Another quasi-super hero title from the Modern Comics 3-Bag assortment was JUDO MASTER–an odd combination of World War II adventure, real-life martial arts instruction and super heroics. It honestly was a bit of a dull strip–but it had a guy in a costume in it, and so i was interested as a kid. This particular issue is four or five earlier than the previous one I had read, and sets up Judomaster’s sidekick, Tiger.
It’s actually the second part of a two-part outing, an occupational hazard with the Modern books. I don’t think I’ve ever read the first half of this yarn in all the intervening years–and now I’m suddenly curious about it, I’m going to have to look it up. Anyway, last time out, after a furious battle with the Smiling Skull, Judo Master was left blinded, The young boy called Tiger saves Judomaster’s life and leads him away from harm.
An operation will restore Rip Jagger’s sight, but he’s still under suspicion of being a traitor, and this causes him to spiral into a fit of depression about his role as Judomaster. Overhearing Rip express his doubts to himself, Tiger lays into him–and from there, goes straight to General Hawkins with a proposal: if Rip Jagger won’t fight on as Judomaster, then he’ll do it.
Hoping to guilt Jagger into picking up his mantle again, Hawkins agrees, and so Tiger heads out with the other Guerrillas for special training in the art of judo. Rip remains back at base, waiting for his bandages to come off to see if his sight has returned. General Hawkins tells him of an important mission on which he is needed (assuming that his eyes have recovered): Japanese forces control a narrow waterway necessary for the transport of Allied troops. Rip gives Hawkins no answer as the surgeon arrives to remove his bandages.
As the mission is about to get underway, Judomaster appears! His eyes have healed, as has his fighting spirit, and he’s ready to get into the thick of things again. He accepts Tiger as a partner, and the boy is outfitted in his own similar costume. The two masked figures will lead the guerrillas on an attack to recapture the waterway.
The assault goes off like clockwork, and is almost prosaic in its depiction, not a great thing for what purports to be an action comic. As the enemy stronghold is destroyed, Judomaster and Tiger leap over the edge into the waterway far below to make their escape. Judomaster is picked up by his allies, but Tiger is not so lucky. He’s spotted in the water by enemy forces, including Judomaster’s old enemy the Mountain Storm. And that’s where we go out To Be Continued…
The back-up story features Dick Giordano’s one-handed private eye Sarge Steel, here cast in more of an espionage role. Here, Steel contends with the sinister Satana Noir in order to safeguard a friendly foreign ambassador. And like the lead story, this one is also To be Continued–but with a cliffhanger so soft it might as well not even be there. Makes me wonder if the story hadn’t been commissioned for a longer length and was then arbitrarily cut in two.