Pop McKeon. Soon after a former classmate and now professional boxer Rocky Vars shows up. Rip notices that Pop seems agitated at Rocky's arrival as he and Tiger leave. They later attend a series of matches between Bridgeport and New Haven and it comes down to the final bout featuring Pop's new star Johnny. But after doing very well in the match, Johnny takes a dive to lose the match. Rip goes to see Pop about it but he denies it, and so does Johnny when Rip confronts him. Rip sends Tiger to follow Pop then heads to Pop's home where he meets Joanne McKeon, Pop's daughter who has grown up since Rip left. She leaves to go on a date with Rocky Vars. 

Then Tiger shows up and reports what he has seen following Pop, specifically a meeting with a shadowed figure which confirms that something illicit is going on. Pop shows up at his house and Rip confronts him again and he finally admits that Rocky Vars has been behind the scheme and has threatened Joanne's life. Rip then becomes Judomaster and confronts Rocky and the two put on gloves and have a boxing bout, which goes well enough for Judomaster until Rocky kicks him then Judomater beings to use his other skills and finally knocks out Rocky. Then one of Rocky's henchmen pulls a gun, but Tiger and Johnny appear and soon enough the gang is subdued. Johnny then admits he loves Joanne and the story ends with the lovers kissing and Judomaster and Tiger slipping away out the door. 

Sarge Steel returns in a story written by Steve Skeates, drawn by Dick Giordano and again with A.Machine on letters. The story is title "Case of the Widow's Revenge" and it is File 114. The story begins with a car trying to run down Sarge at a local newsstand but missing and demolishing the newsstand killing the proprietor a blind man we only see in profile named Old Charlie. Sarge then runs down an alley when he hears footsteps and is soon shot at, but he returns fire and kills his attacker. Returning to his car he finds a beautiful woman wrapped in a fur stole waiting for him. She claims to be the niece of Donald Reynolds a man Sarge sent to prison and who died there. His wife is the one behind the attempts on Sarge's life along with his old partner a man named Ralph Gonner. Sarge then goes to Gonner's house and confronts him becomes convinced he's not involved. Returning home he finds a figure in the dark waiting for him, but quickly turning on the lights blinds the person and after a quick exchange of gunfire he finds the girl who turns to be the daughter of Reynolds and not his niece and she is the one behind the plot. She dies in Sarge's arms and he reminds us all what a rotten world it is. 

"Flips and Counters with Judomaster" offers up four letters. There is some discussion of Charlton's cover design specifically the image of Judomater breaking a board which has been an emblem since early in the series. Giordano say he's phasing that out with the next issue. Also of some question are the Japanese characters which are part of the decoration on the top banner of the comic alongside Judomaster's head. Giordano says he's been told by McLaughlin they have something to do with Judo, but he's not sure what exactly. Giordano also speaks to a the question of credits and says flat out that Frank McLaughlin has "written and drawn every issue of JM to date". This seems consistent save for the debut which lists Joe Gill as the scripter. Doubtless McLaughlin plotted that issue also. 

This is a neat little issue. The story gets Judomaster stateside again and if the series had continued, I'm curious how much of his past life we would've eventually have seen. There is the neat notion here that his training as a boxer helped him master his judo skills more quickly perhaps. Because he is the scripter of the debut Joe Gill is almost always mentioned as the co-creator of Judomaster. But it seems pretty obvious that Frank McLaughlin is the guy behind the character through and through. Gill as great as he was, seems to get a bit of glory he doesn't quite deserved in this instance. Below are some original art images from this story. These are the last five pages of the tale.

One more Judomaster to come. 

NOTE: This is a Dojo Revised Classic Post. 

 Rip Off

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Iron Fist - The Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu!

The early 70's was an era of black and white magazine expansion at Marvel. They'd had some success with monsters in titles like Dracula Lives and Tales of the Zombie among others. They'd had a runaway smash hit in Savage Sword of Conan. So it's perfectly logical they'd try out a magzine dedicated to the Kung Fu fad. So was born The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu. In many of the stories from that series Iron Fist played an important role. This volume collects those up plus some other stuff as well. 

