YANGMedium: Comic books
Published by: Charlton Comics
First Appeared: 1973
Creators: Joe Gill (writer) and Warren Sattler (artist)
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American popular entertainment of the early 1970s were replete with east-Asian martial arts. Kung fu movies abounded, and Kung Fu was also the name of a popular television show. Hanna-Barbera cartoons of the time included Hong Kong Phooey and The Amazing Chan & the Chan Clan. In comic books, Marvel had the superheroized martial artists Shang Chi, Master of Kung Fu and Iron Fist; and DC had the relatively straightforward Richard Dragon, Kung Fu Fighter. Even
Charlton Comics, always an also-ran when it came to action-hero comic book stars, had Yang, not to mention its spin-off, House of Yang.
Yang was an especially derivative series, even compared with other martial arts series, which tended to be derivative. In fact, its set-up was derived almost entirely from the Kung Fu TV show, with Yang (the only name the hero used) operating as an itinerant do-gooder in the old west, contemporary with Kid Montana, The Masked Raider and other traditional western heroes.
Yang was originally Chung Hui, the son of Chung Yuan, a Chinese mandarin whose life had been devoted to opposing evil and injustice. The old man was murdered by his arch-cnemy, Chao Ku, a slave trader whom he'd opposed on many occasions. With his dying breath, Chung Yuan charged his son with being Yang, the "good" side of the familiar "Yin-Yang" image, symbolizing dichotomies, particularly life-affirming good opposed to life-denying evil. But Yang was betrayed by Yin Li, Chao Ku's beautiful but deadly daughter, and sold into slavery to the captain of a ship bound for America.
After taking up his life as an unwilling railroad worker, Yang escaped, and began assisting the weak and oppressed of the land he'd been forced to adopt. Of course, Yin Li remained active in his life, because nothing could be more natural than a hero named Yang having an enemy named Yin (tho her evil was tempered with love, making the relationship reminiscent of Batman's with The Catwoman).
This origin story appeared in Charlton's Yang #1 (November, 1973). It was written by Joe Gill, the company stalwart who'd had a hand in creating Peacemaker, that company's version of Hercules and many other Charlton properties. The artist was Warren Sattler, whose less-extensive credits include Billy the Kid and Cracked magazine (the most prominent imitator of Mad). The title then continued on a bimonthly basis, with Gill and Sattler as its regular creative team.
Yang's spin-off, House of Yang, started with a July, 1975 cover date. There, Gill and artist Sanho Kim (Cheyene Kid, Dr. Graves) told the story of Yang's cousin, Sun Yang, inheriting Chung Yuan's estate. Also trying to claim it was Eva Ku, Yin Li's half-sister, whom he defeated, but who returned to try for it again and again.
House of Yang lasted six issues, and the original Yang series lasted 13. Both were gone by the middle of 1976. They were reprinted a couple of years later by Charlton's subsidiary, Modern Comics (Doomsday + 1, Vengeance Squad), but by that time the kung fu fad was long over.