Thursday, 11 September 2014

Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #1 - Marvel Comics

Admirers of the exploits of Shang Chi, Black Jack Tarr and Leiko Wu from the Doug Moench and Mike Zeck “Master Of Kung Fu” series by “Marvel Comics Group” have had little to get excited about since the son of Fu Manchu’s title was cancelled in the early Eighties with Issue One Hundred and Twenty Five. Somewhat recently however the Huan province-born martial artist has enjoyed something of a popularity revival with regular appearances in the New York City-based publisher’s 2006 "Heroes For Hire" book and the “Marvel NOW!” “Avengers” magazine.

Now though the former British secret agent would seem to have finally been awarded his own solo title once again. But unfortunately this first issue of “Deadly Hands of Kung Fu” does little to capture the creative atmosphere of its predecessor; and the reason why the original comic book was ranked sixth in the “Top Ten 1970’s Marvels” by the website Comics Bulletin.

To begin with it is extremely doubtful that many of the 19,315 fans who bought “The Place Of No Mind” are terribly pleased that this new edition’s Eisner Award-winning cover artist, Dave “The Reverend” Johnson is not responsible for drawing the actual comic itself. Instead that job would appear to have gone to Tan Eng Huat and sadly whilst the Malaysian illustrator is clearly a competent penciller, he is certainly no Paul Gulacy or Gene Day. Indeed as a result of the former “Doom Patrol” artist’s highly individual drawing style many readers probably had to go so far as to skim through this book until they spotted someone referring to Shang Chi by name, before they were certain the Chinese adventurer was actually the lead character… And let us not even talk about Huat’s ghastly looking rendition of Black Jack Tarr.

As far as this comic’s narrative is concerned Mike Benson regrettably does little more than provide an adequate read. Especially upsetting is the American television writer’s tasteless ‘gimmicky’ start, which depicts the death of long-time character Leiko Wu in such an abrupt and grisly manner, that the entire sequence seems to be nothing more than a massively cheap waste of such an important supporting cast member. Admittedly the “rising comic book” star’s early embroilment of (Director) Black Jack Tarr and the villainous Razor Fist so deep within the action-packed plot is very welcome. But overall not even the brief cameos of fan favourites Crossbones, Captain America and The Tigers can save this twenty-page initial instalment from being anything but a bitter disappointment.
Writer: Mike Benson, Pencils: Tan Eng Huat, Inks: Craig Yeung, and Colors: Jesus Aburtov

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