Monday, February 7, 2011

Early Black Comic Book Heroes: Misty Knight (2/6) in Deadly Hands of Kung Fu 32 - "Daughters of the Dragon" (Part 1)

The last two issues of Marvel's Deadly Hands of Kung Fu featured private cops Misty Knight and Colleen Wing as 'Daughters of the Dragon', written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by Marshall Rogers. DHoKF 32 (Jan 1977) begins with Colleen and Misty in Hong Kong, hunting for a big crime boss, Vachon, the killer of Colleen's grandfather. Their investigations are not exactly covert, so it's no surprise when they start to draw some heat...

...eventually resulting in a good old Bruce Lee style full-blown kung fu melee...

...that only Bruce Lee could handle in terms of the overwhelming odds. The two ladies, having already displayed some almost superhuman skills, realize they need to get out of the situation before they're overcome by sheer force of numbers. Yet everywhere they go now they run into the head man's heavies. Each round of combat also seems to divest them of some of their clothing - much to the delight of the Hong Kong police!

Basically we're learning that Misty, as a character, is dedicated to her work of private policing, fiercely loyal to her business partner, Colleen, and that she can really kick ass, Harlem kung fu style. Unconstrained by the comics code in this magazine, Chris Claremont freely makes Misty attractive in a sensual way, her martial arts skills making her capable of defending herself against any guys who might step out of place in response to the visual stimulation of her walking around scantily clad. So as the story progresses, the half-Japanese Colleen continues her search for her grandfather's killer alone, as her features allow her to blend in with the local Chinese. To her horror she sees four American tourists murdered because they were thought to include herself and Misty. Fortunately from the point of view of the case, as she stands looking at the wrecked auto, she's next to the head man's chief goon, Chung, who, apparently without realizing Colleen is who she is, gives the game away and leads her to the harbor where she meets up with Misty. Misty and Colleen board the boat where Chung has gone for his rendezvous, only to find they've been set up.

As the fight progresses, Misty and Colleen are forced from boat to boat, away from the shore. Realizing this, they make a stand, and Colleen finds it necessary to unsheath her sword and start taking lives. We're reminded of Misty's origins in the NYPD, and that she has a bionic arm. We can also see that she's very much the liberated African American woman of the 70s.

By now we've also learned that Vachon, the man they're after, has been stockpiling weapons and mercenaries on junks out in the harbor. Knowing where at least some of the ammo is located, Misty uses her gun to set off an explosion that ends up consuming ten boats, and leaves herself and Colleen unconscious in the water, where they are finally picked up by Chung, for transport to his boss for the revenge he will now want to exact due to the fortune they've cost him.

So we're going to have to be there next ish, to find out what happens in DHoKF33, the final in the series.

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