REVIEW: ‘Shang-Chi,’ Issue #5

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Shang-Chi #5

Shang-Chi #5 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. After a heartfelt conversation with his uncle’s spirit in the last issue, Shang-Chi battles Sister Hammer and her army of jiangshi in London. However, the Master of Kung-Fu will have to resort to other methods to get through to his sister.

This issue brings the theme of family to a head, as Shang confronts his sister and the dark past that he sought to leave behind. Yang manages to strike the perfect balance of action and emotion in his script, as Shang fights the jiangshi alongside Brother Sabre and Sister Dagger. He’s also fighting to save Sister Hammer’s soul, as the effects of Zheng Zhu’s brainwashing have taken hold. I got powerful Avatar: The Last Airbender vibes from their sequences-which is rather fitting since Yang did pen several comics set in the universe of The Last Airbender.

The family bonds are also cemented as the major theme within the series-again rather fitting since Shang is fighting to repair the bonds with his family, and the story arc is literally titled “Brothers and Sisters.” He also manages to acknowledge that even though Zheng Zhu was an awful father, he shouldn’t throw away the bonds he has with his siblings. This issue manages to toe the right emotional line, being heartwarming without tipping into schmaltzy territory.

Also keeping up with the balance are Ruan and Tan on art. Ruan once again draws some of the most dynamic, fluid action sequences I’ve ever seen in a comic; readers will be able to feel the impact of every punch thrown and every weapon connecting with a target. Tan’s artwork’s transition is also handled deftly, as the flashback sequence contains the heft of the emotional weight. Tan draws Zheng Zhu as a massive, ever present figure that dwarfs Shang and Sister Hammer-which is both visually and thematically fitting for the shadow he’s cast over their lives.

Cheng’s colors are what really make the artwork pop, however. His colors are brighter during Ruan’s sequences, making the fight scenes even more outstanding and hazier during the Tan sequence to underline the fact that this is a memory. Red is the most prominent color, as it is worn quite frequently by Shang (in his costume and civilian wear) and representing the House of the Deadly Hand. Zheng Zhu also has glowing red energy surrounding his hands, but it is tinted black to represent his soul’s malevolence.

Shang-Chi #5 perfectly balances action and emotion for a satisfying-and game-changing-end to Shang-Chi’s latest adventure. With the promise of more Shang-Chi stories on the horizon, as well as the premiere of Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings later this year, the Master of Kung Fu’s future has never looked brighter.

Shang-Chi #5 is available now wherever comics are sold.

 

Shang-Chi #5
5

TL;DR

Shang-Chi #5 perfectly balances action and emotion for a satisfying-and game-changing-end to Shang-Chi’s latest adventure. With the promise of more Shang-Chi stories on the horizon, as well as the premiere of Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings later this year, the Master of Kung Fu’s future has never looked brighter.