REVIEW: ‘Shang-Chi,’ Issue 4

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Shang-Chi #4

Shang-Chi #4 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 Shang-Chi #3, Shang-Chi travels to the grave of his uncle Zheng Yi with Brother Sabre and Sister Dagger in order to find a cure for the wound that is slowly turning him into a jiangshi. Meanwhile, Sister Hammer continues to build her army of jiangshi.

This series continues to incorporate Chinese customs and history, and this issue is no different as it showcases Shang performing the tomb-sweeping ritual at his uncle’s grave. The “tomb sweeping day”-which is officially known as the Qingming festival in China-involves cleaning an ancestor’s tomb and leaving offerings, including food. This ritual is a simple way of showing that Shang is still connected to his heritage, even though he’s spent most of his life in America.

The major part of the tomb-sweeping, however, is to connect with one’s family-a lesson that the ghost of Zheng Yi is more than happy to import to his nephew. Shang admits that he has tried to distance himself from his family due to the less than the ideal relationship he had with his father. Yet the issue shows him actually connecting with his siblings, whether it’s Brother Sabre combatting the tomb’s guardian on his behalf or something as simple as offering Sister Dagger a Clif bar. Yang’s script is full of emotionally resonant moments like these, which helps keep the reader invested beyond the fight scenes.

That doesn’t mean the fights aren’t great. Ruan illustrates the bulk of the issue, and as always his artwork is a sight to behold. His design for the tomb guardian is equal parts impressive and intimidating; it has a long, serpentine body and a dragon’s head, and jutting out of said head are four human arms. Shang and his family have to combine their unique fighting skills in order to take the beast down, and the resulting scene feels like it was constructed in a role-playing game. (That’s a good thing by the way.) Another sequence features the ghost of Zheng Yi accepting the gifts his nephew lays out. At first, he appears as nothing more than a skeleton-yet when he starts to consume the food, his flesh starts to grow back. It’s an amazing, and disturbing, visual.

Tan illustrates the flashback portions of the issue, which are given an ominous glow due to Cheung coloring the sky a malevolent blood red. Tan also puts his own spin on a cosmic Marvel villain and reminds us why the said villain is feared by many. The flashback sequence is also important because it contains a secret about Shang’s father that paints him in an entirely new light. Up to this point, Shang had thought his father was a heartless monster; learning the truth leaves him and by extension the audience, at a crossroads.

Shang-Chi #4 beautifully highlights the native traditions of its title hero and strengthens his bond with his family. With only one issue left, Shang and his family are in for the fight of their lives.

Shang-Chi #4 is available wherever comics are sold and through Comixology using our affiliate link.

Shang-Chi #4
5

TL;DR

Shang-Chi #4 beautifully highlights the native traditions of its title hero and strengthens his bond with his family. With only one issue left, Shang and his family are in for the fight of their lives.