Thursday, December 27, 2018

The One-Arm Swordsman

The One-Arm Swordsman #1 1987 $2.75 U.S. $3.25 Canada
Victory Comics (Leung's Publications) Kin Central, Hong Kong
By Ben Lee and Mas
(also credited is Dr. Leung Ting for Kung Fu Technique)

I remember seeing this comic book in the late '80's when I would look through discount boxes at the local shops but I never picked it up until recently. The cover is so odd with the airbrushed lightning bolt and the figure with one arm holding aloft a sword. The image was burned into my brain thirty years ago and let me tell you I'm excited that I finally got the chance to read it. 

Our tale opens a few hundred years ago in China. Master Lui claims to be "No. 1 in Kung Fu". But with that title comes an arrogance. He must squash anyone who may challenge his position. Chan Lam, known as "Invulnerable Broadswords", is one such challenger. Master Lui decides to spring a trap to eliminate Chan Lam so there is no dispute to his title!

Master Lui convinces The Gold Lion Convoys that Chan Lam is the one who pillaged their 100,000 taels of silver though it isn't so. They arrange to meet with Chan Lam to get to the bottom of this dispute.

He rides up on his white horse to meet the Gold Lion Convoys people. They accuse him of robbing them and demand he pay them back. Chan Lam, knowing nothing of the robbery, tells them to step off, yo. He then rides off on his white horse like an indignant Lone Ranger.

But suddenly Chan Lam is ambushed by attackers from the trees! It is Master Lui and his henchmen. They trap Chan Lam in a net and bind his hands behind his back. But Chan Lam takes no shit and makes short work of the henchmen. As he faces Master Lui he is told that if he can defeat Lui this day he can go free. But if he loses he has to repay the silver to the Gold Lions Convoy people.

Sick of dealing with this mess (and knowing he is the baddest there is) Chan Lam agrees to battle Master Lui. Chan springs into an attack and the duel is on!

They battle for a time and Chan Lam has Lui cornered. He jabs a sword at Lui's head but stops short of stabbing him to make a point. He has won but desires not to kill his opponent. What a guy. But Lui cannot afford to lose his title of  "No. 1 in Kung Fu" so he springs up and hacks off Chan Lam's arm!

Impressively, Chan Lam somersaults through the air and lands on his white horse. He rides off into the night like a wounded animal. 

Years later we see Chan Lam working as an attendant at a small restaurant in a remote village.

He is constantly heckled by the drunken customers. But he proves his skill by throwing dishes into the air, wiping the table and then catching them midair and placing them onto the table in one swift motion! His skills apparently have not diminished one bit with the loss of an arm!

Impressed with the display, the customers leave Chan Lam alone for now. Soon they turn their attention to another customer, Mei Ling. She is only there to get a bottle of wine for her father but these drunken hooligans have decided to harass her. 

Chan Lam takes notice and yells at them to stop! They smack him around and have him on the ropes when who should show up but Wan Wei himself! Who is that you ask? He is none other than "Super Broadswords", one of the baddest of the bad! But in a good guy way.

Wan Wei makes quick work of the drunken hooligans and sends them on their way.

As it turns out those hooligans were henchmen of Master Lui and they alert him to the presence of Wan Wei in the neighboring village. Again Lui is afraid to lose his precious title of "No. 1 in Kung Fu" so he hatches a plan to dispose of Wan Wei. He has word sent to Wan Wei that there is a misunderstanding that must be sorted out and to please come at once. 

Wan Wei is heading out when Chan Lam gets word of what is happening. He tries to stop Wan Wei from falling into the same trap that he did with Master Lui... but it is too late.

 Upon Wan Wei's arrival to Master Lui's villa the two men are quickly engaged in battle. Master Lui uses his underhanded technique involving a "mischievous" trick staff to lock up Wan Wei's sword and
delivers the death blow to his opponent.
Word is sent back to Chan Lam's village that poor Wan Wei has fallen to Master Lui.

Chan Lam does what he had sworn to never do again. Grabbing a broad sword he heads into battle! When he reaches the villa he tells the guards to step aside as his beef is with Master Lui.

The guards would wish they hadn't taunted Chan Lam... that is if they had lived another minute! Chan Lam slaughters them like the dogs they are!

Chan Lam makes his way into Master Lui's sanctum. He calls Lui out on cutting off his arm all those years ago and now killing poor Wan Wei all for no reason other than his precious title. The two men race toward one another, weapons drawn! An epic battle ensues with both men giving it their all. Then as they both spring at one another a sword sinks deep into a skull. 

