Thursday, May 17, 2007

Odds And Ends AKA Mo’ Basketball Mo’ Comic Books Mo’ Homicide

Someone who remembered me from over at JustBBall sent me my old Roll Call post link, check it out here. In less than a week some random sequence of ping pong balls will determine the future of the Celtics franchise, somehow I feel the the ghosts of #2 and #3 will make it possible for the C’s to secure #1 next Tuesday. The Celtics have done pretty well in recent years as far as the draft goes, picking up some real gems and steals (see pics of who I'm referring to below). Free agency has been hit and miss and as for offseason signings that that get summer league tryouts go, it’s a list of mediocre cats and some dudes that put asses in the seats at the Shaw’s Summer League. Omar Cook had two good games and was sent back to the NBADL in favor of J.R. Bremer (a PG that shot first and passed never, he’d drive down to the 3 point line and either pull up or give the ball to Truth or ‘Toine). Oliver Miller was brought in one summer to play center, he played pretty well but so was so damn fat (He’d recently lost 25 pounds)! He brought the ball up, made no look passes, blocked shots, dunked, everything. At the end of the summer he went back to the Harlem Globetrotters.

In 2003, the final season the Shaw’s/Reebok Summer League ran in Boston (it moved to Las Vegas in 2004 because the DMC took up all of the hotels in Boston..they had such a great turnout that they never moved back) they brought in Lenny Cooke, who had been tearing up the USBL with the Brooklyn Kings as well as the Rucker was brought in by Leo Papile the same year Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers came to Boston along with Darius Miles, Dajuan Wagner, DeSagana Diop and Carlos Boozer (For full recaps of that summer league look here ). The Celtics played the Cavs and they didn’t let Lenny Cooke on the court to guard him. The final Celtic game of the season had the 6’6 Lenny Cooke score 14 points, grab 13 rebounds, block 3 shots and not turn the ball over once while in the Cavs finale, LeBron James was ripped repeatedly by Juan Dixon and Steve Blake (he was running the point) and he struggled mightily scoring 9 points on 2-14 shooting with 2 rebounds (Boozer had 18!) and only 1 assist against 7 TO’s. The entire arena chanted “Sign Lenny Cooke!” after the game (didn’t happen, he went to the Philipines and Japan, breaking all types of scoring records...then his leg) and chanted “Overrated!” after LeBron’s game (the Cavs are now 1 game away from the Eastern Conference Finals).

That same game I saw something that horrified me. The Celtics had brought in Kornel David (billed as the German Michael Jordan at one point in time), who began feeling himself all of a sudden (only God knows why) and decided to go one on one against Brian “Veal” Scalabrine. He requested a clear out to go against should’ve seen the looks on the other player’s faces when he did that! He couldn’t get around Scal, but Scalabrine couldn’t get the ball from him either. David threw up three quick ball fakes (that Scal didn't go for at all) and then tried to drive. He dribbled the ball off of his foot out of bounds and fell on his face in front of the stands. He was yanked imeadiately. I was sitting next to some kids that spent the entire game heckling was the funniest shit I ever heard. Just our luck, the Celtics signed him the second he became a free agent.

The other thing I remember was that Marcus Banks looked like a world beater out on the court, no one could stop him one on one and he was hitting the open man time and time again. He also played some great defense, he (Banks) yelled at Lenny Cooke a lot who looked clueless when he he to play team defense and rotate or guard and pick or screen and roll. He wasn’t ready for prime time. Damn shame, too. The Celtics team that final summer in Boston was HOT GARBAGE. The Cavaliers, 76ers and Wizards had at least 3 or 4 major contributors on their rosters. We had scrubs running on our squad...what a way to go out, out like a sucker.

I also promised that I’d post up some old slept on comic books, but for today I’ll just drop some jewels on y’all. Back in 1971, a man named Tony Wong started up a company called Jademan Comics that specialized in Kung Fu comic books. In July 1988, the legendary Chinese artist and comic book publisher launched Jademan Comics in the US selling translated versions of his highly successful Chinese titles. The first collector’s item issue he released was the Kung Fu Special that told the back stories of the four launch titles, Oriental Heroes, The Force Of Buddha’s Palm, Drunken Fist and Blood Sword. The company did surprisingly well in America with a new readership and they launched two additional titles later (around 1990), Blood Sword Dynasty and Iron Marshal.

