HERO HISTORY: The Sons Of The Tiger

by

Or – “It’s An Old-School Hero History! That Is To Say, Several Weeks Later Than I Intended To Put It Up…”

As with any project, there are inherent problems when one undertakes a Hero History. The utilization of images on paper, some decades old, causes one to spend a lot of time balancing colors, adjusting white levels, saturation and blah blah blahs. With today’s entrants, an additional question arose, debating whether or not I needed to try and colorize their original black and white adventures. I tried a couple of things, none entirely successful, before deciding that it’s actually cooler to stay with the original. Indeed, black and white kind of adds to the street-level back alley mystique of this week’s entrants. Born out of the martial arts craze spawned by Bruce Lee (the flames of which were only fanned by Lee’s somewhat mysterious death) today’s entrants occupy a special place in the hearts of old-school Marvel magazine fans. When their mentor was killed by mysterious forces, three men from different backgrounds gave up their regular lives for a mission of vengeance. In their travels through the outskirts of the Marvel Universe, they encountered forces beyond their comprehension but still fought on using only their spirit, their bare hands and sheer determination. Though never as high profile as a Wolverine or a Spider-Man, their heroism was just as important in the greater scheme of things. This, then, is your Major Spoilers Hero History of Lin Sun, late of Chinatown; Bob Diamond of Hollywood; and Abraham Brown of Harlem, known collectively as the Sons Of The Tiger!

We open our story an undisclosed number of years ago (but it’s Marvel, so let’s say “eight to twelve years in the past”) as the young lad named Lin Sun comes home from a successful martial arts tournament, hoping to show his newest accomplishment to his sensei, Master Kee. But before he can find his mentor, Lin is suddenly attacked by… NINJERS!!!!

Soundly defeated the silent assassins, Lin rushes into the dojo to find his teacher, only to discover to his horror a wrecked storefront, with his sensei bleeding on the floor. Master Kee whispers to Lin of his past, an orphan discovered in my mother’s dying arms, saved by Master Kee and raised as his own son… He tells the boy of what must happen next, even as Lin tries to protest.

Lin tearfully watches as the only parent he has ever known breathes his last. Realizing that someone had to have sent the ninjas after his boss, Lin vows to devote himself to finding and punishing those that killed Master Kee. Elsewhere in San Francisco, things aren’t going that much better for young Abe Brown, although his opponents come in a form much more prosaic than a ninja warrior. Abe’s enemies are garden variety drug pushers, but his response is no less impactful than Lin’s own…

Abe makes short work of the pushers, and is surprised by Lin Sun bringing the news of Master Kee’s demise. (It’s telling that Lin is the only one fast enough to evade Abe’s skills.) And as for Lin’s OTHER friend? Bob Diamond’s life may not have been as tragic as Lin’s or as brutal as Abe’s, but his skills are their equal. Of course, as a rising actor with more than enough scratch, his free time is spent somewhat differently as well. Cue a knock at the door…

With all three players gathered, Lin tells his brothers of the legends, the whispered tales that speak of a hidden conspiracy in the shadows, a shadow cabal that Master Kee might have stood against. Lin hands Bob and Abe the mystical jade amulets that Master Kee entrusted him for safekeeping, reminding them that they have a shared destiny. Each man takes one of the tiger’s claws, while Lin wears the head, and the three men seek out the only other school in the city that could have trained ninjas of such skill. When they arrive, they find that the man is behind not only the shadow warriors, but the drug trade as well. Gravely outnumbered, the three men grasp hands and, for the first time, truly embrace the name Sons of The Tiger!

Each Son finds his skills and strength enhanced by the power of the amulets, and each is able to channel the abilities and strength of his brothers as well. Mssrs. Brown, Diamond and Sun (I wonder if the “color coded” names have any significance?) enhanced enough to fight even a pack of ninjas (although generally, those types do tend to attack one at a time.)

The villain is dispatched by the newly found team, but Lin points out that there must be a man BEHIND the man… Someone who supplies the drug lord with his wares, and someone who ordered him to sic his ninjas on their beloved teacher. The Sons try to resume their normal lives, unsure of where they stand on the matter of vengeance (Lin wants to avenge their mentor, Abe isn’t sure, and Bob tends to waver back and forth) but the threesome finds that the quest for vengeance has chosen THEM!

And that, my friends is excellent kung fu. Probably impossible in the real world, but excellent nonetheless. The whispers lead the Sons to the trail of “The Silent Ones,” spoken of only in whispers, shadowy figures key in the illegal drug trade in San Fran as well as other nefarious deeds. When they have no luck finding the Silent Ones, Bob Diamond has a brilliant idea: Let the Silent Ones find THEM.

