Bruce Lee (#1 – 6) – Mike Baron

3 out of 5

Yes, that was definitely a Mike Baron comic, in which “story” constitutes a free-flow association from A to B to C, with no clear beginning / middle / end sense of rise and fall… And yet works anyway, because Mike does keep his eye on his characters, and does generally maintain some kind of link that carries through; in this case, a fictionalized Bruce Lee gets enough notoriety to attract students to his newly opened Jeet Kun Do school in issue 1, then gets distracted by a film career in issues 2 through 5, leading to a recommitment to that school in issue 6 – resolution, see?

It’s a very funny way to write comics, as it doesn’t hand-hold through plot exposition and any especially deep character building; it’s as though Baron just drops you in the middle of his stories, without much context, and then lets you hang out. Not necessarily because he “trusts” his reader, but because it feels like Mike doesn’t think dolling up things matters, when the tale being told is, on its surface, pretty straight forward.

On its surface, and beneath in this case, which is fine – not expecting much more from a comic that just wanted to showcase some Lee philosophy, and Baron’s and artist Val Mayerick’s – looking great, and particularly 90s muscled-up here – appreciation for martial arts. The fight scenes are, typical of Baron, fantastic, and that free-flow storytelling definitely vibes with an 80s B-movie goofiness, kicking ass in barfights and against real-estate swindling villains and drug barons… A hilarious amount of subplot clutter gets swept to the side in favor of always moving forward, but, y’know, that’s a Mike Baron comic.