Oriental Heroes told the stories of 7 young heroes versed in different forms of Kung Fu. The story was based mostly around the Three Kings, Tiger Wong, Gold Dragon and Young (Little) Dragon. Young Dragon was a Bruce Lee clone who always was taking on challengers in public. Tiger Wong was his half brother and a master of Nine Suns Kung Fu which focused on kicks and inner strength. Gold Dragon was a blond ladies man who practiced Golden Armor Kung Fu that made him impervious to pain and focused on physical strength. At the start of the US version of the book, Young Dragon gets killed in an ambush and Gold Dragon and Tiger Wong kill the dudes that merked Young Dragon. Then they travel with their boy, a Kung Fu genius monk named Guy who practiced Buddha’s Palm Kung Fu to chase Chan Ou Wan, the man who orchestrated Young Dragon’s murder. The story of the war between White Sect, Black Sect and Red Sect of the Global Cult ran for 55 issues. The 2006 Hong Kong film “Dragon Tiger Gate” was inspired by this comic book.

The Force Of Buddha’s Palm intertwined two stories, one new one and one Chinese legend. A n orpan named Nine Continents is raised by monks, taught Buddha’s Palm Kung Fu and becomes one of the greatest martial artists in the world. The story centers around the legend of two twins plucked from their dead mother’s wombs. One was raised by two princesses who were Kung Fu masters and the other was raised by a group of murderous Kung Fu masters. Eventually, they both realize that Nine Continents is their uncle (Nine Continents was the best friend of their father White Jade better understand, just buy the Kung Fu explains EVERYTHING.)

Drunken Fist tells the story of spear expert Chek Fai, master swordswoman Drunken Kid and Wong Mo Gei AKA Drunken Fist (he mastered the Drunkard’s Punch). The three master martial artists clash with Mo Gei’s mortal enemy the Invincible Swordsman. The Swordsman and Mo Gei have a 4 day clash in which Mo Gei loses his memory, meanwhile back at the ranch his newborn baby is snatched from his dead mother’s womb (again?) by a monk who believed the child to be the reincarnation of the Living Buddha AKA The Spiritual Child. Eventually, Wong Mo Gei ends up a prisoner of his enemy, the Invincible Swordsman and Chek Fai and Drunken Kid search for Wong’s son at the same time the Invincible Swordsman seeks the holy child as well.

Blood Sword told the Chinese legend of a swordman named Hero who was cursed to hurt everyone he loved. He was born to a legendary swordswoman (modeled after Golden Swallow from the classic film “Come Drink With Me”) and a legendary blacksmith father. He wielded the family heirloom, a scarlet blade called the Blood Sword. It followed the story of Hero’s travels after he avenged the death of his parents and became an outlaw.

Blood Sword Dynasty tells the story of Hero’s son (yup, he’s a deadbeat dad...he couldn’t stick around because of the curse) who follows in his father’s footsteps. Unbenownst to him, his father is watching him every step of the way on his travels. The 1999 Hong Kong film “A Man Called Hero” was inspired by these two comics.

Iron Marshal was about two men that were raised as brothers in an orphanage. One, Iron Marshal, is a kung fu hero that fights on the side of the Emperor in 10th century China. The other, the evil murderer Bloody Duke leads the barbarian hordes that try to overtake the kingdom. This was a great title (illustrated by the legendary Fok Lung Khoo) that ran for 41 issues.

Unfortunately, after 55 months and several problems producing the English version of the books got to become major headaches, (Chinese reads from right to left, not left to right, so cels were flipped, resulting in the artists having to redo logos, clothing designs, etc.) it was looking like the end of the road for Jademan's run in the US. Each US version of Jademan titles was 64 pages, the Chinese versions were only 32 pages long. This meant that TWO of the Chinese issues had to be smashed together, have their cels flipped, retouched and then repenciled EVERY issue. All of these factors on top of the demanding task of translating Chinese to colloquial English became a huge chore. The production of the books was becoming a financial strain so Tony Wong and Jademan closed out the English titles storylines and focused on their Chinese comics instead. For more info on Jademan Comics Oriental Heroes title look here . One.


Anonymous said...

It's wonderful to see the old Jademan comics getting some props. I wish i still had all of mine, or at least knew where to find some synopsis or TPB's. Thanks

Anonymous said...

I loved all these jadedman titles, i don't think the artwork has been mactched, especially loved the special effects during intense fight scenes. I just wish they would release the titles in Graphic novel form, ie like the Akira comic books. I would certainly buy every single one.

Come on it!!

Ray (london?

Anonymous said...

I have a love for these books and own them all but the Oriental heros set. You heard me right I have been able to enjoy these books when ever I have wanted and even after as many years as I have had them they just dont ever seem to get old