The Sons enter the tournament, encountering Paan, another servant of the Silent Ones, whose martial arts students are nearly as skilled as the Sons themselves (and of course, their tendency to cheat mercilessly doesn’t hurt ‘em, either.) Lin, Bob and Abe find themselves outnumbered but never outgunned, as the superior kung-fu of Master Kee allows them to show their opponents the error of their ways.

The evil Paan (the fat guy with the headband) is revealed, like Sui Ti Kama before him, to be a part of the conspiracy against Master Kee, and both men are working for the mysterious goals of the Silent Ones, but both men pale before the nefariousness of Harrison Budge, who whose machinations would change the Sons forever…

Budge quickly gasses the Sons, leaving each of them to his own personal and private hell. Lin Sun finds that his fear is Master Kee abandoning him, while Abe confronts his own past on the rough streets of Harlem. Bob Diamond is faced with the larger-than-life “movie version” of himself, afraid that the fiction will overshadow his reality. All three sons overcome their fears, only to have Budge up the ante by calling in his kung-fu-bots!

The Sons quickly realize that whatever it is the Silent Ones want, they also fear the disciples of Master Kee for some reason. But what is it that he gave them that someone might fear? WHAT? (Bonus points for anyone who picks out the obvious.) But no matter how strong their defenses are, the Silent Ones always seem to have bigger and bigger foes for them to fight…

It takes the combined abilities of all three Tigers to take down the massive Sumo, but they’re surprised when yet ANOTHER pawn of the Silent Ones appears, this one a beautiful girl with some sort of detonator device. She presses the button, but seems surprised at what happens next… Abraham Brown, on the other hand, is quick to respond to danger.

The girl tells them of her shock that her masters betrayed her, and befriends them, telling them that her name is Lotus. Bob quickly takes a protective role over her, and a tentative romance seems to bloom between them. Diamond even moves Lotus and the others into a penthouse where they can work together to take down the Silent Ones. Before they get too far, though, Bob and Lotus are out for a walk when another Silent One ambush occurs!

While Lin tends to his injured brother, Abe sets out into the night to find out who attacked his partners. Finding Bob’s Tiger amulet abandoned in the park, Abe realizes that the ambush came from an unexpected quarter. Indeed, his theory is quickly confirmed, as Bob’s attacker returns to waylay him as well, revealing herself to be…

Before she can land her killing blow, her hand is blocked by the hand of Lin Sun, who discovers the truth about Lotus. She is more than a follower of the Silent Ones, and less as well. She is controlled by an apparatus hidden at the base of her neck, a bit of machinery that could possibly kill her if removed. As Abe watches in mute horror, Lin Sun considers what to do before finally acting without mercy…

Returning home to nurse their wounds, Lin realizes that the only thing that the Silent Ones could be after are the mystical amulets themselves, the source of their enhanced abilities, and (in theory) wellsprings of unknown power. The Sons Of The Tiger finally bring their hands together for more than just battle skills, and truly meet their foes for the first time!

Suddenly, the Sons are faced with mysterious guardians from beyond, creatures who attack relentlessly and without reason. It takes the realization that the Tiger’s Sons neither need nor WANT to fight to get them past the guardians, traversing time and space to finally bring them to the lair of their Master’s ancient enemies.

Those guys kind of look like Deathstroke, don’t they? (Not without reason, mind you, as the art in Sons of The Tiger was some of the first work by Deathstroke’s creator, a very young George Perez.) Kung fu fighting occurs, with many exceeding the speed that might be attributed to a bolt of electrical energy, and indeed, filling observers with fear. Luckily, with expert timing, the Sons overcome the Silent Ones’ defenders, with fists and their minds. The Sons are even able to raise defenders of their own, an army of Tiger Sons to fight off the Silent Ones, and striking the final blow against the Silent Ones, sending their leader sprawling into the endless void…

But when the villains are defeated, Bob, Lin and Abe find that their mentor is still dead, and their hearts are still emptier for his loss. Vengeance, realizes Lin Sun, means nothing in the shadow of their newfound brotherhood. Bob and Lotus continue to grow closer, and the comely young lass becomes almost a fourth member of their team.

