Monday, December 16, 2019

Karate Kid #15

Karate Kid #15 
"Bring Back My Future To Me!"
script by Bob Rozakis
co-plotted by Jack C. Harris
art by Juan Ortiz
lettered by Clem Robins
colored by Mario Sen
edited by Al Milgrom
cover by Rich Buckler (penciller) and Jack Abel (inker)
cover date: July/Aug 1978
review by Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage
dedicated affectionately to Glenn "Continuity Kid" Walker

I gotta say, this is one of the more dynamic Karate Kid covers out of the fifteen issue run. The colors are weirdly vibrant and the idea that Karate Kid is going to punch his way into the correct reality and/or time-line....that's an idea that is PRIME for reusing. I wonder if Geoff Johns saw this cover as a kid?
Of course, if you spend too much time looking at this cover you're sure to notice that Karate Kid's right arm is a tad out of proportion. So don't look there. Forget I said anything. Onto the story!
Karate Kid pilots his time bubble away from Robin, the Teen Wonder in 1978 NYC and heads into the future. He slows down in what the bubble's GPS is telling him is 30th Century Earth. However, he doesn't recognize any of the terrain on the horizon, and he quickly meets up with two dog-like creatures standing up-right, clothed, and speaking! As he is trying to get "back" to his future in order to cure Iris Jacobs of her "Diamondeth" persona, he is not in a great mood to come across what he considers more interference by Major Disaster and the Lord of Time.
In (this) reality, the dogs are mutated canines named Dr. Canus and Mylock Bloodstalker, who are searching for their friend, Kamandi. They are NOT robots or facsimiles made by Major Disaster, but Karate Kid attacks them believing that they are. Prone to attacking, this Kid.
Elsewhere (and elsewhen?) the villains of the piece are still monitoring the hero. The Lord of Time explains to Major Disaster that Karate Kid IS in the 30th Century, just not the "true" one he is used to. The Lord of Time explains that what they are seeing is an "alternate" reality that "might be" what ends up happening, depending on how the present unfolds. No explanation is given as how the Lord of Time "nudged" Karate Kid into this reality. I wonder if the Time Trapper was involved?
As Karate Kid stands over the defeated canines, he is zapped by another of Kamandi's friends, Pyra. When his head clears, Karate Kid apologizes for jumping to conclusions, and Kamandi's friends introduce themselves.
They tell Karate Kid that Kamandi has been captured by lobsters, and while the Kid is fascinated by that idea, he is more interested in getting back into his time bubble and trying to return to "his" future. However, the time bubble controls will not respond. I wonder if Major Disaster was involved? He and the Lord of Time gleefully start "phase two!" by causing a huge tidal wave near the beach where the lobsters are chilling. This brings them accidentally on purpose into conflict with our heroes.
The surf-happy lobsters ride the wave, which smashes into the time bubble, apparently smashing it (see pic above). The lobsters notice another human; a "god" in their parlance. They had recently kidnapped Kamandi, and now want to kidnap Karate Kid as a second "god." Oddly enough, they ignore Spirit, who also appears to be human. I don't know her back story so I don't know if she's really human or not but she certainly looks it. Regardless, she and Pyra and the dogs escape while Karate Kid tries to hold off the lobsters. (read that sentence again!) However, they really only want our Legionnaire. The Kid is unsuccessful in denting their thick shells, and they succeed in knocking him out.
In the forest away from the beach, Pyra tries her abilities on Diamondeth, successfully changing her back to Iris Jacobs. However, Iris is shocked by her surroundings (wouldn't you be?) so Pyra returns her to her Diamondeth form. Instead of, you know, using her powers to knock her unconscious like she did with Karate Kid a few pages ago.
Dr. Canus and Bloodstalker see that the lobsters are kidnapping Karate Kid. Knowing that the lobsters will bring the Legionnaire to wherever they are holding Kamandi, the two canines hitch a ride on the surf board that Karate Kid is tied to and are dragged along with him to The Island of God Watchers. Karate Kid is placed inside a weird egg-like contraption, and suddenly finds himself teaming up with Kamandi in some type of celluloid projection device at...a drive-in movie theatre?!?

To Be Continued!?

This time around I basically kept my comments to a minimum during the review because, basically, I  was confused as hell!

I remember picking up this issue as a kid and, not having ever read an issue of Kamandi before, not knowing what the heck I was supposed to think about this. On the other hand, if we want to put ourselves in Karate Kid's shoes, that was the same exact feeling that HE had. So I have to give DC props for doing such an outlandish team-up at all. Also, respect to them for addressing the in-house contradictions of having both the Legion future AND the Kamandi future in the same continuity (by this time Batman had met Kamandi in the pages of Brave and the Bold, and Superman would eventually meet him in DC Comics Presents.)

So the story was off-the-wall and creative in a way that blew my young mind. As for the art, it's another classic Juan Ortiz effort. If I remember correctly, this is probably the last Ortiz art I saw for several years. With the cancellation of this title and Batman Family, I guess Ortiz lost his dependable art assignments and left the comic world. Or fell off of my radar, anyway. This is a shame, because if you look at the pages I have reproduced you can see that his layouts are clear and his figures are dynamic. I especially like his close-ups of the Kid, Dr. Canus, the Time Lord, and Iris. That's some good work.

On the other hand, this effort was "too little, too late" for both of our heroes. Karate Kid came to an end with this issue (see the copy of the letters' page below) and Kamandi ended two months after this. The days of DC publishing all sorts of "out there" stuff hoping for some type of success is on its last legs. DC is about to go into cardiac arrest with the up-coming DC Implosion, and won't be making any truly "out there" creative stuff for several more years.

Be that as it may, this is not the end of Karate Kid's story. Join us here again next year for the conclusion to this Kamandi team-up, then a return to the "real" future to cure Iris, and finally a certain team-up with Batman to "put a bow" on the whole Karate Kid series.

Action Per Issue:
Karate Kid vs Dr. Canus and Bloodstalker : 2 pages
Lobsters on waves: 2 pages
Karate Kid vs the lobsters: 2 pages

This is a pretty low FPI (Fights Per Issue) ratio. There's a lot of talking in this issue without a whole lot of anything worthwhile going on. It's somewhat understandable, as you have two diametrically opposed continuities clashing with each other for the first time, but it is still a bit disappointing. I would have liked more Lobster Action!

Karate Comments: 

Science Police Notes:  
  • Robin is most likely appearing here between his appearances in Batman Family #17 and #18. 
  • Kamandi does not actually appear in this story except for two panels on the last page, in a film. 
  • The Great Disaster story continues from Kamandi #57
  • Karate Kid's adventure will continue in Kamandi #58
This issue has not yet been reprinted. I would be interested to see if Kamandi reprint collections  include this if/when they get around to this era of that series, but currently it is out of print.

This is the last issue of Karate Kid.  


  1. His right arm is out of proportion? His entire body is out of proportion! I mean, look at him! He's huge!

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