But above all other super-villains stands one so terrible, so ominous, the sun hides behind the clouds at the mere mention of his name, and one glance at his dread visage can reputedly reduce a man to dust.
I am of course referring to Jim Shooter.
Jim Shooter was, as we all know, for many years the Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics who, with his ideas on man-management and story-telling methodology, cut a swathe of controversy throughout the industry. Anyone who reads James's blog will know he can cut a wilful and sometimes contradictory figure, one moment warming all our cockles with his heart-melting tales of his totally reciprocated love for his underlings, and the next sticking the boot into everyone in sight. He can also turn up on the blogs of people who criticise him, meaning I may be dicing with death just by mentioning him.
But, before he was The Most Controversial Man In Comics TM, he was of course a humble comic book writer and I'm pretty sure that Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #210 must've been the first comic I ever owned that was written by the man they probably don't know as Shooty.
|Soljer - a man with feet.|
In the issue's second tale, Grell instantly establishes that Karate Kid has feet, as the Legionnaire goes to Japan and discovers his late father was a notorious criminal. KK then protects his father's killer from the revenge attack of his own father's lackeys. The tale's probably most notable for the fact that Karate Kid - who's never born any resemblance to the man before - is suddenly a dead ringer for Bruce Lee; a frankly terrible idea that somewhat undermines the story. In fact the outing doesn't really feel like a Legion tale at all, being devoid of other Legionnaires and lacking any super-heroics, while not having anything happen in it that couldn't have happened in a tale set in the present day.
|Karate Kid - a man with hands.|
It's OK. I have to admit that until I recently re-read this comic for the first time since I was a kid, I couldn't remember anything of the lead story. Things came rushing back to me as I re-read it though, especially the near-fatal stabbing of Phantom Girl. The Karate Kid tale'd stuck in my mind a little better but mostly because of the hero-looking-like-Bruce-Lee thing. So, while it's all solid enough and both tales end with the sort of moral that was clearly designed to lift the spirit and impress the young at heart, I have to say, on first exposure to Shooter's Legion, that I do prefer the more expansive and dynamic world of Cary Bates and Dave Cockrum.