The Sons relocate to New York City, and Bob Diamond even goes so far as to purchase a disused Dojo for them to recondition, allowing them to teach the skills and meditation of Master Kee to a new generation of learners. Of course, it’s a little bit of a fixer-upper…

…or maybe it’s a burner-downer? Either way, they have a way to make money and stay together, which is a plus. Their first paying gig comes in the form of a martial arts demonstration at the New Troy state prison. Things quickly turn ugly as the guards prove to be corrupt, and try to force the Sons to battle in front of a cowed and badly beaten prison populace. They even threaten Lotus to get the Sons to fight, but their gambit has an unexpected result as LIN leaps forth to defend her…

Abe and Lin strike with lighting speed, but instead of attacking one another, the Tiger’s Sons attack the guards, taking them down with their superior kung-fu. A full-scale prison riot ensues, as the Sons try to maintain order. The warden declares a lockdown and the guards reply with excessive force. One of the prisoners gets in the line of fire to save the life of Lin Sun, and is gunned down in a hail of guards’ bullets.

The horrified Sons of the Tiger don’t know how to deal with Lotus, but more death comes before the whole thing ends, with the leader of the guards shot in cold blood, and racial tensions breaking out everywhere. They return home to their new dojo, and try to return to some semblance of normal life, but things just can’t be the same. Lin Sun is drawn ever closer to his friend’s girl, and Lotus seems to share his tentative feelings. When strange things begin happening next door, Lin and Lotus find an excuse to slip away together…

Lin and Lotus are a bit surprised to find that their neighbors aren’t arguing coeds or a couple throwing dishes, but a full-fledged reunion of The Enforcers, villains with a mad-on for Spider-Man who have the hero in their clutches. Lin’s sense of justice causes him to act before he realizes the true danger…

Lotus races back next door and gathers the other Sons, who combine forces to free the Webslinger from his foes…

The whole thing is revealed to be the work of a new Crime-Master, feuding with a new version of Spidey villain The Big Man. In a twist of fate only a mother (or Bill Mantlo) could love, the new Big Man is the DAUGHTER of the original, and has been carrying on a relationship with a man who turns out to be the new Crime-Master! C-M guns down the Big Man, then pulls away her mask to realize his fatal mistake…

The sight of true love destroyed leads Lin Sun to act on his feelings for Lotus, declaring his love for her and finding it reciprocated. Unfortunately, Bob Diamond finds his heartfelt confession to be the ultimate act of betrayal…

Abe rises slowly, and it seems for a moment that he is going to attack his partner, but he gathers his wits before his fists get away from him. Bob, still burning with his own humiliation, tries to taunt his brother into combat, but Abe isn’t having it…

And so the three become two, and those two cannot find any common ground. Lotus tells them that she loves both of them, and leaves into the night as well, while Bob continues to throw racial slurs and vitriol at the last friend he has. His words finally ignite a fire within Lin Sun, and the two men lash out at one another in rage…

Lin tries at first to bring his brother to his senses, but Bob isn’t listening. Lin tells him that Lotus isn’t a possession, nor is she a prize, but Bob continues attacking. Their battle continues into the night, with neither listening to anything the other has to say.

Lin overcomes Bob, and is very nearly ready to strike a killing blow against him, a blow that Bob seems to welcome. Ripping away Bob’s medallion and his own, he throws them aside, and both men realize that the dream that was the Sons seems to finally be over. But what about the amulets?

Young Hector Ayala finds them, puts them on, and is transformed into the mystical White Tiger! But, that’s another Hero History. With Abe gone, Bob, Lin and Lotus find little reason to stay together, and begin the terrible process of breaking up for real. It proves to be as awkward as it is painful…

Breakups suck, and breakups where she goes off with your best pal suck even worse…

And what about Abe? The lost son has boarded a plane to somewhere, for reasons unknown, only to have his suitcase switched for another in the airport by a mysterious beautiful woman. Once on the plan, he is ambushed by Dick Tracy characters (I am NOT makin’ this up, by the way…) who want what is in his case. Abe finds himself missing his backup as things get serious…

Their plan crashes in the desert outside the middle-eastern country of Halwan, leaving Abe and his new nemesis The Mole among the survivors. Of course, surviving a plane crash in the desert does NOT mean that one will survive the desert itself!

The contents of the suitcase are revealed to be the garb of a rebel leader known only as the Black Tiger, a legendary freedom fighter of Halwan whose significance to the people of the desert as a symbol of freedom has led them to send the woman (named, oddly enough, Brillalae) to retrieve it. Abe and Mole are pulled out of the burning sands, but still have some unfinished business…

Abe isn’t the only one who is lost (in more than a metaphorical sense, anyway) as Bob Diamond disappears while shooting a film in icy terrain. Lotus and Lin soon find that Bob may have had anger, but he still loved them enough to make sure that they were taken care of in his absence…

The Sons are separated, permanently it seems, by the flying fickle finger of fate. One left alone in New York, one in the frozen tundra, and one left certainly dead in the deserts of Halwan… Abe is certainly dead, isn’t he? Isn’t he???

