Monday, October 28, 2019

Karate Kid #13

Karate Kid #13 
"Tomorrow's Battle....Yesterday!"
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 Bob McLeod (inker)
cover date: Apr/May 1978
review by Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage
dedicated affectionately to Glenn "Continuity Kid" Walker

This issue picks up directly from where we ended last issue, which if you are paying attention means that poor old Karate Kid hasn't had a break in three issues! If you recall, *last* issue picked up directly from where #11 ended, and that was when Karate Kid time-bubbled himself back to 1977 and was promptly snatched up by Major Disaster and his secret ally! So Karate Kid's current adventure has been continuing for more than three issues without a break!

If you're just now joining us in the time stream, though, Karate Kid has somehow found himself back in Superboy's Smallville. Although he is confused about the whys and wherefores, he believes that he is facing off against a fake Superboy. As the victim of Major Disaster's manipulations more times than we care to count, the Kid thinks that the Superboy he faced last issue and is currently wrestling with when this issue opens is either a. a robot or b. a replica of some sort. (What, no thought that he might be an alternate universe Superboy?) Suddenly added to the mix: a Legion of Super-Heroes mission team who does not recognize Karate Kid as a member! He therefore thinks that they, too, are fakes. And that is all you need to know....!

Karate Kid is holding Superboy when an angry Legion of Super-Heroes rushes forward. Lightning Lad tries to blast him, but Karate Kid quickly uses Superboy as a shield. Then Sun Boy blasts Superboy, roasting *him* so that Karate Kid has to let him go. Karate Kid "spins" Superboy off, knocking down several Legionnaires. This is a great sequence and well choreographed. Unfortunately, it is based on the idea that Superboy couldn't get out of Karate Kid's hold, which is preposterous. I understand the idea that he might not want to break Karate Kid's arm, but really, Superboy should be able to calmly raise his left hand and slowly peel Karate Kid's left arm off from around his neck. Tada: choke hold broken.
When Saturn Girl is going to attack, Karate Kid maneuvers so that Lightning Lad blasts her instead of him. Although Karate Kid thinks that these Legionnaires are somehow copies made by Major Disaster, he knows that they are potential lethal adversaries. He therefore tries to escape, but Colossal Boy grabs him before he gets very far. Then Chameleon Boy tries to stop him as a straight-jacket, but Karate Kid still manages to break free. This is probably the best part of the issue, as Karate Kid holds his own against the Legion, earning his membership ten-times over. Artist Juan Ortiz keeps the action flowing, and although there is a certain amount of "Kirby-esque" melodrama to the proceedings (see Karate Kid's attack on Chameleon Boy, below) it is very clear and easy to understand. And I love the amount of detail we get, such as Cham recovering in the background of panel two and Superboy checking on Colossal Boy in panel three. Meanwhile, Cosmic Boy and Sun Boy methodically work together to create a metallic "body suit" prison that Cos slams shut over Karate Kid magnetically.
When the Legion doesn't kill him, Karate Kid is even more confused. Saturn Girl then runs a telepathic scan of him and avers that he IS from the Legion...but from their future, several years later. They begin to compare situations and realize that both Karate Kid and the Legionnaires were blasted by time rays and plucked down in Smallville. They realize that all of them are being manipulated.

Their conversation is being monitored by Major Disaster and his partner, who turns out to be the Lord of Time.  They had hoped that the misunderstanding between the heroes would cause atleast one of the Legionnaires to be killed. However, but undeterred, Major Disaster initiates phase two of their plan: three separate disasters in Metropolis, Midvale, and Smallville. At this point I would have appreciated a little bit more of an explanation as to what these no-goodniks were up to, but I guess I can appreciate the "keep the issue moving" mentality, too. Kudos to writer Bob Rozakis for teaming these two villains up, too. I have no idea how they would have met and agreed to team up, but I like the idea all the same.
Superboy hears of the disasters and the Legionnaires split up to cover them. At the same time, Karate Kid and Saturn Girl head off after Major Disaster himself. At this point, this story turns into a Legion of Super-Heroes story more than a Karate Kid story. Not a bad thing, necessarily; just making an observation. 

