Haven't posted a comic blog entry in some time, so... Here's another of the Legion of Super-Heroes
classic comics, this time out another issue of the Karate Kid
series. Enjoy! :)
Karate Kid Vol 1 #13
(March-April) April, 1978
“Tomorrow’s Battle... Yesterday!”
Writer: Bob Rozakis
Penciller: Juan Ortiz
Inker: Bop McLeod
Letterer: Milton Snapinn
Colourist: Anthony Tollin
Cover: Rich Buckler (pencils) and Bob McLeod (inks) (signed)
Editor: Allen Milgrom
Mission Monitor Board:
Lightning Lad, Sun Boy, Superboy, Colossal Boy, Saturn Girl, Chameleon Boy, Cosmic Boy
Major Disaster; The Lord of Time; Diamondeth (cameo)Synopsis:
This story continues from where the previous issue left off. In the false Smallville constructed by Superboy where Karate Kid has the Teen of Steel in a vicelike grip, Lightning Lad tells the Kid to release Superboy or they'll take him apart. Karate Kid tries to tell him that this is a fake Superboy, but Lightning Lad blast him with a bolt of electricity. Fortunately, Karate Kid has Superboy as a shield, so is unharmed. However, when Sun Boy adds his heat attack to the mix, Karate Kid finds Superboy getting too hot to handle. He uses a maneuver he learned on the planet of Parikan and sends Superboy spinning like a top, knocking the Legionnaires down like ten pins. As Karate Kid uses the distraction to get away, he is grabbed by the leg by the giant Colossal Boy. He kicks Colossal Boy in the face, sending the giant Legionnaire down and reeling. When Lightning Lad fires another bolt at him, Karate Kid dodges, and the bolt strikes Saturn Girl, much to Lightning Lad's anguish. Chameleon Boy grabs Karate Kid in a straitjacket-like grip, but the Kid is able to break free, barely. He thinks he’s doing a great job against the Legionnaires, but can't figure out why Major Disaster used these fakes - heck, they’re even wearing the old costumes. Karate Kid demands answers of the Legionnaires, but they greet him with a metal "body prison" fashioned by Sun Boy and Cosmic Boy. Cosmic Boy polarizes Karate Kid's body, and the metal prison is attracted to him, and seals him up. When Karate Kid says that they now plan to kill him, Cosmic Boy is shocked as that goes against the Legion code. Karate Kid is surprised by this, and when the Legionnaires ask why he attacked Superboy, learn that he claims to be a member of the Legion. Saturn Girl confirms this telepathically, and the fact that he will be a Legionnaire in their future. Superboy frees the Kid from the "body prison," and Karate Kid realizes they truly *are* the Legion and that Superboy is the real mccoy. They compare notes and realize that Karate Kid was taken off the streets of New York, 1977, while the Legionnaires were grabbed from their headquarters during a Legion meeting.
Elsewhere in their secret base, Major Disaster's partner says it’s most unfortunate that the heroes have discovered the truth before any of them died, and his partner is revealed as The Lord of Time, who was responsible for transporting Karate Kid and the Legionnaires through time to Superboy's period. However, they have a multi-faceted plan, and Major Disaster puts it into motion.
Back in the false Smallville, Superboy's super-hearing picks up three distress signals. A tornado of fire is sweeping Metropolis, it's hailing boulders in Midvale, and a volcano has erupted in Smallville, spewing forth a flood of water. The Legionnaires split into three teams to handle the disasters, while Karate Kid and Saturn Girl make up a fourth team to find the source of them (aka Major Disaster). As Saturn Girl and Karate Kid take to the air via her flight belt, Karate Kid thanks her for bailing him out with the Legionnaires, but she replies that's what the Legion is all about. Her mind probe of him told her everything she needed to know, including why they've got to home in on Major Disaster.
In Midvale, the team of Superboy and Cosmic Boy work together on the hail of boulders. Superboy smashes a few of them and Cosmic Boy repels some more of them, but that's not a real solution. Superboy uses his super-cape, hooking it to the four corners of the town, and creates the world’s largest umbrella to shield the town from the boulders. In Metropolis, Lightning Lad's electrical bolts prove ineffective against the fiery tornado, but Chameleon Boy's switch to Chameleon fan gives Lightning Lad an idea. He has Chameleon Boy use the fan to blow the tornado out over the harbour and into the water, turning it to a cloud of steam. In Smallville, Colossal Boy works to save people threatened by the flood, telling them that they're pinch-hitting for Superboy, while Sun Boy tries to ineffectively transform the water at the volcano site into steam, but having little luck containing it. He has Colossal Boy make like the little Dutch boy, using his fist to plug the volcano, and then he proceeds to melt the base of it, turning it into a permanent plug.
Meanwhile, at S.T.A.R. Labs test facility in New York, Iris Jacobs receives another injection of a hydrocarbon serum to see if it's possible to adapt the human body to the increasing amounts of pollution in the atmosphere. She tells him that when she volunteered for the "adaptability" study, she didn't know it would be such a painful experience (due to all the injections). As she goes to bed that night in the lab, Iris hopes that Karate Kid will understand why she did this, so as to prove herself worthier than Princess Projectra. As she sleeps, Iris is struck by an energy beam that penetrates her body, radically changing the effects of the hydrocarbon serum...