From The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu Special Album Edition we get a yarn with teams up in a manner of speaking Shang Chi, The Sons of the Dragon and Iron Fist. Each of the separate heroes gets a story which is part of a larger scheme concocted by Fu Manchu. Chapter one features Iron Fist in a story written by Doug Moench and drawn by martial arts comic legend Frank McLaughlin. Iron Fist is the character at Marvel the most like McLaughlin's Judomaster and these pages evoke that vintage Charlton comics. The second chapter is by Christ Claremont and Herb Trimpe and features the Sons of the Tiger (Lin Su, Bob Diamond, and Abe Brown), and the finale features Shang Chi in a story by Moench and artist Mike Vosburg. John Buscema supplies a page to the front and the back of this story about drug shipments and whatnot. 

The tenth issue of DHoKF features another Iron Fist tale drawn by McLaughlin but this time inked by Rudy Nebres and sadly Nebres rather smothers McLaughlin's work. The story Claremont has Iron Fist fight an early version of the Steel Serpent, yet one more refugee from K'un-L'un. We are also treated to a reprise of Iron Fist's origin story by Moench and artist Don Perlin. This is useful since before Iron Fist's origin has been spread across the first four issues of his adventures. 

No new material inside this reprint annual, but that is a tasty Nick Cardy cover featuring Shang Chi and Iron Fist kicking butt. 

In a story by Bill Mantlo and artists Pat Broderick and Terry Austin Iron Fist actually meets the Sons of the Tiger as they battle a freakish villain named Snake-Eyes who uses his gang to try and steal a radioactive isotope from a hospital. 

Chris Claremont is back to take the writing reins and Rudy Nebres is the artist for what is the beginning of a six-chapter story which has Iron Fist battle for the safety of a young woman named Jade who is set upon by a hostile crowd. 

Over the course of six issues Iron Fist finds love and is drawn into a weird dimension where the dead of K'un-L'un reside. His mission is to save Jade's soul which has been stolen by an evil villain. To do that he must fight relentlessly against many foes including surprisingly his own mother. 

Doug Moench and artist Nebres team up Iron Fist and Shang Chi yet again as they battle against a baddie who is seeking to bring together forces to bring down Fu Manchu. It's all pretty complicated as they are forced to fight against one another in an arena. 

In a story primarily focused on The White Tiger (a hero who combined the amulets worn by the defunct Sons of the Tiger) Iron Fist joins forces with the Tiger as well as Shang Chi and new hero Jack of Hearts to battle the Corporation and its agent Stryke, in a ferocious battle on a ship. Joe Staton handles the artwork on this one with the writing handled by Bill Mantlo. 

The last several stories in this collection feature Iron Fist characters Misty Knight and Colleen Wing, known collectively as Daughters of the Dragon. I took a look at those stories here not that long ago.

This is dandy little read. The core of it is the six-part tale which is not as good as it ought to be. I am a Rudy Nebres fan, but his storytelling was a bit exotic in this story which sprawled across dimensions regularly. The highlights of this collection are the Frank McLaughlin art on Iron Fist, the Joe Staton story (love his art always) and the Daughts of the Knight material.

Rip Off

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Richard Dragon - Coming Of The Dragon!

DC looked upon the Kung Fu craze of the early 1970's and saw that it was good. And then in 1975 when the fad was in retreat, they decided to dive in. Their offering was Richard Dragon Kung-Fu Fighter. This was a series created by Denny O'Neill and in its earliest days was drawn by a wildly disparate range of artists, including the legendary Jack Kirby. 

Richard Dragon though did not come from nowhere. It's source is Kung Fu Master Richard Dragon -Dragon's Fists, a novel written by "Jim Dennis" in 1974. "Jim Dennis" was Denny O'Neill and Jim Berry, a cartoonist famous for his long-running Berry's World feature. 

That novel (more or less) supplied the story for the first four issues of the comic book. The first issue was written by Denny O'Neill. O'Neill wrote all the issues save for a couple during the original run. The first artist to tackle the series was Leo Duranona. We meet Richard Dragon, a spiteful teen-age orphan and thief who is taken in by the martial arts master O-Sensei and another young student named Ben Turner. These two men study under O-Sensei for six years and then are sent off into the world to do good. They encounter an organization named G.O.O.D. (we are never told what that represents) led by a character named Barney Ling. He recruits them to put an end to a white slaver overseas. 

