REVIEW: ‘Shang-Chi,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Shang-Chi #1

Shang-Chi #1 is written by Gene Luen Yang, illustrated by Dike Ruan and Philip Tan, colored by Sebastian Cheung, and lettered by VC’s Travis Lanham. It is published by Marvel Comics. During the early Quing Dynasty, the Five Weapons Society was founded to protect China by Masters Zheng Zhu and Zheng Yi. Years later, Zheng Zhu’s son Shang-Chi has unknowingly inherited leadership of the Five Weapons society-and the enmity of his sibling Sister Hammer!

Yang’s script brings the same mix of character development and action that has served him well on the Avatar: The Last Airbender comics and Superman Smashes The KlanShang’s spoken dialogue is often punctuated with wry internal monologues, a key example being his English-he speaks with a slower cadence so that Westerners will look “at him” and not “past him.” Yang also seamlessly introduces elements of Shang’s mythos throughout the issue, including his longtime on-again/off-again love interest Leiko Wu.

However, Yang is not afraid to shake things up with the introduction of the Five Weapons Society. In the previous canon, the crime lord Fu Manchu was Shang’s father. This had to change due to the fact that the Fu Manchu rights could no longer be used by Marvel, as well as the racist undertones of the character. By changing a key part of Shang’s mythos, Yeun recontextualizes the Master of Kung-Fu’s legacy for the better.

Shang-Chi #1

He is also helped in this endeavor by Ruan and Tan. Tan illustrates a flashback sequence depicting the Five Weapons Society, while Ruan handles the present-day sequences. The different art styles provide a great contrast between past and present: Tan’s has sharper edges and a grittier aesthetic while Ruan’s feels more animated and fluid.

Ruan also has the chance to design a plethora of new characters, each feeling as unique as the weapon they’re named after. Sister Hammer is massive and muscular, while Shang is lean and speedy. Each character is also sporting a certain color, from Shang’s red T-shirt to Leiko’s purple-and-black outfit. Cheung’s colors also add to the distinctive look each character has and outlines their movements with literal flashes of color.

It wouldn’t be a Shang-Chi book without kung-fu, and this issue delivers on all counts. There are several fights throughout, and the characters involved have a unique form of combat. Shang is one such combatant, as his moves become a blur under Ruan’s pencils. He catches weapons thrown at him-and throws them right back. His kicks take out multiple enemies. Any reader will see why he’s considered to be the greatest fighter in the Marvel Universe.

Shang-Chi #1 is a perfect introduction to the Master of Kung-Fu and features a much-needed update to his background.  Shang’s popularity is set to grow next year with Simu Liu portraying him in Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings; readers old and new will definitely want to pick up this series beforehand to get a crash course on the character.

Shang-Chi #1 will be available on September 30, 2020, wherever comics are sold.


Shang-Chi #1
5

TL;DR

Shang-Chi #1 is a perfect introduction to the Master of Kung-Fu and features a much-needed update to his background.  Shang’s popularity is set to grow next year with Simu Liu portraying him in Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings; readers old and new will definitely want to pick up this series beforehand to get a crash course on the character.