Elsewhere, Karate Kid and Saturn Girl track down Major Disaster and the Lord of Time, the Kid busting into their secret base. Dodging the Lord of Time's blaster fire, the Kid strikes him hard, and takes him down. He also takes Major Diaster out with a single martial art boot to the face. He tells Saturn Girl that the machinery around them must be responsible for the various disasters, but rather than turn them off, the Kid destroys them utterly. The Legionnaires arrive to find the matter seemingly well in hand, but the Lord of Time was merely stunned. He transports the Legionnaires back to their proper place in the timestream, and before Karate Kid can strike him again, sends him back to 1977 New York. As Superboy lunges for him, the Lord of Time and Major Disaster depart as well, the former not wishing to outstay his welcome.
Elsewhere, back in 20th Century New York, Karate Kid appears on the street to find a scene of disaster. There is a creature going berserk, attacking everything in sight. It is Iris Jacobs, her body now made of solid diamond! The story continues in the next issue.Commentary:
This issue continues from the previous tale, and is a pretty good story on the part of writer Bob Rozakis. The story starts with action, then has more action, and then finishes with a relatively simple denouement that ends with a danger from a most unexpected source back in the 20th Century. The writing is pretty good on the author’s part, right down to some of the humour and puns the 1960's Legionnaires used to make while on missions. The scene breakdowns are quite good, and move the story along, though I thought the fight sequence with Karate Kid vs. the Legionnaires was perhaps a bit long in the tooth. Once again, the Kid is able to use non-powered martial arts to fight the Legionnaires effectively until the end of the sequence, but that seems to be a bit of a return to a more Jim Shooter-ish faithful use of the Karate Kid character. Loose ends are somewhat tied up, notably the Legionnaires being returned to their own time with no memory of the events they just experienced, and the story comes to a natural conclusion, though it seems that Major Disaster and the Lord of Time are not finished with the Kid yet.
The story begins as one would expect, with Karate Kid facing off against the Legionnaires, and while he manages to hold his own (he's held his own against Superboy for the last issue, too!) eventually the Legionnaires get the better of him. The revelation that these are not a fake Superboy and Legionnaires, but rather from a time in the past before Karate Kid became a member of the Legion is no surprise to most readers (or perhaps it was, but not to me on my first reading). I had actually thought that Karate Kid would have figured it out, but he seems to have been too focused on Major Disaster being responsible for what had been happening, though perhaps that made sense to the character at the time. Once Saturn Girl has cleared up the confusion, author Rozakis keeps the action coming with the three disasters. This is quite fitting for the Legion style and feel of this period, and with the sheer number of Legionnaires in the story it made sense to split them up.
The revelation of Major Disaster's partner-in-crime, the Lord of Time, comes at this point and is one that answers several questions about how Major Disaster has been able to temporally shift Karate Kid and where he's been getting his super-advanced technology. That said, this is not their story, and both Major Disaster and the Lord of Time play very minor roles in the story and are not developed as villains, per sé, though it seems they both escape Superboy and the Legionnaires at the end of the story.
Karate Kid's return to the 20th Century to find that Iris Jacobs is now villainous and dangerous in nature, makes for a great cliffhanger to the issue. On the subject of Iris Jacobs, the character has been somewhat boring and predictable (too "stale and crummy," as noted in a letter in this issue), but that is about to change. Iris's motivation for becoming a S.T.A.R. Labs test subject was a bit iffy to begin with, but I suppose love does make people do strange and dangerous things at times. We'll just have to wait and see where this leads.
The artwork this issue, by penciller Juan Ortiz and inker Boy McLeod, is quite good. Their style together reminds me somewhat of a modern Curt Swan, though the sharpness of some of the pencil lines and the inking is not quite of Swan level. The action scenes (and there are quite a few of them here) are very well rendered, with a sense of motion and vitality given to them all. All the "sound effects" of noises and action effects are rendered in large red or purple letters, and make them stand out on the page. There are backgrounds in pretty much every panel, a credit to penciller Ortiz, and these gave the story more appeal for me as a reader.
Overall, this was a good issue of Karate Kid's own title, one of the best of the series so far, and gave the reader a little bit of everything, with a good cliffhanger to whet the appetite.Final Notes:
It is never stated when the Legionnaires who show up in this story are from. The fact that they do not know who Karate Kid is and that they wear their 1960's costumes means the Legionnaires come from before Adventure Comics
Vol 1 #346, in which Karate Kid joined the Legion. However, the fact that they use flight belts, rather than the later flight rings, means that the story definitely takes place before the events of Adventure Comics
Vol 1 #329, when the flight ring made its debut...
While Lightning Lad is giving the orders, either Cosmic Boy or Saturn Girl would have been the Legion Leader at this time. However, since there's no specific clue given in the story as to when the Legionnaires were plucked out of time by the Lord of Time, we may never know for sure. (But see the previous notation.)...
The Lord of Time is a Justice League of America villain who made his first appearance in Justice League of America
Vol 1 #11 and then reappeared in issue #50...
Karate Kid's last encounter with Major Disaster came in Karate Kid
Vol 1 #11.
Next Issue: Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes
Vol 1 #238