Next up for this butt-kicking month, I got a DC character who I really don’t know about: Richard Dragon. Like most martial arts characters, he originated out of the kung fu craze from the 1970’s. He first appeared in a novel written by Denny O’Neil and Jim Berry in 1974. O’Neil later adapted the character in his own series, Richard Dragon: Kung Fu Fighter. The guy’s supposed to have trained most heroes and villains in the DCU. Other than his series and a couple of other spots, he really hasn’t been seen all that much. No wonder I haven’t heard much about him. I probably know more about The Bronze Tiger, his former partner in butt-kicking.
In 2004, there was a short-lived series that featured the character. I found Richard Dragon #5 in the cheap bins some time ago. I was going to look at that issue until I found the first issue to this series in Murfreesboro a couple of weeks ago. The writer is Chuck Dixon. I think I’m beginning to see a pattern with Dixon and characters that practice martial arts. The pencils were done by Scott McDaniel and the inks were handled by Andy Owens.
Richard Dragon #1
Writer: Chuck Dixon
Pencils: Scott McDaniel
Inks: Andy Owens
Colors: Tony Auina
Letters: Phil Balsman
Editor: Michael Wright
“Enter The Dragon Part 1”
The issues starts out with Matt Murdock… oh wait, Richard Dragon (they both got red hair and fight a lot) is in a illegal fight to the death. He’s fighting blindfolded because the promoter wants to make it hard for him. Still, this doesn’t stop Richard. During the fight, he thinks about all of the things he suffered as a child and that fuels him on. He ends up killing one guy and breaking the other guy’s arm. Everybody looks on him a bit weirdly after that. Even the people who rooted for him are aghast.
Hmm... is that Matt Murdock?!?!?
In the back, Richard gets paid for his win. We then get introduced to an old friend of Richard’s: Ben Turner, The Bronze Tiger. He too is shocked by Richard’s new life. We then find out why Richard has basically fallen on dark times: Lady Shiva, another martial artist. Even mentioning her name sets Richard off and the two almost fight. We find out why Ben has come to look for Richard. It turns out that a group of assassins called the Circle of Six has come to America. The group is trying to take over the Triads in America.
All right, Ben! Beat some sense into Dour-Man over there!
Ben wants Richard to help out with these assassins because he has faced these people before and he knows their styles. Richard wants no part of it. Ben then decides to fight his old friend in a match. The two go at it and the fight eventually spills into the tournament space. Richard may be a better fighter, but Ben is able to get him down. Eventually, Richard decides to go with Ben but he know that something is up. It turns out there’s another reason Ben has sought out Richard. It turns out that Shiva is involved with the group. The issue ends with Lady Shiva looking at the two on a rooftop.
I though this issue was okay. The story isn’t bad but it does feel pretty light. I know we’re in the age of decompression, but even then it felt thin when compared to other issues from this time. I really didn’t learn anything about Richard here. All we got were hints that something bad happened and that he’s on hard times. If this was your first look at the character, you’d be wondering who the really grim red-head is. Still I do enjoy the story since we get some Bronze Tiger action here and we get a hint of big things happening.
I’m a little mixed on the artwork. I’ve never been that big a fan of Scott McDaniel’s art. It just never appealed to me. I guess I don’t like the stylized looks of everyone. That being said, the action flowed really well. It was pretty exciting for the most part. Even the quieter moments worked were fine for me. Overall, this was an okay outing for this lesser known character. I am curious on how this series was, so I might keep an eye out for the rest. Well, I’m going to wait for this snow to melt and really “Netflix and chill.” Peace and God Bless.