The artists for the second issue are Alan Weiss and Jim Starlin with Carl Potts pitching in. In this tale Richard and Ben encounter a young woman named Carolyn Woosan, who is O-Sensei's goddaughter. She is being pursued by "The Swiss" and international villain who wears only white suits and is particularly vicious. Ben is shot in the leg so it's up to Richard to save Carolyn. 

The third artist to tackle the series in as many issues is Jack "King" Kirby inked by D. Bruce Berry. Somehow or other this book fell into his lap as he was wrapping up his time at DC and was in need of pages to fulfill his contract. In this story we first learn of the jade claw necklace that Richard wears which when stroked the right way gives him extra power. He attacks the Swiss's hideout but fails to save Carolyn or capture he Swiss after a massive explosion. 

In the fourth issue we finally get an art team that will linger for more than one issue. Ric Estrada steps into the position, supplying layouts for Wally Wood and his studio. While Ben Turner recovers from his leg wound Richard once again tracks down the Swiss and attempts to free Carolyn but there is a tragic turn of events. And that wraps up the first saga. 

It is to be noted that Dick Giordano has done all but one cover for the series and they look great. It's truly unfortunate that he or Frank McLaughlin couldn't have been available for the insides of the book at some point. In the fifth issue, the first not to adapt the novel, we meet Carolyn Woosan's sister Sandra who is upset about the fate of her sister. Ben is recovering still and has found some romance at the Dojo. The man who hired the Swiss is named Guano Cravat and he tricks Sandra into fighting Richard under the identity of "Lady Shiva". 

Barney Ling of G.O.O.D. shows up again and employs Richard and Lady Shiva in a mission concerning a nuclear bomb. Barney thinks it's a good idea to drop said bomb into an active volcano. On the same island as the volcano is "Slash" the leader of a gang of pirates who knock down planes with a giant magnet. (Goofy enough for you yet.) Despite all this madness Richard and Shiva survive. 

Ben is still on the mend. (Actually, he seems to have taken a backslide since he's on crutches again.) So once again he is sidelined while Richard and Shiva take on Guano Cravat and his new partner Dr. Moon who supplies him with super-powerful henchmen. 

Slash is back and he schemes to trap Lady Shiva and Richard in a trap which will blind them, making them open to his attacks. But Richard is able to tap into the O-Sensei's training which included dealing with the loss of the senses. Despite my adoration of Wally Wood, I must say the inking in these last several issues has been sleek but uninteresting. There has been little depth to the art. 

That changes in the ninth issues which sees Ric Estada come out in a blaze of glory doing both pencils and inks. This might be my favorite issue so far, largely due to Estrada's extremely energetic artwork. In this one Richard, a recovered Ben and Shiva investigate a strange villain who dubs himself "The Preying Mantis". 

Alas, the art takes a slide back when Jack Abel joins up as inker. In a strange story in which Ben gets some land deep in logging territory, he and the gang come up against a baddie named "Hatchett" who does his best to chop up our heroes to keep them from claiming the land. Ben meets up with his nephew who has lost his mother thanks to Hatchett and his gang. Richard is hurt when he is forced to run through some fire. 

The next issue begins with Richard in the hospital when a Samurai attacks Ben for reasons unknown. This issue was guest-edited by Gerry Conway and scripted by David Anthony Kraft, who will also write the next issue. The trio head to Barney Ling for answers and are sent to China to stop a scheme called "Moonage Daydream". There is much intrigue and betrayal as the trio parachute into China and weirdly find themselves fighting a samurai. 

Under a cover by Jose Delbo, we get the end of the China story. Jack Abel is still inking Estrada's pencils with diminishing effects. Our heroes encounter a villain named Madame Sun and an unreliable agent named Blodwyn. In a story which seems to ramble along and then wrap up with incredible speed, they bring down the plot and save the day. Ben alas after all this still doesn't know who is trying to kill him. 

