Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Kung Fu Week! Black and White Wednesday: Sons of the Tiger/White Tiger

Hey, hey, hey! We've hit mid-Kung Fu Week, and we're far from slowing down. Dig it, Groove-ophiles!

In February, 1974 Marvel Comics unleashed Deadly Hands of Kung Fu upon fandom. The idea was to combine a kung fu comicbook with a "real" kung fu magazine; two separate mags in one, more or less. The magazine section (featuring articles on movies, books, athletes, philosophy, etc.) would be in the center of the mag--so the blushing non-comics fans could pull it out and toss it, I s'pose. I don't know anyone who ever did that, but I knew lots of kids who dug the comicbook features that bookended the articles. The lead feature was (usually) Shang Chi, Master of Kung Fu, though eventually the spot would occasionally be surrendered to Iron Fist. The back (and for sake of fairness, sometimes lead) feature, beginning with issue #1 and running most issues through (for all intents and purposes) issue #19 and 27-33 was a strip created specifically for DHoKF, Sons of the Tiger.

Sons of the Tiger was created by writer Gerry Conway and artist Dick Giordano (with more than a bit of kibitzing from editor Roy Thomas). The heroes bore more than a passing resemblance--on the surface, at least--to the heroes of Enter the Dragon. The story was more down to earth and gritty than either Shang Chi's or Iron Fist's, but did hinge on the fantastic--mystical jade pendants bequeathed upon our trio of heroes by their beloved Master Kee. The origin story was by no means any type of artistic milestone, but it was fun, well written, and beautifully drawn...

It wasn't long before Conway and Giordano were gone, but beginning with issue #7, the talented and reliable team of Bill Mantlo and George Perez took over and gave Sons of the Tiger some purpose and continuity. Still, the Sons of the Tiger never really caught on, so Marvel did something quite daring. With DHoKF #19, the Sons of the Tiger split up and tossed away their jade "tiger totems" where they were found by a young Latino by the name of Hector Ayala. Hector, who was either more intelligent or more intuitive than the Sons had been, put the three totems together and became the White Tiger, who proved to be more powerful than the all the Sons combined.

Sadly, the Tiger didn't prove to be any more popular than the Sons, despite the maturing craftsmanship of Mantlo and Perez. Mantlo and Perez let them hang around as supporting characters, and by DHoKF #27, they were back co-headlining with the White Tiger. The major legacy of Sons of the Tiger/White Tiger? A colorful (did Keith Giffen design that costume?), non-kung fu character who went by the moniker of Jack of Hearts, introduced in DHoKF #22-23 (art by Keith Giffen and Gil Kane w/Rico Rival).


  1. I guess I was one of the few, who loved the white tiger. I wasn't crazy about the Sons of the Tiger. Especially, how they broke up. WOW! I loved seeing this again. But it was pretty grim & gritty. I take it, this was the main reason it wasn't too popular back then.

    The panel with Hector barfing. I didn't get, He looked too old to be a teenager also. But it was great seeing the early George Perez art & the Jack of Hearts also. The Perez layouts were great. Even if they were a bit crude. I hated how evetually Marvel had the White Tiger gunned down! Paul Gulacy did a beautiful cover for Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man#9. Which had the White Tiger & Spidey going toe to toe on a rooftop. Thanks for the great White Tiger post.

  2. Glad you dug it, Mike! Ol' Groove has a soft spot for White Tiger, as well. He deserved better than Marvel gave him!

  3. Hey Groovster!
    I guess I always loved the oddball characters. Who always seemed to be canceled or worse. Like being killed off! Like Woodgod,the 3-D Man, Nightmare Shangi Shi's foe/half brother?, Torpedo, Paladin,the Scarecrow, Adam Warlock,Capt.Mar-vell & Nova the Human Rocket to just name a few.

    Guess that's why I dug Roy's Legion of Dead Avengers storyline so much.

  4. White Tiger
    one of the best! period!
    yeah he was gunned down in Daredevil
    but come on
    noone dies for real in the Marvel Universe!!! SO BRING BACK THE WHITE TIGER!!! (the real one not the chick)



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