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...

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