Ernie Chan and Vince Colletta gives us the next cover. Inside Ric Estrada is unleashed again and the art looks wonderful. Ben is gunned down at the opening of the story and will spend the next several issues recovering from that. O'Neill seems intent on keeping Ben Turner out of the mainstream of the adventures, preferring to have Lady Shiva be Richard Dragon's partner. Ben has been poisoned and the source seems to be a chap named Viper who is hidden in Mongolia. Using the resources of G.O.O.D. Shiva and Richard head there and fight furiously but with little effect. 

Then in a bit of cross-promotion The Brave and Bold gives us a teaming of Batman and Richard Dragon by Bob Haney and Jim Aparo. In this one an assassin named "The Stylist" is after Richard on the behalf of a villain who is scheming to keep a fortune which he imagines might be willed to Richard by an eccentric billionaire Richard assisted a year before. This is not one of Haney's better efforts but Aparo's art always looks magnificent. 

Rich Buckler is the cover artist in the next regular issue (and the next one as well) in which Richard Dragon must battle a man who claims to have been trained by Bruce Lee. It's 1977 and this martial arts comic is finally getting around to referencing the source of the Kung Fu fad who had died four years before. After much bumbling around Ben is saved from the poison. 

The Axeman cometh in a story which sees Ben Turner seek the hand of a lovely young woman we've seen just once before I think named Janey. During an attack on Janey's Dad she is killed and Ben swears vengeance. Ben and Richard go Ninja to try and stop the theft of a submarine which might be linked to the attack and learned startling news about who was behind the attack. Estrada is still unrestrained and the book is looking excellent at this point. 

Al Milgrom steps into supply the next two covers for the series. Richard and Ben and Lady Shiva head to the Arctic to try and capture the villains who have stolen a submarine. We meet the leader of our gang of miscreants who goes by the name of "Professor Ojo" and who wears a stupid looking hat he calls the "Orb-Helmet". 

Our team battle ferocious Killer Eskimos and other villains. They are set upon by a hailstorm of knives directed by magnetic power which Professor Ojo controls. In the end they end a world threat to shipping but the villains escape. Ben stays behind to look for the killers of his beloved Janey. Richard and Shiva return to NYC. 

In the final issue of the run, sporting a cover by Rich Buckler we see that Ben Turner is captured by the villainous Professor Ojo but then seemingly killed when the Arctic base explodes. Richard is distraught and falls apart in the months which follow over the loss of his friend. He eventually enters a martial arts tournament which has some unsavory aspects and encounters a fighter named the Bronze Tiger. It will come as a shock to no one that the Bronze Tiger is Ben who has been brainwashed since falling into the hands of the ultimate villain, the man who has been trying to kill him all along. But the series comes to an abrupt halt, and that mystery will have to linger. 

Then in 1981, nearly three years after the last issue of Richard Dragon Kung Fu Fighter we find out what happed in a series titled appropriately enough "Whatever Happened To,,," which appeared in the back pages of DC Comics Presents. In issue thiry-nine of that comic in a story by Mike Barr and Alex Saviuk, we find out that Barney Ling was the man behind the curtain all along and had been using Bronze Tiger for his own purposes. Apparently G.O.O.D. didn't live up to it's anagram. 

Richard Dragon Kung Fu Fighter is a breezy read which gives some mild attention to the details of martial arts. What we really have is a character who seems to know anything he needs to know whenever he needs to know it. It serves the purposes of the plot but does make a mangle of the martial arts aspect of the series. I do love the partnership between Richard and Lady Shiva, who fight together many more times than do Richard and Ben. After introducing him, O'Neill seems to want to get Ben off stage as quickly as possible in most stories. He comes back in the last several issues of the run, but with mixed effect. I'm used to series from the Bronze Age to have a feeling of haphazardness in plotting and direction, but that's usually because of changes in the creative team. Aside from two issues O'Neill writes them all and after the first three Ric Estrada draws them all, but the direction of the series still feels wobbly. It was strange to read a novel adaptation which was drawn by four different talents.  I do enjoy Estrada's artwork though, especially when he inks himself, the high point of the series for this reader. 

Rip Off