Master Lui has been killed! The battle belongs to Chan Lam! Suddenly Mei Ling shows up to check on Chan Lam. They say their goodbyes to Wan Wei and walk off together. 

Chan Lam and Mei Ling are married and start a farm to get away from the violent ways of swordplay and power hungry maniacs. It is a peaceful life for them now.

What an amazing tale of honor, revenge and overcoming setbacks in life! Also it makes you think about what is important in life. Being known as the best at something can consume your very existence when all you need to know is that you're doing your best regardless of your ranking among everyone else. And for what it's worth I think Chan Lam is the best at throwing stuff into the air with one hand and then making sure it all lands in the right spot without a mess! So that's how I drew him:

I should also mention this comic was a whopping 48 pages and includes a giant pull out poster of the cover art that you can hang up on your wall! Also this series ran for nine issues total making it the longest running series we've reviewed so far here at the Bewildering! Nice going!

Hopefully everyone had a good holiday and will have a happy new year as well. Thanks for joining me for this look at The One-Arm Swordsman and come back next time when we take a look at...

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Delta Squadron #1

Delta Squadron #1 1988 $2.50 CAN. $2.00 U.S. 
Anderpol Comics Mont-St-Hilaire, Quebec, Canada
by Andre Poliquin

This insane treasure was entirely conceived and executed by one man, Andre Poliquin. On the inside front cover Andre explains that the beginnings of the Delta Squadron took place in a book called Phoenix (which unfortunately only lasted five issues before the project went into bankruptcy). 

After the demise of Phoenix, Andre dusted himself off and got back in the saddle to do what he had to do... make more comics! So let's jump right into this epic tale of bombastic characters. Ladies and gentlemen...
I give you Delta Squadron!!!

The Amazing Captain Cyclo is preparing to unveil a brand new motorcycle stunt for an eager audience. His friend and mechanic Kathleen Stanton asks if he's sure about attempting this feat to which the Captain scoffs and hits the gas! 
But as he reaches the summit of his jump he presses a button and activates a surprise feature on the tricked out bike... hovercraft mode! 

The Amazing Captain Cyclo then engages the jets and blasts right over a line of parked cars as an exhilarated audience looks on! He then flies through hoops and soars through geysers of burning oil without a scratch. The crowd goes bananas and Kathleen hugs the Captain! 

But meanwhile in a secret sub-basement across town a mysterious voice crackles through a computer screen to a group of awaiting henchmen. He commands the four goons to dress in the special suits he has given them. The villainous mastermind wants them to break into the National Bank's safe and empty it onto the street where a helicopter will pick it up and leave $10,000 for each of the goons.

From Left to Right we have Blastor, Skator, Glidor and Stikor (they sound like He-man villains!)

After the transmission ends, Blastor utters some disparaging remarks about their creepy leader. They begin talking about the possibility of just keeping all the loot for themselves. Stickor reminds the group of the horrifying fates that befell their previous co-workers Lance and Jake when they tried the same thing. 
Lance was shot while soaking in a bathtub at his hideout and Jake got run over by a truck while carrying a bag of groceries across the street (poor Bathor and Grocer). After careful consideration the group decides to just do what they were asked to do.

Cut to a mountainous landscape at dusk where a lone ninja speaks aloud to himself...

Later that same day a spooky lady in a mostly see through gown stands in a pentagram shape and talks to her monstrous spirit friends. Goth girls are awesome! Her name is Samandra.

The spirits warn Samandra that dark agents have sent their servants to steal riches for them. And although robbery is bad, their end goal is much more sinister... domination and destruction! Also an undead servant of chaos awaits the conjunction of the planets for some as yet undetermined purpose! Our sultry occultist asks how they can be stopped and the spirits urge her to join up with others whose destinies will soon cross hers. 

Elsewhere a scar faced veteran named Douglas Freeman abruptly wakes from a nightmare where the terrors he faced in Vietnam were on display in amped up intensity. The vision of watching his friend Davy blasted to pieces by a mine are horrific. Douglas, code name Lynx decides what he needs this night is action!

Outside in the streets the gang from earlier has begun their heist of the National Bank. Glidor soars above the city on patrol for police. Stickor disables the alarm system and Blastor blasts his rockets first through the bank doors and then the safe!

Meanwhile Max (AKA The Amazing Captain Cyklo) and Kathleen are finishing their celebratory drinks at a restaurant. They decide to call it a night as they have another show tomorrow. On the way out Max hops on his bike and tells Kathleen he will meet her at home after he stops by the ATM to withdraw a few bucks.

At the same moment our action hungry veteran sees the police car blazing towards the city and decides to suit up with plenty of guns and follow in his action jeep!

