Monday, August 19, 2019

Karate Kid #12

Karate Kid #12 
"The 'Time' of Your Death!"
script by Bob Rozakis
art by Juan Ortiz and Bob McLeod
lettered by Milt Snapinn
colored by Anthony Tollin
edited by Al Milgrom
cover by Rich Buckler (penciller) and Jack Abel (inker)
cover date: Feb/March 1978
review by Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage
dedicated affectionately to Glenn "Continuity Kid" Walker

Well even though this issue starts, literally one moment after the end of last issue, we are in a very different 1977 New York City, folks. Not only do we have a new cover logo (did you notice?) but we have a brand new creative team. New writer Bob Rozakis kicks the story off with a bang, and new artists Juan Ortiz and Bob McLeod hand in a more-than-capable job. The cover this time is by Rich Buckler, who was doing a lot of DC covers at around this time.

Clearly DC was trying to sell this book as a super-hero book and not as a karate or kung-fu tie-in. And you know what? It worked, because this is the first issue of Karate Kid that I actually bought off the stands!  I got it because of the Legion and because of the art inside.
Right from the very top of the very first page, DC is selling its "new direction" for their hero. Bob Rozakis was a long-time DC writer and editor's assistant, who was a major creative force at DC during the late '70s. He wrote Freedom Fighters, the Teen Titans, and several stories for several issues of Batman Family, for example. Due to the eventual fates of all of those titles his being put on a book was clearly not a good sign, but at this point he had not quite morphed into the Kiss of Death. Some people don't like his style but personally his stories always seemed straight forward and, dare I say it, fun.
As for the artists, Juan Ortiz was one of my favorites at this time in the late 1970s. He did several Batman Family stories and one of my favorite JLA stories at this time, JLA #157. He left comics in late 1979. And of course, Bob McLeod is very well known for his work at both DC and Marvel.

A moment after the last panel of last issue, after Karate Kid has returned to 1978 after battling Major Disaster back in the pre-historic past, he is blasted by an energy bolt and disappears. Unfortunately, his friend Iris doesn't notice this, so she goes on to her initial destination none the wiser: STAR Labs Test Center.

Meanwhile, Karate Kid has been time-shifted. He re-appears in what he thinks is Smallville while it is undergoing an earthquake. A building begins to collapse, but he manages to not be under it when it falls. THAT would have ended the story prematurely, huh? As there are no people around, Karate Kid thinks that he has been plopped down into another of Major Disaster's test facilities. He heads to the outskirts of town to "get out" of the test site. However, once he reaches the city limits he doesn't find walls of any kind. Instead, he sees the true cause of the earlier earthquake: Superboy!?

Karate Kid thinks Superboy has gone nuts, so he attacks him to get his attention and to stop the destruction. As opposed to, say, running up to him and saying, "Yo, Superboy, what the hell are you doing!?!" Superboy, of course, doesn't recognize Karate Kid but does know when he gets a boot in the face, so he fights back. As he struggles to not get captured, Karate Kid tries to figure out why Superboy doesn't know him and why he is destroying Smallville. At this point it might be because the Kid just didn't say hello, you know?

During the fighting Rozakis and Ortiz introduces a nice touch: Karate Kid's Interplanetary Fighting Techniques. This is just a side-bar outside of the story that explains how Karate Kid is fighting. In this case it's a simple "Karate Kid throws a rock" technique, but it is still a nice touch. I wonder how many kids out there learned how to propel rocks faster and with more accuracy after reading this?

This sequence leads to another nice one immediately afterwards, where we are privy to Karate Kid's anxiety about facing off against the Boy of Steel. I think it's clever that the Kid grabbed a rock with lead in it and then dived into a lead-lined hole to hide. Smart boy, that Val Armorr.

Back in our present, Iris is fast-tracked to be interviewed at STAR Labs for a special test. She wants to prove to Karate Kid that she has what it takes in comparison to his girl-friend, Princess Projectra. Ominously, she is approved to move forward in the test process....!

Back in the past, Superboy works around Karate Kid's hiding in a lead hole by a. using his super-hearing to hear Karate Kid's heart-beat (clever!) and b. flying high enough to clearly see him from the bird's eye view.  There's a reason he's the world's greatest super-hero, people.

Karate Kid then starts to goad Superboy to get him angrier and angrier so that he would be easier to defeat. Uh...good luck with that, Kid. After getting wrapped up in his own cape Superboy gets so angry that he flings the Legionnaire back into Smallville. Karate Kid manages to not get smashed against the wall of a barn, and then realizes that it, and the entire area, is in fact fake! Now he thinks that Superboy is fake, too!

Elsewhere (and when?) Major Disaster is revealed to be responsible for this misunderstanding after all. He and his ally, who remains hidden, revel in the raging testosterone that they have unleashed and decide to ratchet it up a notch. 

Karate Kid and Superboy have both calmed down long enough to stop fighting and to exchange a few words with each other. Superboy tells Karate Kid that "the city" is a recreation Superboy built for SRA (Scientific Research Associates, precursors to STAR Labs) to test the effects of an earthquake on a small town. Karate Kid admits that he must have misunderstood the whole situation, but when he offers Superboy a hand-shake he uses the opportunity to grab the Boy of Steel.

We then get another of Karate Kid's Interplanetary Fighting Techniques whereas the Legionnaire grabs Superboy and holds him from behind. Karate Kid still thinks he's a phony for not recognizing him. Of course, even if this is not the "real" Superboy hasn't he already proven that he's stronger than Karate Kid? What does he hope to prove? Whether "real" or not, Superboy has every intention of bursting loose from the Kid's grip. Before either of them can move, though, several members of the Legion of Super-Heroes show up to confront the Kid, too! To Be Continued!

So overall, I liked this issue. I have to admit that I kinda sorta guessed the "twist" as to why nobody seems to know each other, but that didn't stop me from enjoying the story. And for fans who always questioned Karate Kid's qualifications for joining the Legion....I think that if you can hold your own against Superboy (or a relatively accurate copy) for 17 pages then you're worth having on the team!

I am much more of a fan of the Juan Ortiz-Bob McLeod art over any of the Ric Estrada and/or Joe Staton work we have gotten up to this point. Are there fans out there who might say that this work is less "dynamic" than Estrada's, or less clear than Staton's? I'd like to meet those fans, because I totally disagree. Just look at the amount of detail in those panels at Major Disaster's hide-out? Sure, all of the boys do seem to look alike, but that's true of many artists, isn't it? After I bought this issue I knew that I would atleast try to hunt down the conclusion and see how I liked that. Please do the same, and join us here next month for the exciting conclusion!

Fights Per Issue:
Karate Kid vs an earthquake: 2 pages
Karate Kid vs Superboy: 8 pages
Now THIS is what I think of when I read the "all-out action issue!" blurb. Even when Karate Kid and Superboy are talking (or thinking) they are fighting. Basically as soon as they meet until the second to last page these two are fighting. Now that's what I call Action comics!

Karate Comments: 

Science Police Notes:  
  • This issue debuts the brand-new Karate Kid logo. 
  • This is the first issue under its brand-new creative team.  
  • Under editor Al Milgrom, letterists and colorists will now be credited in every issue.  
This issue has not yet been reprinted.

If there is anything.


  1. Nice review as always. When will you review the conclusion of the Superman and the Legion of Super-heroes arc?

  2. I loved Rich Buckler back in the day!

  3. One hopes the next issue will explain the anachronistic costumes.