Review: Johnny Squares Up With Daniel-San At All-Valley (Again) In ‘Cobra Kai #4’

by Brendan M. Allen

It’s the final showdown! The tournament has arrived, and Johnny aims to defend his honor against the upstart from Jersey as victory and love hang in the balance!

Cobra Kai #4 kicks off at the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament. In case there are folks still out there that haven’t seen the first Karate Kid movie, we’re going to go ahead and leave that there. Don’t ever say I’m one to hand out 36 year old spoilers.
And there begins my issue with the way this four piece mini ends. I snatched this sucker up for my review queue from the first issue. I love The Karate Kid. I love the YouTube Premium Cobra Kai series. This IDW mini was supposed to bridge some of the gaps between the end of the film and the beginning of the video series.

Even if this was a complete retelling of the film, from Johnny Lawrence’s perspective, it would have been fantastic. If you watch the movie again, watch how many of those scuffles with the new kid weren’t necessarily Johnny’s fault. Johnny was a huge dick. Don’t get me wrong, but the two clashed way more times than was really necessary, and Daniel was an instigator in at least half those incidents. 
We got some of that Johnny spin in the first couple issues. And then, by the time chapter three rolled around, we were basically rehashing the film, with a few scenes thrown in from the current TV storyline to tie the two properties together. This finale is almost shot for shot the last twenty minutes of the first film.

I have really been digging the art by Kagan McLeod and Luis Antonio Delgado. There’s an eighties sort of charm to the slightly caricatured likenesses. Reminds me of Jack Davis’ work in MAD Magazine, which hits all the nostalgic points from the same era as the film.  
It does get a little dicey in the action sequences. The fights flow reasonably well, except where they don’t. There’s one spot that took me completely out of the moment, in the Tommy/Danny match, where Daniel-san’s left fist just kind of… appears from his right shoulder to land in Tommy’s chest. Point! Winner!

Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues started off really strong. I was really excited to see what direction this thing would go. Fantastic show, iconic film. Put those two together, expand on some scenes, show some tender character moments for the heel and some shithead moments for the face. Give us growth and digression. Flip the thing in ways we wouldn’t expect.
Sounds AMAZING on paper, and the first couple chapters looked like they would really send it home. But somewhere between the second and third issues, the thread got lost, and then this last piece is pure déjà vu. That’s not to say it’s not good. It just isn’t quite what I expected. Great nostalgia piece, but not a whole lot of new ground covered.

Cobra Kai #4, IDW Publishing, released 10 June 2020. Written by Denton J. Tipton, art by Kagan McLeod, color by Luis Antonio Delgado, letters by Neil Uyetake, edited by Tom Waltz with assistant editors Megan Brown and Riley Farmer.

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