REVIEW: ‘Shang-Chi,’ Issue #2

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Shang-Chi #2

Shang-Chi #2 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.  Following the events of the first issue, Shang-Chi is reunited with his younger sibling Sister Hammer. However, the family reunion takes a dark turn when Shang is targeted for death due to his inheritance of leadership for the Five Weapons Society.

The issue once again delves into Shang-Chi’s past and how he became Zheng Zhu’s favorite son. Yuen is best known for his work on Avatar: The Last Airbender‘s comic continuation for Dark Horse Comics which explored a similar dynamic between Prince Zuko and his family. Much like Zuko, Shang-Chi’s relationship with his father is less than ideal, and he’s spent his life trying to escape his father’s shadow. Also, similar to how Fire Lord Ozai helped shape Azula into the ruthless warrior she was in The Last Airbender, Zheng Zhu made the other members of the Five Weapons Society into deadly fighters who are willing to kill their own brother to gain power.

Before we see Shang fighting for his life, we get to see his relationship with Sister Hammer via flashback. Tan’s roughly hewn art style helps add a sense of dread to the scene, especially when a young Shang and Hammer find a room full of undead corpses and are confronted by their father. Ruan picks this up with their reunion, showing Shang and Hammer hugging and sharing their favorite food including crystal cakes. It’s a rather heartfelt scene that makes Hammer’s betrayal hit that much harder.

Although the issue is light on action, Ruan gets the chance to showcase Shang’s skills in action. He is shown fighting a roomful of zombies and manages to shatter a massive mace with a single blow. Coupled with Cheung’s bright colors, this makes for immensely kinetic action sequences. We also get to see Brother Staff and Sister Dagger deploy their different fighting skills; it helps to separate them from Shang and Hammer who have their own unique styles. Action can often tell you a lot about character, and Shang’s siblings using weapons puts their lethal nature on display.

Ruan also gets to introduce a trippy new element to the series, as Shang suffers a near-death experience. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this. It’s not that Shang hasn’t faced supernatural events before; he lives in the Marvel Universe where vampires and Sorcerers Supreme dwell. It just feels like it comes out of nowhere, and Shang already has enough on his plate with his family trying to kill him. It looks like the creators are using the mystic as an element to address Shang’s relationship with his father. Hopefully, since there are three issues left, this plot point will have a bigger influence on the main story.

Shang-Chi #2 features a surprisingly emotional reunion between Shang-Chi and his family while upping the stakes for the Master of Kung Fu. With the new elements introduced, I’m eager to see how Shang deals with the other members of the Five Weapons Society and how he escapes a near-death experience.

Shang-Chi #2 is available wherever comics are sold.

Shang-Chi #2
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TL;DR

Shang-Chi #2 features a surprisingly emotional reunion between Shang-Chi and his family while upping the stakes for the Master of Kung Fu. With the new elements introduced, I’m eager to see how Shang deals with the other members of the Five Weapons Society and how he escapes a near-death experience.