Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Richard Dragon, Kung Fu Fighter

Late to the game as usual, Richard Dragon was DC's entry into the Bronze Age Kung Fu craze. He was adapted by Denny O' Neill from his and Jim Berry's chop socky novel Dragon's Fists, and once you got past the fact that he was nowhere near as cool as Iron Fist, his was a solid series.
It did have some problems though. For most of the run, the art team was Ric Estrada and Wally Wood, which at any other time would be fine and dandy. But though obviously capable of doing great fight scenes, neither man really had a feel for Kung Fu moves, certainly not like Dick Giordano who did a lot of the fantastic covers.

A better team was Alan Weiss, Jim Starlin and Al Milgrom on the 2nd issue, most of whom were into Kung Fu at the time, and could draw those specific moves, giving you that extra edge of realism.
Richard Dragon himself was a sneak thief with a dodgy past, who was taken in by the wise Kung Fu Master O-Sensei, and trained alongside black blood brother Benjamin.
Occasionally, Richard & Benjamin fight for the shady kingpin Barney Ling, and his ultra-secret organization G.O.O.D. who are so secret they have a building with their name on it in mile high lettering.

And there are bizarre moments of parody, like here, where a henchman is not just happy, but actually eager to give out information.

Truthfully, Richard is a bit of a personality free zone, letting events move him rather than taking charge, and you do feel you're missing bits that were in the original novel, particularly anything to do with his background or motivations.
But what you do get, particularly in the first few issues that adapt the book, is total pulp movie chop socky action, bared to the absolute bone.
Why the villains do what they do is irrelevant, they're just evil because they are, and characterization and plot are almost non-existent. All that matters is you get a bone-crunching fight scene every 20 seconds. Here's that 2nd issue, don't worry about picking up the story, just enjoy the action.


  1. While the Estrada/Wood material wasn't the greatest for a martial arts series -- Marvel had DC very beat in that department -- it was still fun to see. When Lady Shiva appeared, that's when the Wood inks really met the task. :)

  2. Howdy! Love the cover to your blog! I know I had that one! Action # ??? Cheers!

  3. Action #425, Charlie, one of my faves - welcome over from Steveo's blog!

  4. And yeah, Lady Shiva was great!

  5. What are the chances of a trade paperback?

  6. Yeah, I'm surprised there isn't one, as nearly everything else is reprinted these days. Mind you, you could probably get the original issues fairly cheaply too.