Saturday, January 4, 2014

Tales from the Magazine Bin? - The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #3

Today’s post is going to be on something a little different: a 1970’s comic magazine called The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu. By the way, that is an awesome title. It was a comic book magazine published by Curtis Magazines, a defunct imprint from Marvel. That’s right, folks. Marvel created a magazine dedicated to martial arts. Let’s see if DC has done anything like that! Anyway, it lasted for about 33 issues. I believe this was created in order to cash in on the whole Kung Fu craze during the 70’s. It included stories as well as a few articles. It even included some “how-to” tutorials. Today’s issue is the third issue from August of 1974.

The editorial team for the issue includes a lot of names I know of. The team included names like Roy Thomas, Tony Isabella, Marv Wolfman, Chris Claremont, and John Romita Sr. The cover to this issue is pretty awesome. It’s beautifully done by Neal Adams. The cover shows Jim Kelly and another fighter takin’ it to “The Man.” It also looks like one of the Lone Gunmen from The X-Files made it in. For this, I’ll just browse over the contents since there are two 14-page stories, five articles, and a letters page.

“Under the Pagoda”
It’s basically a one-page article about San Francisco. It’s nothing too special.

Sons of the Tiger in “The Trail of the Ninja!”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artists: Dick Giordano and Frank McLaughlin

The Sons of the Tiger (Lin Sun, Abe Brown, and Bob Diamond) are three martial artists that call up the spirit of the tiger with three Amulets of Power. I’ve never heard of these guys, so this was an okay find. In the story, Lin Sun is tracking down the organization that killed the men’s master, Master Kee… I guess the names “Master Hi,” “Master Lo,” and “Master Doh” were already taken. Abe and Bob left Lin since they have lives to live, but they decide to help out their friend. They find Lin at a warehouse captured. He was captured by Lo Chin who reminds me of David Lo Pan from Big Trouble in Little China. Abe and Bob break in and save Lin. The three fighters call upon the spirits of the tiger and kick some butt. The story ends with Lo Chin escaping.
Lin, I think you killed that guy with your Shuoryuken.

The story is okay. It’s not bad but it’s not great either. The story is a little bland. I will say that the artwork is pretty good. There are a couple of things about it that made me chuckle. Bob was at his apartment with a woman when Abe comes by to get him. It’s a funny scene. Another thing was Lo Chin. He really did remind me of David Lo Pan. He was in a wheelchair and everything. At least he doesn’t have light coming out of his mouth. All he had was a sonic cannon… huh. Overall, it’s an alright story.

Black Belt Jones review by Tony Isabella
Next, Tony Isabella (the creator of Black Lightning) writes a review about the movie Black Belt Jones. It stars Jim Kelly who got his start in the movie, Enter the Dragon. Isabella basically gives the movie a nice talking and even spoils it a bit. The movie is about how Black Belt Jones (Kelly) goes up against the mob in order to save a martial arts school. Now, I’ll get back to Kelly and this movie later on in the month. Overall, the article is quite nice even if it’s a little spoiler-heavy.

"Angela Mao – a New Superstar Rises" by J. David Warner
The next article is about a martial arts actress named Angela Mao. The article mostly talks about her movies. Warner does a small review of her recent movie, Deep Thrust, which isn’t to be confused with a movie called Deep Throat. What’s weirder is that the same production company put these movies out. Lastly, Warner mentions another movie she starred in: Enter the Dragon. I keep coming back to that movie, don’t I? Mao played Lee’s sister in a pretty sad flashback. Overall, the article is quite good and it made me learn about someone I know little about.

Sweep Your Way to Victory: Deashi Herai (Advanced Foot Sweep)
No, this isn’t talking about the art of sweeping floors. This small tutorial teaches one how to “sweep the leg.” Frank McLaughlin, an expert at judo, takes about how to do the move successfully. If you thought the teacher of Cobra-Kai Dojo invented it, you’d be wrong. The article serves as a nice tutorial, nothing more.

"The Dragon Has Entered – Part Two" by Don McGregor
This article is basically a commentary on the movie, Enter the Dragon. It starts at about the time the fighters make it to the island and stops at Lee’s and O’hara’s fight. It pretty much explains that part of the movie in detail and it would be interesting for someone who hasn’t seen the movie much. I didn’t find it all that interesting mostly because I pretty much know the movie from top to bottom.

Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu in “Web of Bleeding Vipers!”
Writer: Doug Moench
Artists: Paul Gulacy and Al Milgrom

The last story is about Shang-Chi, the son of the villain, Fu Manchu. He’s in New York City’s Chinatown. He runs into woman getting chased by men, so he tries to help her out. Unfortunately, he gets over numbered by more henchmen and the two are captured. After the kidnappers reach their destination, Shang-Chi breaks out of his cage and scopes the fortress out. He finds the girl as she is about to be tortured by the leader of the gang who’s named The Adder. Shang- Chi jumps in and starts to kick a lot of butt. He even fights the Asian versions of Thor and the Warriors Three.  After he kills them, he kills the Adder and saves the girl. In a small twist, it’s revealed that the Adder was the girl’s father and that he was going to kill her. The story ends with Shang-Chi thinking about his evil father, Fu Manchu.
I really had to laugh out loud at that middle panel. It's the Chinese Thor and he has his Uru nunchukus!!

This was actually a better read than the first story. It was essentially a standalone story. While Shang-Chi doesn’t speak much, he has a lot of internal dialogue that helps move the story along. The writing is good and the artwork is also good. It had a gritty feel to it. It even had a couple of nice references to other Marvel characters. Overall, I liked the story a lot. I’ll also let you know that this is not the last time you’ll see Shang-Chi this month.

"Enter the Letters"
The last part of the book contains letters from readers of the first issue. Some of them state their opinions on the stories and on the articles themselves. Overall, they’re okay.


Overall, this was a nice find. The stories were cool and the articles were pretty interesting. If I was growing up in the early 70’s, I would probably want to buy this. I haven’t found anymore issues from this series which kind of sucks. Reading these was like looking at a piece of the 70’s itself. If I do find any more of these, I might talk about them. Until then, Peace, God Bless, and “Sweep the Leg!”

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