Bruce Lee is back at it thanks to Darby Pop Publishing and the story is actually pretty good. The comic reads like a Saturday morning cartoon in many ways, but dammit issue #1 was fun. Can it hold up though? Is it good?
Bruce Lee: The Dragon Rises #2 (Darby Pop Publishing)
So what’s it about? The official summary reads:
Alive and… well… alive in North Hollywood. Bruce Lee remains both a fish out of water – and a man on the run. As Bruce and Joe try to unravel the mystery of Bruce’s previous imprisonment, villainous alliances shift, and the stakes only rise. Of course, there’s also the small matter of Jax and Wren and their missing father. Is there a connection? Is Bruce still wearing Joe’s boxers, circa 1973?
Why does this book matter?
The first issue was well paced, did a great job setting up the story, and was a lot of fun. With all of those things combined it felt like quite the bang for your buck.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Writer Adam Beechen gives the children characters more to do in this issue, as well as fleshes out their parental issue. That helps give Bruce Lee more reason to help and care about the little tykes. They actually get to go on their own adventure so to speak to steal some cereal due to Joe’s terrible cooking. It’s plots like this that make you realize this is a comic for a younger crowd, but it’s still well paced and well told so adults can dig it too.
Meanwhile Bruce Lee gets to kick some ass in this issue. Joe and Bruce go on a mission to find out why he was put into a box and that leads to action with a slightly comedic vibe. Because of the subject matter and the lighter tone this series feels almost like Power Rangers. Characters fight, but we aren’t supposed to take it too seriously.
The art by Brandon McKinney continues to deliver a cartoony feel, but still maintains a realistic tone for the characters. His ability to draw Joe–especially his reactions–helps sell the funny moments and lighten the mood considerably. You can also tell McKinney is making sure the fight moves are accurate–many of which look textbook in nature, which helps keep the fighting realistic.
It can’t be perfect can it?
This issue feels like it’s retreading a bit too much for new readers. While the first issue did a great job setting up and progressing the story this issue is more like the first 10 minutes of a 30 minute show rather than a full episode. It doesn’t help that Bruce Lee’s flashback spoils the cliffhanger.
The kids story in this issue is rather throwaway too. The premise of their conflict is silly: a store manager hears them knocking things off shelves then rushes to arrest them for it. Ultimately, it doesn’t play for laughs enough to warrant the pages it gets. Maybe if it was more comedic, but as it stands it’s more for the younger ones to contemplate the kids getting caught.
Gonna go kung fu fightin’.
Is It Good?
While I’ll come back next month to see what happens next, I can’t say the slower pace is doing this series any favors. The all ages feel works though, and it maintains its-smirk inducing moments with kung-fu fighting.