It has been over 50 years since Bruce Lee died, yet his name is well known and his reputation continues to live on. When I heard a comic book with his name on it was coming in 2016 I got a little excited, partly because they could take this story in a variety of directions. Is it set in real life or from one of his movies and really why now?
Keep reading to find out and to get an answer to the question: Is it good?
Bruce Lee: The Dragon Rises #1 (Darby Pop Publishing)
Writer and daughter of Bruce Lee, Shannon Lee explains why this book exists:
I’m so excited to have our first official Bruce Lee comic book coming out for ALL AGES. It’s long been a dream of mine to introduce my father and his amazing legacy of action and philosophy to a whole new generation, and a comic book is a super fun way to do that. When I was a little, my brother used to read comic books a lot so they were always lying around the house. I would to pick them up and read them too! I always thought it was a no-brainer to have a Bruce Lee series and my dreams are finally coming true. I hope you enjoy BRUCE LEE: THE DRAGON RISES. May it make you laugh, think, take action to discover Bruce Lee and get excited to know what happens next…!!”
Why does this book matter?
More from Shannon Lee:
My father and the way he lived his life have been a daily inspiration for me, and I’ve dedicated a big part of my life to finding ways to keep his message alive in the world. I hope you enjoy our book and develop your own passion for Bruce Lee and his phenomenal legacy of courageous action!”
Now it all makes sense.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
I started reading this comic with absolutely no idea what I was in store for, but quickly found an endearing tale within. The story is based in our reality, in 2012 to be exact, where we find out Bruce Lee has been cryogenically frozen. A security guard spills some coffee and Bruce Lee awakens, but he doesn’t remember who he is! Shannon Lee and Jeff Kline write a solid story here that feels like it could be a movie. I say this because there’s a good amount of humor throughout (mostly dealing with Lee not understanding current custom and technology) and it’s not biting off more than it can chew. A mysterious woman has cryogenically frozen hundreds of people and we don’t know why yet and Bruce Lee needs to find out.
Since this is an all ages book it has a Saturday morning cartoon feel. That’s in part due to two young karate training kids befriending Bruce Lee early on. Because they try to help him out the bad guys follow them home and Lee must rescue them. Throughout the issue they roll their eyes at Lee not understanding terminology (sweet crib!) and technology (is Netflix a magazine?) which gives the issue a lighter feel. There’s still plenty of action though as Bruce Lee can fight by instinct despite the fact he has forgotten who he was. The story is told well enough that it’s actually believable too. It would only take a rich person fascinated with Bruce Lee to freeze him right?
Artist Brandon McKinny draws in a kid friendly sort of way that fits the book’s tone. The art reminds me of some of the recent BOOM! Studios nostalgia comics like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure as there are cartoony expressions and a color palette not unlike a cartoon. McKinny does a good job with Lee’s friend Joe Toomby who’s extremely friendly and emotive which usually makes any scene he’s in lighter. The action looks good and is easy to follow as well which is certainly an important part of a Bruce Lee comic. When Lee picks up the nunchucks you’ll be transported right back to his heyday as it looks cool and reminds you of those iconic moments!
It can’t be perfect can it?
One could argue the all ages feel helps sell the somewhat silly premise of this series, but regardless of that part of me wanted something a bit more gritty. This is a fun loving Bruce Lee who wants to remember who he is – and this certainly helps Shannon Lee remind us too – and may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
hardy har har.
Is It Good?
Bruce Lee is back and with it are his moves, a nice sense of humor, and a story that’ll make you wonder if it might be based on real life. You’ll want it to be, because you’ll be reminded how badass Bruce Lee was as a fighter and a person.