Publisher: Darby Pop / Bruce Lee Enterprises
Story: Jeff Kline, Shannon Lee
Artwork: Brandon McKinney, Zac Atkinson
Release Date: 6th April, 2016
Released as a collaboration between Darby Pop and Bruce Lee Enterprises, THE DRAGON RISES gives the iconic Bruce Lee a bit of the “Captain America” treatment as he finds himself alive and well, awakening in the modern day with his memory gone and with absolutely no idea of what has happened for the previous forty years.
Obviously, the creators have opted not to take this whole premise too seriously, and we are treated to a light, cartoony affair as Bruce hooks up with a former friend to help investigate the circumstances surrounding his mysterious disappearance.
It’s all enjoyably silly, it has to be said. From Lee coming to the aid of a pair of youngsters who are being berated by an abusive sensei as they try to learn martial arts (using the Kung Fu skills he didn’t even know he had), to mysterious villain Nakamura, whose villainy is left without question when he commands his henchmen not to tip the pizza delivery guy.
The series is co-written by Jeff Kline and Bruce’s daughter Shannon Lee, and they combine to create an unsurprisingly respectful portrayal of the man himself, with his philosophy, humour and – of course – legendary martial arts prowess – very much front and centre throughout. The story itself is simple and enjoyable, and is likely to appeal to comic fans of all ages, with a heavy emphasis on comedy and action ahead of any needlessly complex plotting.
Visually, artist Brandon McKinney does an impressive job in bringing the story to life, with a bright, cartoony approach that fits perfectly with the tone of the story. While not ground-breaking by any means, McKinney’s work here serves as a steady hand to keep the story flowing forwards, and features several impressive visual set-pieces, along with a smooth grasp of choreography during the frequent Kung Fu skirmishes.
While some of the “fish out of water” stuff is a little on the nose at times, the tone stays pleasingly light throughout, giving the whole issue an engaging, ‘Saturday morning cartoon’ vibe. Fans of Bruce Lee (which I’m assuming is pretty much everyone, right?) are in for an absolute treat, and while it doesn’t perhaps have a huge amount of meat on those storyline bones just yet, this is a definitely an enjoyable opening chapter for what is a truly intriguing comic book project.
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