The thugs are loading up the loot from the bank when Glidor spots a motorcycle heading their way. Skator springs into action and shoots his flamethrower at the approaching rider!

The police are alerted and make their way to the scene... but can they stop these thugs in super armor?

Blastor makes short work of the police cruiser but suddenly Lynx drives up in his action jeep and begins firing automatic weapons at Blastor!

We cut back to Captain Cyclo as he successfully dodges Skator's flame blasts. Cyclo activates his bike's hovercraft jet mode and faces off against Skator!

The ninja from earlier (The Mist) has also found his way to the fray. He surveys the chaos for a moment from high atop a building before descending to the streets to join in the action. Also Samandra uses her crystal ball to foresee the same chaos and puts on her Dark Phoenix cosplay costume and starts chanting up a spell Zatanna style!

Worried about her friend, Kathleen heads toward the bank to check on Cyclo. She pulls up to the bank just as Skator is about to blast Cyclo from behind with his flamethrower. She quickly runs him down in the street! He goes flying through the air like a doll. Cyclo tells Kathleen he loves her... they're more than friends! I gotta admit I feel a little love for my mechanic as well. He is a wonderful man.

On the other side of town a terrorist group led by an armored thug named Marauder has taken over a government building. They have demanded $5,000,000 and the mayor has decided to pay to prevent the death of another hostage. Atop the government building another armored thug with the code name Firewolf prepares to receive the helicopter full of money. The terrorists tell the police they will activate a bomb in the building if any attempts are made to stop them. The cops back off. Marauder leaves the hostages and joins Firewolf on the roof. They scream the salute "Hail Varan!" as they fly to the rendezvous point.

Meanwhile Blastor and Lynx continue their firefight. Lynx runs out of rockets to fire and Blastor goes in for the kill. But just as he attempts to fire his own rockets he realizes his suit has been damaged in the brawl. This realization comes too late though as his suit blows up upon itself and he goes out in a brilliant explosion!

Stickor sees this melee go down and sneaks up behind Lynx to deliver retribution for his fallen comrade. But as he does so who should show up but The Mist! He leaps upon Stickor and causes him to miss his target.

Cyclo and Kathleen are on the run from Skator (who admits he can't aim correctly while on skates). Kathleen slams the brakes on the van just before hitting a brick wall. Skator can't stop fast enough and crashes right into the bricks and lies there unconscious!

Two evil ninjas are in The Mist's apartment. They have identified his identity at last and so one of them, Banzai, reports this information back to another ninja named Thunderwind who in turn reports to his master. The evil master is gleeful and proclaims that when the last of the Vaktai ninja has perished nobody can stop him from achieving his nefarious goals!

Stickor is trying to escape up the side of a building but The Mist surprises him before he reaches the top! 

Stickor plummets to the ground and is knocked unconscious. Just then Glidor shows up but the gothy Samandra uses her magic to conjure a tornado to knock him out of the sky! The group decides that destiny has brought them together this evening and they forge an alliance to continue the fight against evil as...The Delta Squadron! Apparently Delta is an acronym for "Defence Elite for Launching Team of Attack", which is quite possibly the clunkiest sounding acronym I have ever heard, but still... it's a cool team so...whatever.

As the terrorist helicopter with Maruder and Firewolf inside reaches their rendezvous point those inside see their teammates below tied up and about to be hauled away by the cops. They decide to return to base to proceed with their master plan. Evil has been bested this day but they will no doubt return to face The Delta Squadron!

Wow! That was crazy intense! Nice job Andre! I absolutely loved the action packed story featuring such a diverse bunch of weirdos even if it was a little difficult to keep track of all their names. Reminds me a bit of GI Joe from the '80's where you'd see a sailor, a ninja, an explosives expert and a guy with a hardhat and sledgehammer all fighting alongside one another. Fun stuff! In addition to a fantastic action packed story I thought the art was also really well done. Lots of detail with great designs and layouts. I will definitely look out for the second and final issue in my dollar box hunting!

I also had fun depicting my favorite of the armored terrorists from the book.

Looks like in addition to the comics Andre apparently made two feature length videos with his friends depicting the further adventures of the Delta Squadron (see picture below) back in the '90's! Man, would I love to see those!

Please make your way back here next month to read my final review of the year...

Don't miss it!

