The Hong Kong Shuffle
Credits: Len Wein (writer), Ed Benes (penciler), Brian Garvey (inker), Clem Robins (letterer), Martin Thomas (colorist)
Summary: Gunfire arrives with Yvette in Hong Kong, unaware that his V.H.I. business associates are plotting against him. His search for Billy leads him to a factory that’s actually a front for the mobster Komodo. In his mansion, Komodo realizes that Billy is a victim of mistaken identity. However, Komodo decides Billy must be the one to pay his brother’s debt of honor. Meanwhile, Gemini searches for Ben in New York, while Lacey informs Ragnarok that Gunfire is in Hong Kong.
I Love the ‘90s: The story opens with a soliloquy on Hong Kong, reflecting on its unknown future after China regains control in 1997.
Review: Hong Kong is a great setting for an action/adventure story, even if Ed Benes is utterly incapable of selling the environment. I’m not saying I expected him to pull out a Geof Darrow, but I never saw Benes’ idol Jim Lee slack off so much when asked to draw a foreign environment. Unfortunately, Benes has replicated far more of Lee’s weaknesses than his strengths. Not that the story is a great inspiration, anyway. It’s nice to see Gunfire and Yvette travel to a new location, but the story does little to take advantage of anything that makes Hong Kong (a.k.a. “Libertarian Island”) unique. Really, we’re just getting more Asian mobsters and familial blood debts. The subplots are also dragging, with five full pages wasted on the Gemini twins getting into a bar fight and an Aunt Lacey/Ragnarok conversation scene. This wouldn’t be riveting with any artist.