Marvel has established perhaps the single greatest collection of fascinating characters. Many of them are iconic but a great deal are still relatively unknown to the general public. Shang-Chi would fall into the latter category. Although, it does seem like that might be changing for the Master of Kung-Fu.
Gene Luen Yang’s new series sees Shang-Chi’s past come back to haunt him as his father’s dangerous society of warriors has somehow returned. Now, it looks like the former Avenger is going to have to take matters into his own hands.
“Shang-Chi #1” gives us some context on the character by explaining the history of his father, the villainous Zheng Zu. Fans of the character will be familiar with his long rivalry with his father, but the opening pages of this first issue serve as a nice refresher/introduction to the character’s past and lore.
Shang-Chi has been through a lot since his struggles with his father. He has been a spy, a Hero for Hire and even an Avenger. But, as is so often the case with our favorite heroes, the past never quite goes away. The Five Weapons Society has returned and Shang-Chi is very much on their radar.
Now, the Kung-Fu master will have to leave his new, peaceful life behind and say goodbye to any normalcy he thought he might find and return to China to face what is simultaneously behind him and ahead of him. No matter where he goes, he can never quite escape his family troubles.
If you like your comics to be loaded with actions, this is going to be the series for you. This first issue takes the time to properly introduce the story, but even in doing so, there are plenty of panels loaded with punches and kicks. It seems pretty obvious we can expect to see a lot more of the same as this series continues.
It’s also a fairly different type of action than what you might be accustomed to seeing in a typical Marvel comic. There are now lazers, no explosions, no crazy superpowers launching nameless henchmen into other dimensions. It’s simply martial arts. Of course, if you’ve read Shang-Chi comics in the past, you were already expecting this. But for everyone else, this might be a little surprising and possibly even a little refreshing.
It’s not all about the action though. There’s something about Shang-Chi that is so effortlessly charming. He’s not the funniest lead character, like Spider-Man. He’s not the most charismatic, like Captain America. There’s just some sort of unspoken charm about the character that is sure to make readers instantly get behind him.
Now, there is one negative to this first issue for those who are not familiar with the character. He does have a fairly complex history. Yes, this issue gives some of his backstory and very briefly explains how he got to where he is, but it’s a lot to take in in just a few pages. There are a lot of characters thrown at you rather quickly and, yes, for one brief moment there is even a dragon (albeit a very famous one in the Marvel Universe). If you’re able to stick with it though, it all works itself out in the end.
“Shang-Chi #1” is available now.
Mike is a writer that has covered comic cons, theme park events, video game showcases and other fun events. He is a fan of theme parks, sports, movies, Marvel Comics and is a self-proclaimed “nerd.”