Monday, January 28, 2019

Karate Kid #5

Karate Kid #5 
"The Tomorrow Thief"
script by David Michelinie writing as Barry Jameson
art by Ric Estrada and Joe Staton
color by Liz Berube
edited by Joe Orlando
cover by Ernie Chan (penciller) and Mike Grell (inker)
cover date: Nov/Dec 1976
review by Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage
dedicated affectionately to Glenn "Continuity Kid" Walker

Here we are again, it's Kung Fu Fighting time! Errr, I mean, Karate Kid reading time. This month we get an antagonist who seeks to take advantage of the fact that Karate Kid revealed that he was from the future..... something I'm not sure he should have done in the first place, but it's in the past now (see what I did there?). Fresh from being named a deputized police officer of the state of New York last issue, Karate Kid finds himself a minor celebrity this time more ways than one.

It's Veterans' Day 1976 and Karate Kid is the guest of honor at a New York City parade...we know this, thanks to the narration. Another clear indication to any would-be LSH fans who might pick up this book thinking that it was set in the future? Or maybe I'm putting too much thought into it. Either way, the only ones on the front of the dais is Karate Kid and Iris...without the mayor, or any other dignitaries up front with them. That seems strange to me, but whatever. Suddenly, in this issue's splash center-piece pages, World War I soldiers marching in the parade turn and attack the dais. It turns out that they are not actual World War I soldiers at all, but young men with old men masks, whose mission is to kidnap Iris Jacobs!?
Karate Kid fights them until his wrist band starts beeping; after a moment's hesitation, he rushes off to "answer" it. Although the Kid's anxiety is well shown here, it seems very very odd that a Legionnaire in the midst of protecting some innocent civilian would WALK OFF. Also, I'm not a fan of Karate Kid's blue eyes. I've met many half-Japanese people in my life and I can't recall any who had blue eyes. Just sayin'.
Ten minutes later, back at his apartment, Karate Kid finishes his "report" to some "monitor globe." The voice on the other end reminds him of the conditions of his test: he is to report whenever he is called, no questions asked. I get the impression that was more for our benefit than for the Kid's, even as he makes a half-hearted complaint that poor Iris Jacobs might be killed. Karate Kid's land-lady interrupts as their conversation ends; she offers him chicken soup but he declines, rushing back to the street to rescue Iris.
Karate Kid returns to the scene of the crime, and although only twenty minutes have passed (per the narration), there is no trace of the parade, guests, or police investigating the disturbance. Instead Karate Kid finds an old lady, who turns out to be another one of the soldiers. Their disguise work is fantastic! She (I mean he) leaves Karate Kid a note with instructions to follow in order to find Iris. This is my favorite bit of this story.
Karate Kid follows instructions on the dropped handkerchief: he goes to the Empire State Building, takes a special elevator, and soon finds himself underneath Manhattan, in a secret lair that resembles a military museum. He is attacked by another group of soldiers, who he takes down in the space of four panels. A tall, imposing man walks in and introduces himself as Frederick Sanguine, but then tells him to call him Commander Blud. 
Really? And how do you pronounce "Blud"? I assume it's pronounced the same as "blood," so why in the world mis-spell it? Anyway, take another look at his pose and the shadows around his feet. His left foot specifically looks like he is on pointe, like in ballet?!?
Commander Blud explains to Karate Kid that he kidnapped Iris in order to force Karate Kid to negotiate with him. Blud wants to trade Iris for information about the future. Specifically, Blud wants to know who will be in World War III so that he and his mercenaries can support the losing side. Blud wants to give his "army" an opportunity to fight for the "losing" side so that he can prolong the battle and potentially make it possible to win. When Blud read in the newspapers that Karate Kid was from the future, he knew that he wanted to convince Karate Kid to help him. Karate Kid refuses to give any details to him about the future, so they fight.
While fighting, Commander Blud challenges Karate Kid to deny that he, too, enjoys the "splendor" of battle, and that it is not just some type of "nobility" that motivates Karate Kid to fight against evil.
Karate Kid is on the verge of winning when Commander Blud uses knock-out gas on him.
When Karate Kid wakes up he finds that he is strapped to some type of torture device that will inflict pain on him until he talks. When Karate Kid still refuses to divulge any future information, Blud turns on the machine. However, this is the point where I want to raise my hand and ask a question. How *exactly* would knowing which countries were in (are going to be in?) World War Three risk re-writing history/the future? How does Karate Kid know that World War III wasn't started by this idiot in the first place? This logic seems faulty and makes my head hurt. Speaking of pain, the pain inflicted on Karate Kid by the machine drives him into a rage. He breaks free and starts attacking Commander Blud's hide-out indiscriminately. To Be Continued!!

Fights Per Issue:
"WWI" Soldiers at the parade: 4 panels
"Old Lady" soldier: 1 panel
Soldiers at Blud's compound: 5 panels
Commander Blud: 17 panels
Going berserk: 3 panels

Science Police Notes:  
  • "Sanguine" means either being positive or optimistic, or blood-thirsty or bloody. According to him, it is Commander Blud's real last name. 
  • No letterer was credited for this story.  
This issue has not yet been reprinted.

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