DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL
Richard Dragon, Kung-Fu Fighter #10
Published monthly, thirty cents, July
Cover artist: Dick Giordano
Editor: Dennis O’Neil
During the early to mid-1970s everybody was kung-fu fighting. The craze was fast as lightning. Both DC and Marvel jumped on the bandwagon – Marvel with its excellent Hands of Shang Chi, Master of Kung-Fu (which actually began as Marvel Special Edition #15 from December 1973) and its various spin-offs (Giant Size …) and magazines; and Iron Fist, martial arts set firmly in the superhero mode.
Although a little slow to catch on to the craze, DC Comics jumped in with Richard Dragon, Kung-Fu Fighter. The character debuted in the 1974 novel “Dragon’s Fists” by Denny O’Neal and Jim Berry.
They adapted the character into the comic book. The first issue was dated May 1975. Richard Dragon was a thief caught burglarizing a dojo. Its sensei trained him to use his talents for good. Literally, GOOD (the Global Organization of Organized Defense). Good group, bad anagram.
The comic ran for 18 issues through December 1977 and for a time was published monthly. In 1976 DC continued the craze with Karate Kid – martial arts set firmly in the superhero mode. Karate Kid’s Bicentennial issue (#3) has already been reviewed…
By the time Richard Dragon, Kung-Fu Fighter ended, so had the Kung Fu craze. Good thing, too, I suppose: it was a little bit frightening…
“The Human Inferno”, Denny O-Neil ( w ), Ric Estrada and Jack Abel (a)
The letter column admits this is a fill-in issue. This is one of the four Bicentennial issues I owned when they were new on the stands.
Ben Turner (who would eventually become the Bronze Tiger) inherits a thousand acres of timber land. The lumberjack foreman is a murderous brute named Hatchett and vows to kill this new owner, as he did the previous owners, lest he cut into the lumberjack’s vast profits!
Richard, Ben and Lady Shiva travel to the property and are promptly attacked by lumberjacks. Dispatching them, Ben meets his namesake nephew, who has been in hiding since Hatchett murdered his parents.
Again attacked that night in their hotel, the quartet go to Hatchett for the final face-off. Our heroes make it to a log cabin which is set ablaze by the loggers. Ben, Benjamin and Shiva go through the front door to face a chainsaw-wielding maniac while Richard, badly burned, battles Hatchett.
The Dojo: letters answered (presumably) by Assistant Editors Jack C. Harris and Bob Rozakis. Letters by Bart Casey of Dayton, Ohio (very positive), Jim Humm of El Monte, CA (asking if Richard Dragon exists on the same earth as Superman and Batman – yes) and Judy Newton of Thompkinsville, RI (praising Shiva as a more liberated woman than Wonder Woman). Texts introduce us to Jack Abel and tells us that this is Denny O’Neil’s last issue as editor – Gerry Conway will be handling the editorial chores (at least for the next issue) and the writing will be taken over by David Anthony Kraft.
Join me next time for DC’s Bicentennial issue #25: Blackhawk #247
Original Material copyright 2015 Michael Curry
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