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CSBG Archive

I Love Ya But You’re Strange – Chuck Norris #1, the Greatest Comic Book Steve Ditko Ever Drew?

Every week, I will spotlight strange but ultimately endearing comic stories (basically, we’re talking lots and lots of Silver Age comic books). Here is the archive of all the installments of this feature. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have a suggestion for a future installment!

Reader Chris Wunderlich suggested this legendary debut issue of Chuck Norris and the Karate Commandos, written by Jo Duffy and penciled by Steve Ditko, who finally got a good comic book to draw with this 1987 masterpiece. Art Nichols inked the issue.

Just like Bruce Wayne, Chuck Norris has a young ward. His ward is named “Too Much” because he shouts “Too Much!” a lot. Norris chose him over other kids at the orphanage with names like “Good Grief!” and “Mommy, No!”

Too Much is probably a little too into Chuck Norris. Remember, he is Norris’ ward, and yet during class, what does he do? STARE AT A PICTURE OF CHUCK NORRIS!

I would like to tell you that the daydream Too Much is about to have is not actually representative of what the Super Ninja looked like, but I can’t tell you that (Super Ninja’s design is no Fancy Dan, that’s for sure!)…

Too Much’s teacher yells at him for sleeping through class and then goes into her lesson for the day. Here, Jo Duffy does an actually really amazing job. She works in an actual novel (James Clavell’s brilliant 1964 short story, “A Children’s Story,” which had been republished as a short novel a few years earlier at the time) and actually accurately COMPARES THE NOVEL TO CHUCK NORRIS’ SUPER CRUISER!!!!

Too Much is admonished again by the teacher. This time, he is forced to go in front of the class to talk about the book, which he has not actually read. Luckily for Too Much, the class is then taken over by ninjas working for Super Ninja who want Chuck Norris to give up the Super Cruiser in exchange for the students. We cut to Chuck and his commandos as they are notified of the situation. They quickly react by seemingly giving in to the demands…

I just love Too Much’s reaction there.

Chuck sends Pepper, because of course a woman couldn’t threaten ninjas, right?

I love that the ninja’s thoughts were exactly the same as what the little kid shouted.

Chuck now kicks some ass. Ditko is actually just as good of an action artist as he always was….

However, one of the ninjas pulls a gun…

Well done, Jo Duffy. I can’t remember the last time I read a comic that worked in an actual acclaimed novel into a comic like that to get kids to read a good book. You rock, Jo!

And, of course, Steve Ditko is always great. This is probably his second-best #1 of all-time (Speedball #1 is, of course, #1).

Thanks a lot to Chris for the suggestion! If YOU have a suggestion for a future edition, e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com!

44 Comments

Correction: Steve Ditko didn’t draw the Chuck Norris comic. The Chuck Norris comic created Steve Ditko. ;)

I think I actually had this comic as a kid (I know I had a Chuck Norris comic, but I can’t remember if it was this particular one). And I also had some of the toys based on the characters.

So this is what “Sidekicks” was adapted from.

“Norris chose him over other kids at the orphanage with names like “Good Grief!” and “Mommy, No!””

Damn.

Ditko also drew Power Rangers in 90s. Nuff said.

Looks like an unused script for Walker Texas Ranger.

That can’t possibly be Chuck Norris. That character has facial expressions!

Seriously, though, always interesting to see Ditko inked by somebody else.

Is Too Much required to refer to Chuck Norris by both his first and last names at all times? Would just calling him “Chuck” be too familiar?

Grandmaster Chuck Norris is my idol and true role model.

I”m glad that Chuck Norris invented comics.

This has been linked to on the front page of CBR, meaning it will attract a lot of attention from non-CSBG regulars. I’m interested to see how long it takes for someone in the comments to totally miss the sarcasm and attack Brian for saying this is the best Ditko comic ever haha

I didn’t realize this until almost the very end, but I actually owned this comic and read it many times. Yet somehow the story still failed to leave any lasting impression on me outside of the awesome fight choreography by Ditko. Also, I never did get why Norris was bleach blond in these books.

Here is the cover in color. One thing I found odder about the book is that they got the hair color right on the cover:

https://d1466nnw0ex81e.cloudfront.net/n_iv/600/607863.jpg

Chuck Norris is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.

So was this a toyline tie in or just an attempt to adapt Norris to comics? A shame it didn’t last longer–it could easily have been the Adventures of Jerry Lewis of the 1980s.

It was a tie-in to both a toy line and a cartoon series. You can probably find clips of it on Youtube.

Oh god, that’s right, I had one of the Chuck Norris toys. With some kicking action.

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Ditko also drew some Go Bots stuff, and I think maybe some Transformers storybooks.

How does doing the artwork for crappy toy tie-ins relate to an Objectivist outlook on life?

Back in the 80′s, Steve Ditko worked on more obscure Marvel tiles such as MACHINE MAN, ROM, THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF INDIANA JONES, and even stuff like this toy line tie-in comic. Pretty much everything but the Spider-Man titles, of course…

With Ditko, I found that you either like his art or you don’t. It’s never been my cup of tea. (Those damn hands are just too weird for me.) When I was a kid, I dreaded getting Ditko or Carmine Infantino on any book I collected. It was only later on that I learned how these guys were considered legends within the biz. Same goes for Jack Kirby, by the way.