Monday, October 22, 2018

Lethal Lita #1

Lethal Lita #1 1996
$2.50 Samhain Studios
Garden City, Michigan
By Michael A. LeBlanc and Donald J. England

Prologue of events leading up to this issue (most likely depicted in the issue #0)

Bridget was a good cop. She brought down the head of a powerful crime family and was thrust into the media spotlight for doing so. She thought of herself as the best there was and had dreams of promotion.
Unfortunately, that wasn't to be. Late one night she answered a call which turned out to be a trap. Three attackers sexually assaulted her. Traumatized, she took a leave of absence from the police force. 
Soon after, her assailants were released from prison due to a technicality. Deeply disturbed that the law would allow these men to run free, Bridget decided to take the law into her own hands. She created a new persona as Lethal Lita, a force for vengeance for all those who needed it.

This is where our story begins.

Lita sits atop a building, overlooking an alley. By the light of the moon she reflects on what she has become and tears run down her masked face. Suddenly she hears a cry for help in the alley below and snaps back to the job at hand!

She sees herself in the eyes of the woman being attacked. Lita deals swift justice to the attacker and leaves a message for all the other predators of the night to see in this dark alley!

Bridget goes home and puts on a sexy low cut dress to excite her boyfriend, John. She meets him at a bar (maybe? it's kind of unclear) and he begins berating her for being late. As if that isn't bad enough he then goes on to insult the paintings she's been working on! Quick aside. As an artist I can tell you one thing I've learned. You make the art you need to make. If people don't get what you're doing, piss on 'em. Not literally. But figuratively, sure. All I'm saying is that those cretins should make something of their own if their sensibilities are so effing great. So you express yourself however you want, Bridget. Make whatever painting you need to make and John can chill the fuck out!

But I digress.

We were talking about Bridget meeting up with this pinhead, John. She reminds him that it's their six month anniversary which he has apparently forgotten. John tells her he's busy tonight and can't be bothered right then. He really seems like a dick. I bet Bridget imagined it was John she was gutting in the alley earlier that night. And good for her if she was. She should at least do a painting of her gutting John. That would probably help and John probably wouldn't even give it a glance if he walked right past it. The dick.

Her evening plans with John canceled, Bridget stops by The Other Side occult shop to visit her friend Susie. Who out there has a friend that works at the occult shop? I bet that's fun. When that person comes over and tells you all about the spooky Wiccan stuff he or she knows from sitting there all day. Or about crystals. I bet this hypothetical friend of yours we're talking about loooovvvvvvees discussing the merits of crystals. 
Sorry, we were talking about Bridget and her spooky pal Susie. They talk about their boyfriends for awhile, completely failing the Bechdel test. 

They end up at a bar where they continue talking about men. Susie's blind date shows up and stares at Bridget's breasts like a sleazeball. Loud enough for Bridget to hear, he tells Susie he was hoping for an evening alone with her.  Bridget takes the hint and says goodnight and begins walking home.

As she passes an alley Bridget hears a woman screaming. She races that way, eager to act out her revenge as her dark persona Lethal Lita! But when Bridget approaches the source of the howl she finds out it is simply a sex worker and her john going at it against a dumpster. Classy.

At home, Bridget curls up with a bag of chips to watch some television. Suddenly her ears perk up when the newscaster announces that Chester Washington, a convicted pedophile, has just been released from prison after serving only one fourth of his sentence. Apparently he completed a new experimental program designed to rehabilitate pedophiles and is now a free man.

Bridget knows this case. She doesn't believe for a second that this scum has been rehabilitated. She decides that she will don her cowl for the second time tonight and give Washington what he deserves.

Washington owns Pussycat Theater in South Detroit. So Lita decides to pay it a visit. She plants a bomb in his car and then waits on a nearby rooftop. Soon Washington comes out and when he opens the car door she detonates it by remote. We are treated to this amazing two page spread of Washington's face being blown to bits while his severed hand still clutches his cell phone. Nicely done, Lita!

Hot off of the thrill of the kill Lita continues patrolling rooftops on the hunt for criminals. She soon finds one as a man holds another by gunpoint in an alley. Lita has her own gun and quickly takes aim and blows the mugger's brains all over the alley wall. This is her form of justice.

We soon see the mayor complaining that this costumed freak killed his thug. Apparently he was performing a hit on police informant Henry Jones when Lita intervened this evening. The mayor wants Lita dead and says so to his business partner... Bridget's boyfriend John! 

Back at home Bridget looks in the mirror but all she can see now is Lita staring back at her.

We cut to Henry Jones walking home. All of a sudden he is snatched into the alley by a mysterious blonde woman wearing sunglasses and not much else.

Back at home Bridget hears the breaking news story of the murder of Henry Jones. Knowing she just saved his life earlier tonight her curiosity is peaked. Bridget showers and puts on her leopard print jammies. Meanwhile the mayor is on the phone with the mysterious blonde woman who wears sunglasses and not much else. He wants to pay her to kill again!

