|Dragonring #1||Aircel Publishing, 1986, b&w.|
|1||By Guang Yap, additional pencils: Barry Blair.As
the series opens we find Kohl Drake, a dashing young soldier of fortune, living on
a junk in Hong Kong with his older friend Miles and his young Chinese sidekick Yué.
Kohl is hired by a man named Wharfin to take him to an island in the China Seas which
Wharfin has inherited but never seen. Upon arrival the island is found to be inhabited
by villagers and it has a large palace or castle with a "palace guard"
that (strangely) consists of attractive young women dressed in bikinis and thigh
Later, Kohl is walking along the top of the cliffs when he is approached by an old man with several arrows sticking in his back. The old man says that he has been waiting years to give Kohl a ring, which Kohl takes and puts on his finger. The old man expires without giving any further explanations.
Yué goes swimming with the local boys where his swimsuit creates some interest--the garment not being in use on that island. Here Yué meets a boy named Alex who is occidental and seems to have no family. They become friends and return to the palace together. That night Yué and Alex are watching the display of lightning during a heavy thunderstorm when a dragon-like monster attacks and drags Alex away down a secret passage. Kohl is having a tender moment with Cassandra the palace housekeeper, but drops her when he hears Yué scream. He grabs a handy naganata and heads down the secret passage, which eventually emerges into a huge underground temple where Alex is spread eagled on a stone altar, tied hand and foot and wearing only a small loincloth. He is about to be sacrificed to the demon Na'Ga! Kohl first kills the dragon-like monster and then kicks the high priest down into a bottomless pit. As the priest is clinging to the edge he sees the ring on Kohl's finger and says something like "oh, no, the DragonRing!" This is the first time we hear the word. Next morning Kohl departs, taking Alex along but leaving Cassandra behind broken hearted.
The art has an amateurish quality but is variable, some parts turned out really well. Barry is credited with "additional pencils", the art seems to be mostly by Guang Yap. The story is quite exciting and fun to read. There is a very cute pin-up on the back cover in which all the characters come out like actors on a stage and take a curtain call.
iling the South China Sea...never look back."
THE AWAKENING: Hong Kong in the harbor: Raymond Wharfin jumps into the water as Chinese stars are thrown into and kill a younger man that is with him (some kind of Bruce Lee˝Bruce Willis type).
CHAPTER ONE: Shang Chen watering hole: Kohl Drake is called in by Choo to help Raymond Wharfin. A boy listens to music and wonders if Miles is back but sees the man with a ghoul's face. A man with a ghoul's face comes looking for Wharfin. Kohl beats him with nunchuks and kicks. Wharfin is worrying about his ex˝wife. He needs a charter to Dielow Island to claim his uncle's land which he inherited. A girl called Mai Ling is kissed by Drake as he leaves. A few days later, Wharfin (a Rodney Dangerfield type), the boy Yue, and Drake with Miles find a person to sail them to the island, that nobody else will go near and that no one else believes is existing. Wharfin sings row, row, row your boat. Lawyer Lawrence Carstairs arrives with Cassandra and her army of warrior women. They are lead up many steps to the palace; the steps prompting Wharfin to tire out and want elevators. An old man dies on the island with arrows in his back and gives Drake a ring. Drake sees four figures with a boat on the island, figures he doesn't recognize.
CHAPTER TWO: Wharfin sings Oh, What a Beautiful Morning and I'm in the Money. Promising to be good, Yue is in a bathing suit for swimming. Yue finds many naked kids swimming in the "old swimming hole" which is cleaner than Hong Kong's. Yue jumps in but didn't realize the water wasn't too deep where he jumped in. A boy, who doesn't appear full Oriental, if at all, introduces himself as Alex, telling Lee, "You're gonna get yourself killed, buddy." Yue says, "Maybe...but not today." Prophetic. Mr. Winklemire, the previous owner of the island, found Cassandra in her mother's arms at the shoreline. Her mother died. The boys go diving down, wearing goggles. There are tentacles deeper. Alex (who is naked) and Yue come out but another boy is pulled under, no one else noticing. A man calls for the boy, "Chen! Chen! Where are you? Chen, come out!" Yue is starved. Someone is watching Alex and Yue, thinking that next time they won't be so lucky.
CHAPTER THREE: Yue in a ragged short cut shirt and short shorts and Alex in a loin cloth watch the lightning and rain (in a scene reminiscent of the movie 1900). Cassandra tells Drake this place holds a portal to a dark dimension. Drake hears Yue scream and tells him, when he runs to Yue, that someone took Alex (who jumped in the way to protect Yue) through a secret passage. From a suit of armor, Drake takes a weapon and follows. He spears a giant mutant lizard creature as it attacks him. Drake follows it to find Alex.Carstairs and a high priest have killed off Wharfin's relatives and he now takes Yue and Cassandra at gun point. Miles and a monkey wearing a shirt˝˝Zeek˝˝wait in the old ship wait. Drake swims into water and battles and kills an octo frog monster. He comes up to another place and finds some kind of temple. A skull faced high priest is going to sacrifice Alex to the demon Na'Ga, whose world lies at the end of a pit and who is appeased through youthful blood. The demon supplies the high priest with the para servants and power. Drake cuts off the head of the monster guard˝the giant lizard thing. He kicks the high priest who falls on the edge of the pit and is about to fall in. Drake is giving him his hand when the priest yells, "N˝no! It can't be! Not the dragon ring!" He falls into the pit.
EPILOGUE: Wharfin tells Drake that when the guards came, Carstairs took off like his pants were on fire. He asks Drake to stay for a party. Drake must find out more about the dragon ring even though Cassandra wants him to stay. He will leave but not forever.