REVIEW: ‘Shang-Chi,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Shang Chi #1 - But Why Tho?

Shang-Chi #1 is written by Gene Luen Yang, illustrated by Dike Ruan, colored by Triona Farrell, and lettered by VC’s Travis Lanham. It is published by Marvel Comics. “Shang-Chi VS The Marvel Universe” picks up where the Shang-Chi miniseries left off, with Shang inheriting the mantle of Supreme Commander of the Five Weapons Society. However, he is struggling to keep the Society-particularly his sister Esme/Deadly Dagger-in line as he dismantles his father’s criminal organization. Things come to a head when Shang tracks down a new form of drug-which leads to him crossing paths with Spider-Man!

Both Yang and Ruan previously worked on the Shang-Chi miniseries, and they have developed a creative rapport that extends to this new series. Yang, in particular, should be commended for his writing skills. He manages to craft a first issue that seamlessly picks up from where the previous story left off, yet still makes it accessible for new readers. His take on Shang-Chi is also endearing: Shang would rather try to go on a date than have to deal with Five Weapons Society business and he has to restrain his stab-happy sister. His leadership of the Five Weapons Society also seems to be a weight hanging on his neck, given his rather contentious relationship with his father Zheng Zhu. The appearance of Spider-Man is always a plus, and I appreciate that Yang makes a reference to when Shang taught Spidey martial arts during the Spider-Island storyline. Spidey also lends a sense of levity to the proceedings and asks Shang toward the end: “Are you still one of us?” It’s telling that Shang doesn’t have an answer.

Art-wise, Ruan draws an immensely dynamic issue-especially in terms of action sequences. Shang is fleet on his feet, often deflecting lethal blows or using the environment to his advantage. Esme almost always goes for the lethal approach, which often throws enemies off because they’re usually twice her size. And Ruan also manages to capture Spidey’s arachnid acrobatics, from how he descends in the air to how he shoots his webbing. Spidey and Shang even manage to combine their respective talents together in a truly impressive fight sequence: Shang uses his martial arts sequence to defeat various foes and flings them into Spidey’s web.

In keeping with tackling different aspects of Chinese history and myth, there is a new enemy that draws power from the yeren: an apelike creature that bears similarities to the Yeti of Western myth. Another element that pops up in the issue-and that serves as a carryover from the previous miniseries-is Shang switching from English to Ancient Mandarin. Lanham depicts Shang’s Mandarin as lowercase italic letters, with his English in capital letters. It’s a neat touch that helps differentiate the way he speaks to others; particularly Spidey (who he speaks to in English) and Esme (who he speaks to in Mandarin).

Shang-Chi #1 launches a new era for the Master of Kung Fu but threatens to pit him against his fellow Marvel heroes in the process. The next issue will see Shang cross paths with Captain America, which is bound to complicate an already complicated situation; hopefully Shang can find the balance between his heroic life and leading the Five Weapons Society.

Shang-Chi #1 is available wherever comics are sold.

 

Shang-Chi #1
5

TL;DR

Shang-Chi #1 launches a new era for the Master of Kung Fu but threatens to pit him against his fellow Marvel heroes in the process. The next issue will see Shang cross paths with Captain America, which is bound to complicate an already complicated situation; hopefully Shang can find the balance between his heroic life and leading the Five Weapons Society.