The next evening Bridget stops by Susie's place but Susie's not answering the door.

Bridget has a key and decides to go in and make sure everything is alright. To her horror she finds Susie's body lying on the floor obviously raped and murdered. And thus this issue ends.

I honestly expected this to be exceptionally bad and it wasn't. There are some story hiccups and a few times when the artwork looked like it was drawn by a high schooler, though less so technically and more so in subject matter (like the following pose trying so hard to show off both her breasts and derierre that the artist broke her spinal cord in the process. Ouch!)

That said, I did like the soft grey shading effect on display throughout as well as Lethal Lita's great costume design. It's like an amalgam of Zatanna, Spawn and Powergirl with amazing '80's hair. Below is my artistic rendition of our anti-hero.

I honestly thought there would be more of a Halloween theme to this comic what with the costumes on the cover coupled with the publisher's name and logo. But that's okay, it was a good book with some strong social messages of anti-rape and violence against women. A message very relevant to our current climate with the increased awareness of instances of unwanted sexual behavior by men of power. It would be great if Lethal Lita could visit Donald Trump the next time he tries to grab something he shouldn't. Maybe Michael and Donald should come out of comic creator retirement and put out a new issue. I'd pick up a copy, guys! I couldn't find any record of subsequent issues of this book out there but if I run across another in a cheap bin I will definitely check it out. Which reminds me, be sure to see what I check out next month when I review...

Monday, October 1, 2018

Golden Dragon

Golden Dragon #1 1987
$1.50 U.S. $2.30 Canada
Synchronicity Comics San Francisco, CA.
By Ted Hales, Michael A. Martin and Marc Haines

It is just before dawn in the far off future year of 2019 when our hero Randall Gold parachutes down into the southern region of Chile. 

Gold quickly finds his way into a local watering hole to meet his contact, Ortiz. But suddenly one of the local women seems to take a liking to our man Gold!

When Lolita's "date" decides she is giving too much attention to this American he smacks her around. Gold doesn't like this one bit and starts brawling with the scum bag! Gold gets shot in the ensuing chaos and runs out of the saloon to find a place to hide before his cover is blown.

As he's laying low in the jungle he is reminded of his first tour of duty in Chile back in 1998 when he was merely eighteen years old. He and his platoon were mowed down by the enemy and Gold was the sole survivor!

He trained back to health and moved to San Francisco. It was there he stumble into an alley to see an old man in a bowler hat getting mugged by some punk rock hooligans. But this old man was too tough and instead of playing the role of victim, he turned the tables on the punks!

Gold was so impressed by this shriveled old fella's ass kickery skills that he asked to become his pupil. And luckily the old man agreed!

One day during training, the sensei told Gold he was ready to be instructed in the ways of Dragons. The Dragons of Old China represented the balancing forces of the cosmos. The White Dragon was Good, the Black Dragon was Evil and the Grey Dragon was the balance between the two.

Randall Gold soon found himself facing the White Dragon!
The dragon warned our hero of a great evil descending upon his world. An evil only he can stop! He goes on to allude to a power within Randall Gold that he will eventually recognize and use against the forces of evil. He is the world's only hope!

After Randall awoke from his vision, he found the sensei had disappeared. Randall wasn't sure what to do with himself so he turned once again to the army. Randall was offered a part in a special Army project. He agreed and was instructed to visit a secret lab. Once there he was told of a project called A.L.I.C. 

Inexplicably, Randall knew this project would awaken the power that the White Dragon had spoke of  which waited inside of  him. A power he was surely about to unlock! So without hesitation, Dr. Nils Reinhold began the procedure. The effects were staggering!

Randall Gold's essence was transferred into a metal body. A body that possessed more power and endurance than that of a mere mortal. That is why he wasn't seriously injured by the gunfire at the bar earlier in our story... Randall's a damned robot!!

Randall walked off into the night to prepare for what awaits him in the jungles of Chile the next morning. And we are treated to a slow pan away from the jungle and into... the moon? 
Okay, whatever.

The back cover is sweet. It totally reminds me of the opening screen of some old NES game that never was. I can see it all pixeled up with that cheesy old eight bit music playing behind it. I love it!

Speaking of  cheesy graphics, here is my version of the Sensei about to kick the punks' asses with a  little help from his pal the White Dragon!

Pretty fun comic that had lots of '80's staples like martial arts, punk rock baddies, robots and military action... what's not to love about that?!

Unfortunately it looks like there was never an issue two of the series so we will have to guess for ourselves what adventures await our hero, Randall Gold.

But just in time for Halloween I will be reviewing this treasure in a few weeks here at the Bewildering. Don't miss... Lethal Lita!