Monday, July 22, 2019

Karate Kid #11

Karate Kid #11
"Disasters of Yesteryear!"
story by Jack C. Harris
additional material by David Michelinie writing as Barry Jameson
art by Ric Estrada
edited by Denny O'Neil
cover by Al Milgrom (penciller) and Jack Abel (inker)
cover date: Dec/March 1977
review by Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage
dedicated affectionately to Glenn "Continuity Kid" Walker

This cover seems to be light-years away from the Mike Grell and Grell-inspired covers that used to wrap around this series. Has DC decided that the Legion fandom isn't going for this book, so there is no need to maintain Mike Grell's covers? (He was still doing the Legion covers at the time.) Or did DC think that Legion fans would buy this even without Mike Grell's covers? Either way, this cover seems like the Hero should be a bit more of the center of attention, don't you think?

How difficult must it be to "drive" a Time Bubble? I only ask because sometimes it seems like it's easy: you set your destination like a DeLorean and hit a certain speed and boom, you're there. Other times Brainiac 5 or somebody has to "hold the controls" to guide the Time Bubble back to its destination....but where would the time machine go if you DIDN'T hold the controls?
Anyhoo, we start this newest Karate Kid adventure with a possibly broken Time Bubble, as Karate Kid tries to return to 1977 NYC but is suddenly facing pre-historic men!  (Cue double-page splash-page!)

He fights them off, but when he tries to race around to make his way back to his Time Bubble, he realizes that he is on a set, not *really* in New York at all! I know I shouldn't but I really love that panel of Karate Kid slamming into the wall ala Wile E. Coyote.
We cut to a shadowy figure literally "pulling the strings" who then sends an earthquake down on him. Karate Kid, right in front of the corporate headquarters of DC Comics, has to dodge falling buildings and up-ended side-walks. He also goes in to action to rescue a lone pre-historic man that he dubs "Ugly." However, take a look at this sequence and tell me....what exactly is happening here?
Not to put too broad a stroke on this, but a few times during this story I literally could not figure out what was supposed to be happening. Artist Ric Estrada does a basically okay job, and he inks his own pencils for the first time so that makes everything look a little less cartoony or "rough," but....yeah. We then get sequences like this, which, correct me if I'm wrong, it seems to have Karate Kid diving into the danger but not actually getting out of it!?

Karate Kid and Ugly realize that this earth-quake was being caused by some machinery UNDER the side-walk, so he destroys it. When they get back to the Time Bubble, Karate Kid discovers that the other cave-men have destroyed it. Ugly promises to have a stern talking to them (just kidding).

Ugly begins to lead Karate Kid to the outskirts of "the city," but on the way they face a flash fire. Karate Kid guesses that this disaster is also man-made. He bursts the walls to find the controls, and then shuts off the gas supply.
Karate Kid and Ugly come to the "end" of the city, where he realizes that he has been on some type of manufactured "set" in some truly prehistoric era. He finds that "the city" is powered by a pipe-line connected to molten lava. Try as he might, however, Karate Kid is unable to destroy this piping. So he and Ugly track it back to the city to hope to fund the person on the other end of it.

When a taxi-cab tries to run them down, and then the whole city seems to be one huge disaster film, Karate Kid finally realizes that he must be in Major Disaster's testing ground. Karate Kid has destroyed many of Disaster's machinery, so Major Disaster decides to destroy the whole place, with Karate Kid along with it. Suuuuure. Makes sense to me.
Karate Kid guesses that Major Disaster's head-quarters is in the fake World Trade Centers, so he climbs it by making foot holds and hand holds in the rock (?). It certainly appears to mold and crack like rock after he "chops" it. Maybe concrete? But the coloring and appearance doesn't scream "skyscraper" to me. Ugly follows.
Just as he gets to the roof, Major Disaster begins to escape in his Time Flyer. In another badly choreographed scene, Ugly tosses Karate Kid at Major Disaster's time ship and the Legionnaire manages to capture the bad guy.
Karate Kid uses Major Disaster's own time ship to return to the real New York City and turn Major Disaster over to the authorities. Karate Kid then meets up with Iris Jacobs, but when he calls her a "friend" she realizes that she has been put into the friend zone, an rushes off, crying.

Fights Per Issue:
Karate Kid vs the cave-men: 1 page
Karate Kid vs the earth-quake: 1 page
Karate Kid vs the fire 1 page:
Karate Kid vs the power cord: 1 page
Karate Kid vs the taxi-cab: 1 page
Karate Kid vs Major Disaster: 1 panel!

Was this issue produced by Irwin Allen, or what? For all the trouble that Major Disaster put our hero through, he fell down as quick as a house of cards.

Karate Comments: 

Science Police Notes:  
  • No letterer or colorist was credited for this story.  
  • This is the last issue with a two-page opening spread. 
  • This story follows Karate Kid (and Princess Projectra) helping the Legion fight the Fatal Five in Superboy/Legion #231
  • The letter column (reprinted above) promises the return of Paul Levitz to Karate Kid. This, of course, does not happen. 
This issue has not yet been reprinted.

This is the last issue with art by Ric Estrada. It is also the last issue written by David Michelinie. And it is the last issue with the current "Karate Kid" logo. 

1 comment:

  1. The art made me feel like I was reading an issue of Super Friends! Such cartoony faces...