Judomaster #96 is a 1978 reprint originally published in 1967. No artist or writer are given for the Judomaster story, but the Sarge Steel story is attributed to Steve Skeates with art by Dick Giordano. Judomaster takes place during World War II, I think. I’m not sure what the military significance of the Judomaster’s secret island is, but there seems to be some because the “imperial warlords” (that could be WWII, right?) are investing a lot of resources to know what’s happening there. Eventually the island is discovered by the Japanese, a word that never appears in this book, although it would have been a welcome alternative to the constant use of Jap. In fact the Japanese have seemingly recruited none other than Judomaster’s girl, Suzi, to feed them secret information. This results in some bad guys storming the island, and a big martial arts showdown between Judomaster and his arch-rival, The Acrobat. The fight, which takes place in the ocean and on land, and lasts for several pages, is pretty fun. It’s also informative, explaining judo moves (I have no idea how accurately) throughout.
The fight ends with the dramatic unmasking of The Acrobat. In the last panel, Judomaster holds Suzi’s face in his hands, and tells her.
“But in the meantime . . .” seems to me to indicate an amazing judo-style make out session is about to go down. Good for them.
So seriously, was the use of jap still a thing to print in comic books in the 70s or even the 60s? I knew one guy who used that term, but he was old and had fought against them in the war. I didn’t count the number of times the word was used in this book, but if I’d taken a shot every time it occurred, I’d have never made it to the end of the story. So that was a little off-putting. Also, and I won’t make a big deal of this because the story is almost 50 years old, Judomaster is a white man, leading the good brown men against the bad brown men, and then colonizing a brown woman at the end of the story. But what do you expect for 35 cents in 1978?
How about a hard boiled detective with a left hand made of (I presume) steel. It was this story that made me double check the copyright date, as at one point Sarge Steel is lead at gunpoint into “a print shop . . . Where they put together those thin volumes of beat poetry!” Still a bit dated for ’67. Anyway, the story is fine–I like a hard boiled detective–if a bit rushed. The thing is, if your hero has a steel hand, let’s break that bad boy out! Sarge only uses it once, to block a bullet.
He even brags at one point that the bad guy is so weak that he doesn’t need to use “the heavy one” when he punches him in the stomach. Booooo! In the end, Sarge Steel gets a little cuddling as well.
With the caveats of too much racism and not enough steel fist smashing, Judomaster #96 gets two judo chops up.