In Midvale, Superboy and Cosmic Boy face a "hailstorm" of boulders. Cos repels the larger ones via magnetism, but Superboy stretches his cape over the entire town, saving them.
In Metropolis, Lightning Lad tries to blast the fire funnel with no effect. Instead, Chameleon Boy turns into a fan and blows it towards the harbor, where it turns into a cloud of steam.
In Smallville, Colossal Boy rescues drowning people as Sun Boy checks out the water volcano. Colossal Boy uses his fist to plug the spout until Sun Boy can melt the base into a permanent plug. 
Now, I understand how difficult it is to write team-ups where the heroes all get nearly equal "screen time," but I have to say that of the three chapters here only the Colossal Boy-Sun Boy story really works for me. Superboy saves the town on his own with little cooperation from Cosmic Boy, and Chameleon Boy saves Metropolis with no help from Lightning Lad at all. He supplied the idea, right.

Back in "present day" 1977 at STAR Labs, Iris Jacobs continues to get hydrocarbon injections to help STAR experiment how human bodies can adapt to increasing pollution. Iris is doing this volunteering at STAR to prove to Karate Kid that she's just as brave and strong willed as Princess Projectra. As she sleeps, however, an energy beam hits her, altering the hydrocarbon injection. Sharp-eyed readers will notice that this beam originates from Major Disaster and the Lord of Time, but again, why are they meddling in Karate Kid's affairs like this? It seems totally random. 
Back in the recent past, Karate Kid and Saturn Girl track down Major Disaster and the Lord of Time. In another few well choreographed and illustrated pages Karate Kid takes them both out, and destroys Major Disaster's equipment. Juan Ortiz and Bob McLeod really knew what they were doing on these two pages, the best illustrated scene in the book.
Similar to the other chapters, this isn't so much a "team-up" between Karate Kid and Saturn Girl as it is a solo bit with Karate Kid, as Saturn Girl does literally nothing during this sequence. However, as the name on the book is Karate Kid, this time I don't really mind.

After they think the two bad guys have been taken care of Karate Kid and Saturn Girl call in the other Legionnaires. Before they can all plan their next step, however, the Lord of Time sends the Legionnaires back to their future, returns Karate Kid to 1977, and then disappears with Major Disaster. Superboy, and to a lesser extent the readers, are left wondering what just happened.
As Karate Kid returns to New York City he is shocked to see Iris has mutated into a crazy diamond woman! To Be Continued----!
That was fast!! So he *didn't* return to the exact same moment he left. He's been gone atleast a day....? Funny how he is able to recognize "Diamondeth" as Iris, too. 

Fights Per Issue:
Karate Kid vs the Legionnaires : 5 pages
The Legion vs disasters: 3 pages
Karate Kid vs Major Disaster: 3 pages
Now THIS is more like it! Of seventeen pages, eleven pages are given over to "all-out action." Nicely done, Mssrs Rozakis, Ortiz, and McLeod!

Karate Comments:
Check out that last comment on the bottom right, where Bob Rozakis says there isn't any plans for a Karate Kid-Superman team-up, but there was talk about a Karate Kid-Man-Bat crossover! I love that idea! That would have been spectacular!

Science Police Notes:  
  • The Legionnaires are using flight belts, rather than flight rings, which places this adventure before their creation (in Adventure Comics #329). 
  • Although Lightning Lad is giving orders, either Cosmic Boy or Saturn Girl would have been the Legion Leader at this time. No specific clue is given as to when specifically the Legionnaires were plucked out of their time by the Lord of Time.     
This issue has not yet been reprinted.

1 comment:

  1. I've got to look into KK's solo book. This issue seems particularly interesting.