BRUCE LEE – WALK OF THE DRAGON / BLACK HAMMER – AGE OF DOOM / ENDGAME / SKYWARD [Reviews]: Be Like Water.
Good evening fellow geeks! Yet another upcoming week, and with that we’ve got our ever faithful, tried-and-true Monday Stash to to get us ready for the upcoming workweek. We’ve got a lot of indie titles this week, including a return of one of the greatest martial artists of all time, whose legend continues, as it always should.
Let’s get right to it, and see what’s good!
Shannon Lee, Daughter of the Dragon, and Sister to the Crow, further proliferates the legacy of the most iconic martial artist of our time: the creator of Jeet Kune Do; a performer; a philosopher; her father and a family man – a legend known to us mere mortals as the eternal Bruce Lee. Continuing her collaboration-in-arms with Darby Pop Publishing, Bruce Lee: Walk Of The Dragon Issue #1 is a one-shot offering, that continues the saga begun with Bruce Lee: The Dragon Rises (2016)… We find a still-ageless-and-amnesiac Bruce in present-day Los Angeles, seemingly meditating in the CostSmart employee breakroom with his big, bad BFF, Joe Toomey (a retired P.I., and stand-in of sorts for Jim Kelly of Enter The Dragon fame, who now works as a CostSmart employee). Tagging alongside them are a pair of tweenaged Millennial protégés, who complete this 21st Century family.
Battling the clouded demons of his mind, in an effort to unleash the repressed memories they continue to imprison beyond his conscious grasp, Bruce succumbs to his own corporeal desires as his own groaning belly devil snaps him from his Zen state. A man’s gotta eat, and when ya can only set someone else’s breakroom table with cold-and-moldy employee leftovers, ya ain’t got no otha option but ta skin out and hit the streets fo sum reel grubba-dub-dub!!! It’s at this juncture that Lee finds himself unleashed upon the streets, and here’s where all his Jeet Kune Do hijinks hit the asphalt!!!
Granted, BL: WOTD is intentionally sanitized and Rated G, in an obvious effort to gain maximum family exposure value to reach a new generation of fans that may possibly result in the further expansion of the Bruce Lee legend, and with that, continued market share profitability; yet despite realizing this multi-pronged strategy for what it is, I still find myself recalling the hours of enjoyment I’ve experienced by watching The Dragon’s masterful films over and over again… And if you’ve engaged your peripheral vision like a Big Boss, you’ll probably get a kick out of nod to the ole Wax-On-Wax-Off, and the Billy Zabka you’ll find within these pages… 3.75/5 Fists of Fury.
In the new series Black Hammer: Age of Doom (which seems to take place right where issue 13 ended) Lemire, Stewart, and Ormston, continue to combine the strange and unusual elements from the world of Black Hammer to go further down the emotional rabbit hole which asks more questions than it answers. And although it doesn’t deliver any revelations, the first issue sets up the characters with intriguing storytelling and expressive art that has set this series apart from the beginning.
Lucy Weber, the daughter of the former Black Hammer, is now the new Black Hammer, and will stop at nothing to discover how her and former super hero friends can return to where they belong. Along the way she’ll be fighting through a special sort of hell filled with demons, loud music and eventually Satan. It’s another solid, near perfect debut (or return) into the BH universe that continues to leave me wondering just how much is in a Jeff Lemire’s head and hoping he’ll be able to put it all to paper. 4/5 Retired Heroes.
Mix a little Walking Dead, with maybe Constantine or Spawn, and a splash of Duke Nukem, and I believe we got the Endgame. Created by Ethan Thompson, Endgame is the story of a Vietnam War veteran coming home to find his wife and family killed by demonic assassins; suddenly before he even realizes they attack and impale him with a huge curved machete. The veteran’s soul is then visited by warriors from different eras of history: a samurai, a viking and Clint Eastwood from The Good The Bad and The Ugly, (not really; that’s just what he looks like) gives the US Vet an offer from Heaven that he probably shouldn’t refuse at all, because its Heaven and the simple fact he is promised to see his family again. All he has to do is claim the title of Lazarus and kill Lucifer. That’s it: kill freakin’ Lucifer, the God damn Devil (yea, it’s always a catch isn’t it?).
Anyway, now known as Lazarus, the veteran goes on his quest to kill Lucifer with his Heavenly-appointed sidekick name Merchant,who has this bird mask on his face, and totally covered from head to toe to protect him from the sun’s rays. Merchant’s mask kind of look like a mix of the Court of Owls mask, mixed with one of those masks from the movie Eyes Wide Shut, very distinctive, cool look. This was a great read and great detailed artwork all together. There were a few times where the panel and story felt rushed, but you definitely see the potential of the story, and this was a pretty good set-up. This would potentially be a great Netflix series if given a good budget; very curious to see how far the story goes with Endgame. 3.5/5 Bibles.
I went into Skyward #1 blind and didn’t know what to expect. Writer Joe Henderson introduces a global phenomenon with a simple premise, a world without gravity. The artwork by Lee Garbett is beautiful and striking. The color lends to the adventurous tone for the book’s potential future. With that aside, what is can I say this book is about? To be honest it isn’t too clear who the characters are and if there are any stakes at all. As for the story, I wasn’t grabbed by the characters in this first issue.
In the beginning we’re introduced to a family of three, Nate, Lilly, and their infant daughter Willa. Just as Nate was about to morn the breaking his favorite mug, he finds it and the coffee itself, floating in front of him. Nate says to himself that he knew this would happen, that he was right. A mystery, asking what could he mean by that? He floats to the front door and watches in horror, as what once easily held to the ground now starts to levitate to the sky, including his wife. Just as I was building my curiosity, this scene jarringly jumps twenty-four years later, where Willa and others casually make their way through the sky of Chicago. She meets with only a couple of characters,establishing the younger generation doesn’t know what a crosswalk sign is or what life on the ground was like in the past. After escaping a couple muggers, by way of gun propulsion, and making a delivery, Willa floats home to her father, where she opens up about wanting to leave Chicago and travel the world. Nate dismisses the notion saying the state of the world is not what it’s supposed to be and he has the solution to fix it.
Once again, Nate feels out of place. Even though he knows more about what’s going on than everyone else in the story, so far, I didn’t have the time to feel that from him. Right now, I’m not biting my teeth trying to figure out why this happened, or why it should be alleviated. Nothing so far has shown me the how severe downside of this phenomenon. I felt like that was lost on me when the book abruptly jumps into the future,changing the tone, severing time I could spent to get to know Nate and his wife. I’ll be waiting for issue #2 and hope it can turn me around. 3/5 Bibles.