Lin and Lotus refuse to give up on their friend, however and with the help of the White Tiger, they manage to find Bob Diamond alive (albeit a bit frostbitten) and even took down the unscrupulous producer responsible for his seeming demise.

Having reunited most of the Sons of the Tiger with the current bearer of the amulets, the foursome sets out to find their lost brother. The results of that quest are not yet revealed (mostly due to the cancellation of Deadly Hands of Kung Fu magazine) but Bob Diamond soon turns up as an associate of their old friend Daniel Rand (known to many as the latest possessor of the power of the Iron Fist!)

Abe, Lin and Lotus are revealed to be running the kung-fu school together, while Bob occasionally appears alongside Power Man and Iron Fist in their Heroes For Hire duties. Though he’s grown Oliver Queen’s beard and moved from movies to Broadway, our Mr. Diamond can still kung a mean fu, as a pack of ninjers quickly find out to their dismay…

And as for his partners, we finally end up learning what happened to Abe Brown after his adventures in the desert… Or, actually, due to a convenient case of amnesia, we don’t. Abe doesn’t remember anything about what happens after his initial confrontation with The Mole.

Of course, not knowing what happened doesn’t keep the government of Halwan for insisting that the United States extradite Abe for crimes created while he was ostensibly under the mask of the Black Tiger. The Sons return to the desert and find that Black Tiger is still active in the region, eventually clashing with him and finding out who is under that black mask and burkha.

Abe, Lin and Lotus continue their activities with their dojo, and Bob continues his acting career, never quite finding the appropriate moment to return to his brothers. The Sons find such success in their business that they open another school, this one located in San Francisco, where it all began. Lin and Abe travel to the West Coast to personally open the doors, only to find that things are a bit different than in New York.

The Sons are surprised to find that the San Francisco community aren’t all happy to see them, as the Black Dragon (legendary lord of the San Francisco underworld) and his flunkies have a problem… A problem named Wolverine. Apparently, 50 years ago, the man known as Logan (or not, I don’t remember any more) managed to ignite a war between various martial arts factions that continues to rage today. The Sons are NOT happy to find him in their streets, and try to step in and intervene for the good of the community…

Wolverine, predictably, refuses to leave, citing personal reasons, forcing the Sons to get involved in a citywide Gang War. Can two Sons alone successfully rise as one, their will be done, without their third? Fortunately for Lin and Abe, there’s no need to find out, as the prodigal son finally makes his way home where he belongs…

As Wolverine and the Black Dragon battle in the streets, Lin Sun, Abe Brown and Bob Diamond unite ALL the warring factions of San Francisco, uniting them all under the banner of Master Kee and vowing to step forward and defend their home…

Even as they should have been divided by their differences, the Sons of the Tiger were brought together by their similarities, and by what each man learned from the wisdom of Master Kee. Their backgrounds and natures couldn’t have been more different, but the bonds of their brotherhood overcame all of that. None of the Sons had even the slightest iota of super-powers, and they weren’t even billionaires with infinite resources and a lifetime of training to fall back on. (Okay, maybe Bob was a little bit rich, but still…) Three ordinary men stepped forward to fight against evil simply because someone had to, and in so doing found that the difference between a foe and a brother is sometimes as simple as reaching out a hand.

“When three are called, and stand as one, as one they’ll fight, their will be done…

For each is born anew, THE TIGER’S SON!”

**If you’ve enjoyed this Hero History, you might want to ‘Read All About It’ at your Local Major Spoilers! You can just click “Hero History” in the “Columns” section on the main page, and read about a hundred or so other guys and gals who are likewise awesome as heck. The adventures of the various Sons of The Tiger are published by Marvel Comics, and I highly recommend digging up the old black-and-white issues of “Deadly Hands of Kung Fu” to read them. It’s a schlep to get ‘em, but they’re worth the weight in kitsch and excitement alone.

Next up: I will continue stalking the Hero History section of the Major Spoilers forums for an expectation of where you, the Faithful Spoilerites would like to see the Hero Histories go. I make no promises (I don’t know that Goddess Dawn is gonna happen) but I’m willing to hear what you, the readers, would like to see. As always…

Watch.

The.

Skies.