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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Tales from the 50 Cent Bin! - Bruce Lee #1

A Bruce Lee comic book from the 90’s… Sometimes, life is good. For my last comic in this themed month, I’ll be looking Bruce Lee #1 from Malibu Comics. What’s Malibu Comics, you ask? Well, I’d tell but then I would have to show you this piece of “WTH.” To make a long story short, they were a comics company created in the late 80’s. They got a little popular in the 90’s with books such as Ultraforce and… Ultraforce? Anyway, they also had licenses to properties like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter. I’ll get to their Mortal Kombat series one of these days. The company was bought out by Marvel when comics sales declined in the mid-90’s.

During their stint, they acquired the rights to do a six-issue Bruce Lee miniseries. I found the first issue in a 50 cent bin somewhere and I knew I was going to get it. I’ve seen the rest of the issues online, but I’m not spending more than a dollar on those issues. It’s definitely something that I look out for at shops. The writer of the first issue and series is Mike Baron who’s worked on books like the Punisher, The Flash, and Nexus. The artist is Val Mayerick and he was one of the creators of the Marvel character, Howard the Duck. Wikipedia had good things to say about this mini-series, so let’s see if they’re right about the first issue.

Bruce Lee #1
Writer: Mike Baron
Artist: Val Mayerick
Inker: James Sherman
Letterer:  Tim Eldred
Color Design: Rick Schmitz
Color Separations: ‘Bu Tones
Editor:  Mark Paniccia
Assoc. Editor: Kara Lamb

"One Inch Punch"
We start out at a martial arts competition where Arnold Schwarzenegger is kicking the crap out of his opponent… well, he looks like the former governor of California. T.J. Bryce, the Arnold look-a-like, finishes his fight. The book then starts to glow as Ace Zeppelin (as played by the 80’s Chuck Norris) fights in a match and kicks someone else’s butt. After his match, we find out that ‘ole Ace is a bit of a douche. Outside, we see Lee as he is doing a demonstration of his style on two idiots. The first thing you’ll notice about Lee is that cape on his hair. Yes, I believe that’s a mullet.  I think the book just decreased in quality now. Lee does his stuff, but Ace ain’t impressed by his one-inch punch.
I bet Ace is also wondering why Lee has that "awesome" mullet.

The next day, Lee is at his house with two students, Stickman and Sheldon. Man, I hate those names. How about Zack and Billy instead? Those names make more sense with these guys. The three talk about finding a bigger place to train when Copper Penny pulls up on her motorcycle. She tells him of a place where they can open up a Jeet Kune Do school. Lee and Copper check the place out and they find out that Ace’s martial arts school is in the area. At that moment, we see Bryce throw a guy (Lorenzo) out of Ace’s school. Let’s just say that Lorenzo gets… Terminated? Total Recalled? Jingled all the way? Take your pick.
Two things:
Lee can look into your soul!!!
That middle panel is what started the Power Ranger references.

Over time, Lee and his students are able to fix up the place and start training. I also see that Lee has gotten Angel Grove’s finest to train. No wonder they kick so much butt every Saturday. Ace and his guys see everyone having fun, so they come out to break it up. Lee and Ace get into a little fight but it ends as it begins and everyone goes back to their respective schools. Later, Lee and Stickman head to a bar where they run into Lorenzo. Lee sparks up a conversation and finds out that Ace supplies performance-enhancing drugs to fighters. Hmm… 90’s Chuck would be so ashamed of 80’s Chuck…

When two men with bad hair-dos get into a fight, the fighter with the worst one will always lose!

The next day, T.J. comes over to Lee’s school and starts to beat folk up. Lee ends up fighting the butthead and pretty much beats him with extreme awesomeness. Sheldon even gets the fight on tape. At Ace’s school, T.J. licks his wounds while Ace comes up with a plan to get rid of the “Asian Sensation.” The next day, Lee goes for a jog and finds Stickman waiting for him at the school. While he wants to train for a tournament, Stickman is also trying to cosplay as the 70’s Luke Cage with that yellow shirt and blue jeans.  The issue ends when the two enter the school and find Lorenzo dead and with a syringe.
"Oh man?" More like "Sweet Christmas!" All he's missing is the tiara!

.............................................................

This is an okay read. It’s not great by any means, but it is an entertaining issue. The story is pretty simple with Lee starting a school and facing opposition from Ace. We get introduced to characters that I believe appear throughout the mini-series. It reads pretty decently and the dialogue isn’t that bad.  I did think that the names were pretty weird. When there’s someone named Copper Penny in your book, you know you can't take it too seriously. I also don’t like that they tried to make Stickman sound all hip with the Ebonics. All black people don’t talk like that, you know what I’m sayin’, homeboy?

The artwork was pretty good for the most part. The fight scenes look pretty good. I also liked that we get to see some celebrity-referenced artwork here. It’s not every day that we see Bruce Lee fight Chuck Norris and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Of course, Lee’s mullet is a bit of a turn-off. Maybe they wanted  him to look hip or they had to change Lee’s look for legal reasons. Even the Arnold look-a-like has a long ponytail in the back. Man, you know this is a comic book from the 90’s. Even with those outdated things, the artwork’s okay.

Overall, it’s an entertaining read. I only wish I could find the rest of the mini-series for a cheap price. I’ll figure something out one day. Well, it’s time to move on to something that’s full of kung fu, philosophy, overly religious overtones, and a machine empire. Peace and God Bless.

NEXT TIME: "WHAT IS THE MATRIX?"

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