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Review: Bruce Lee: The Dragon Rises

As a longtime cinephile, I have been enamored with Kung Fu movies. I remember as a kid watching Kung Fu Theatre, every Saturday afternoon, with my cousins in our house in New York. These stories with their badly paced English dubbing, usually had everything else going for it. The action, the stars, the special effects, and the story. I never really knew who any of the actors were until one of my uncles introduced us to Bruce Lee.

The very first movie, we saw of this venerable legend, was the impressive Way Of The Dragon, a slow burner at first, but as soon as Lee enters the film, his presence was magnetic. The man commanded every scene he was in and the way he beat a then unknown Chuck Norris, was a scene all of us cheered on. Of course, we went on to see the rest of his movies, and to this day, in some form or another, have some piece of his memorabilia in our houses. As much as those movies still stand up, one can only imagine what else he could have created, if he only lived a little bit longer. In Shannon Lee’s Bruce Lee: The Dragon Rises, fans get to live a fantasy where he still lives.

We find Lee in a government facility where he has been asleep for forty years, as he wakes up to a world, much different than what he knew as he teaches an abusive Sensei, who favors Chuck Norris the correct way to treat his students. Soon the same shadowy organization lead by a mysterious woman known as Katya, is looking for him and a friend from the past and two kids just so happens to find hm as well, who helps him get acclimated to present day.  This leads to Lee finding out what the organization is up to and to find the father of the two kids. By book’s end, they find the kids’ father but leaves Katya even more powerful than ever.

Overall, an entertaining story that gets the reader to know who Bruce Lee the person is, in this rather fun plot. The story is relatable, funny, and fantastical. The art is striking and vivid. Altogether, a great story which will have readers looking for their old VHS copy of The Chinese Connection.

Story: Shannon Lee, Jeff Kline and Adam Beechen
Art: Brandon McKinney, Michael Montenat, Zac Atkinson, Troy Peteri, Steve Blackwell and Bernard Chang
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Bruce Lee: The Walk of the Dragon

Philosopher/teacher/real-life superhero Bruce Lee is back. And, let’s be honest, the world needs him now more than ever. Taking a brief respite from battling an otherworldly evil, Bruce Lee attempts to navigate modern-day Southern California despite still suffering from amnesia and having been “out of the loop” for over 45 years. Unfortunately, what was supposed to be a simple “lunch run” soon turns into a comedy of errors involving mistaken identity, a Film Festival,” and the pokey.  And despite never being one to initiate fisticuffs, Bruce continues to find it difficult to both hide his martial arts skills – and keep his shirt on.

I’ll admit, I have not read Darby Pop Publishing‘s previous Bruce Lee comics so came into this one-shot cold. Written by Nicole DubucBruce Lee: The Walk of the Dragon is an interesting comic. Partially because, I’m not sure what the point of it all is. Part follow up to the previous comic and maybe the lead in to what’s next the comic really is Bruce Lee back from being capture for all this time trying to get a sandwich and then a series of errors.

While the comic has its moments it also feels like it’s a chapter in something more. It doesn’t do a good job explaining the situation for new readers well into it. It also doesn’t answer any questions about Lee’s amnesia about his life. So, as a one-shot, it’s an odd duck. As an issue for an ongoing series, it’d make complete sense. Which is part of what’s frustrating and fascinating about the comic. As issue #5 or #6, it’d work as a solid transition to the next arc. But it’s not that. It’s a one-shot and with that I expect a story with a beginning, middle, and end. It has those things but none of it is really satisfying. A lot is left open. Again, it’s rather odd.

The art by Brandon McKinney and color by Zak Atkinson looks solid. There’s nothing bad about it all and at times there’s some great panels that attempt to catch the speed of Lee and actually does so in some ways. When Lee disarms a mugger particularly stands out in how it’s handled. But at other times the action is missing something like when he jumps into a moving bus. The comic too could benefit from some more dynamic panel use. It’s broken here and there but mainly sticks to boxes and rectangles. The lettering by Troy Peteri is generally good. There’s a few moments where situations called for different choices for example a mugging that’s just normal text for the victim.

There’s nothing truly bad about the comic and if you read the previous volume published by Darby Pop your opinion will vary greatly. But, as a one-shot it doesn’t do what’s expected and that’s tell a complete story. It’s a chapter of a longer story marketed as something different.

Created by: Shannon Lee, Jeff Kline Story: Nicole Dubuc
Art: Brandon McKinney Color: Zak Atkinson
Letterer: A Larger World Studios’ Troy Peteri Design: Steve Blackwell
Story: 6.5 Art: 6.75 Overall: 6.65 Recommendation: Pass

Darby Pop Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review