The only comic that will roundhouse kick you if you criticize it while reading it…

Now if only Marvel had done an “American Ninja” tie-in comic in the 80′s, that would have been beyond awesome.

@Clutch

I know what you mean about looking out for certain artists as a kid. I hated anything drawn by Infantino as a kid (and he’s still not a favorite, even now…) as well as the Leonardi issues of X-Men. And it’s only in the last few years that I have developed a true appreciation for Kirby’s art.

@Travis

Maybe because toy tie-in comics tended to keep the good vs. evil conflict as very basic terms, with little to no ambiguity.

For example here, Chuck Norris = good. Ninjas = bad. There are no shades of gray in Chuck Norris’ world.

Kirby worked on Machine Man too, go figure. It was knowing Kirby mostly from his 1970s stuff that made me wonder why he was supposed to be so awesome (what, the guy who did Devil Dinosaur and that bad Black Panther series?).

So this was before Chuck Norris became a right-wing fundamentalist nutbag?

Wow! We never got to go to any International Anti-Terrorism Conferences when I was at school. I’m just sayin’…

I love how Chuck takes off Too Much’s hat and whispers to him “Take off your hat until after school, Too Much.” It’s a nice touch. I wonder if Ditko or Duffy put that in?

A Horde of Evil Hipsters

December 28, 2012 at 6:15 am

“So this was before Chuck Norris became a right-wing fundamentalist nutbag?”

Well, he _is_ drawn by Steve “Ayn Rand fanboy number 1″ Ditko here. Sort of appropriate.

My favorite Steve Ditko work from around this same time period was Speedball. That comic series seemed like a lot of fun when I was 12 years old. (Probably why I hated Penance so much… ugg). I’ll have to dig it out of my longboxes one of these days to see if it stands the test of time…

Why does the girl’s outfit change from being a skirt to being pants two panels later?

“So this was before Chuck Norris became a right-wing fundamentalist nutbag?”

He’s been that way since the beginning of Walker Texas Ranger and probably a few years before but I bet if he and Ditko met they’d bond over ragging on all the “welfare cheats.”

Ditko’s a wonderful artists but the Ayn Rand stuff makes my bullshit detector go off whenever I read his essays and stuff.

Eric, I was thinking the same thing.
I think the Rambo Force of Freedom ‘toon/toyline came out about the same time.

And here we go with the politics. I actually came here after reading some news sites, hoping to purge politics from my brain and just enjoy some ridiculous but innocuous comics fun.

Same. It sure sounds like a group of tolerant, happy liberals are on the warpath here.

i love how after doing every thing he can to avoid learning the lesson by day dreaming of chuck norris. too much winds up having to in the end read the book mostly because the karate commados liked it. also love the look of embarsement on his face. and can not believe the legendary steve ditko drew the issue proving he was not totaly out of main stream comics back then

“So this was before Chuck Norris became a right-wing fundamentalist nutbag?”

Libturd spotted…

“Kirby worked on Machine Man too, go figure.”

Kirby created Machine Man in his ’2001 A Space Odyssey” series.

People responding to name-calling with name-calling? No wonder I love politics.

What the heck is going on in that first panel with Wolf? The steering wheel has disappeared and, even if the perspective is right above it, that front seat must be HUGE. What’s more, Pepper’s only wearing a skirt in that one panel, switching to jeans for the rest of the comic.

P. Boz ~ “People responding to name-calling with name-calling? No wonder I love politics.”

Agreed! I especially like the guy who claims (“same”) he also comes here to get away from the political spewing, then says “a group of tolerant, happy liberals are on the warpath here”. Ah yes, glad to see you are above, or put off by the political attacking.

Pepper was obviously wearing an image-transducer that made it look like she was wearing a skirt, in order to complete her “helpless young girl” image. Once her cover was broken, she revealed jeans tucked into boots (the international pants/footwear combo of ass-kicking kung-fu).

All joking aside, have you ever seen a creepier face than that panel where Too Much asks “You want to come over tonight and practice karate with me?” The super close-up, the wide-eyed stare, the sudden appearance of age lines making him look like he’s in his mid-thirties… if I was that other kid, I would have crapped myself.

This Chuck Norris…

….he is formidable!

i loves how super ninja didn’t know a thing about nunchakus
and how all ninjas have guns, so out of character!

I just noticed:

There is a question mark in the title of this post that is unnecessary.

That is all.

A comic based on an eighties cartoon that ends with everyone laughing at something that isn’t funny! Now *that’s* dedication to a format!

If I recall correctly, in the series finale, Super Ninja was unmasked and revealed to be Paula Poundstone.

I think that in his depiction of Wolf, Ditko has really hit his stride. I will presume that the Super Cruiser’s “marvelous gadgets” include a taxidermy kit and a ballista of some sort, capable of launching a stuffed dog through a car window at a pair of suitably startled ninjas.

Wow, Pepper wasn’t kidding about having a “twin” brother. I kind of got the impression that even IDENTICAL twins gave up on the dressing-the-same schtick before entering junior high. The only reason for fraternals to pull that crap is if they also share a bed.

I haven’t read a lot of Ditko stuff, so someone help me out here – does his philosophical orientation in some way discourage him from drawing people with their mouths fully closed? Except for a few panels, it looks like everyone’s always talking at once.

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