Comic Review: SHANG-CHI VS. THE MARVEL UNIVERSE?
Shang-Chi and his family are back in comic book form! And this time, they collide with the Marvel Universe’s biggest heroes in Shang-Chi vs. The Marvel Universe! After the events of his previous series, Shang-Chi has finally taken his place as the leader of the Five Weapons Society. But using an evil secret organization as a force for good won’t be easy. And it’s about to get a lot harder when Shang-Chi’s fellow superheroes from Spider-Man, the X-Men to the Avengers start to question his motives! Gene Luen Yang and Dike Ruan return with colorist Triona Farrell and cover artists Leinil Francis Yu and Sunny Gho to bring you the next chapter of this Marvel legend!
Shang-Chi’s Debut and the Amazing Creative Team
Shang-Chi debuted in June 2021 with an action-packed first issue. Upon opening the splash page, you notice right away that the art pops. The art is striking, and as I progressed through the story, I was drawn into the writing and how captivating it is. It’s just cool to read about another Marvel character that’s from another culture. The first black comic book superhero was Black Panther who appeared in Marvel comics in 1966. Shang-Chi appeared in Marvel comics in the early 1970s as the first Asian superhero.
No Shang-Chi Experience Necessary
I don’t have any prior experience or knowledge with Shang-Chi in comic books, so I’m a newbie there. And I’ve only seen Shang-Chi and the Legends of the Ten Rings once. Until the movie was announced, I’d never even heard of Shang-Chi. None of that will matter if you choose to read this series. Yang’s explanation of his back story was clear and concise enough for me to feel caught up. It’s on a need-to-know basis, and I felt like I knew enough for now to continue the story. The one thing that kept me away from some of the A-list superheroes is the fear of needing a history lesson that goes back 80 years!
The Differences in Shang-Chi vs The Marvel Universe
So now you’ve seen Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and you want more, or you plan on seeing it, and you want some backstory. I get it. But know this, Shang-Chi vs. The Marvel Universe doesn’t follow the Legend of the Ten Rings like the movie. In the comic book, Shang-Chi has taken over his father’s criminal organization and wants to redefine its purpose. No more criminal activity for the Five Weapons Society!
Other than Shang, there are no characters that crossover from this series to the movie. There are some more differences between the film and the comic book. For example, in the comic book, Shang-Chi isn’t a parking valet, and he doesn’t have a friend named Katy.
The Shang-Chi in the comic book is a little more reserved. He would not be caught singing karaoke as seen in the film, that’s for sure. Shang has an eager younger sister, Esme, who is bursting at the seams to kick some criminal butt but is held back by Shang because he doesn’t want to fall into the same habits as his fathers. This is evident in Shang’s first-person inner dialogue, which I appreciated. From this POV, you get to experience precisely how he struggles with rebranding the Five Weapons Society. Shang feels responsible for his father’s legacy while at the same time bringing his family together again.
Shang-Chi’s Family Matters
As of now (September 2021), there have been four issues released. In each case, Shang runs into a familiar face. First, it’s Spider-Man, Captain America, Wolverine, and then the Fantastic Four. Each altercation consists of a misunderstanding or one hero committed to an act another cannot let happen. It’s basically a battle of who has more testosterone.
I love how Yang weaves the number four in the story as an unlucky number in the Chinese culture, so Esme refers to the Fantastic Four as the Fantastic Death and the Human Torch as Death by Fire Man.
Another one of Shang-Chi’s siblings is Takeshi. Takeshi was raised in Japan’s House of the Deadly Sabre, eventually becoming its Champion, “Brother Sabre.” After his anointment, Brother Sabre was ordered by his father to kill his half-sister, Zheng Zhilan, for expressing her wish to reform the Five Weapons Society. Instead, Sabre spared Zhilan and kept a piece of her broken flue as a memento of his failure. Unbeknownst to the two, Zu ordered Zhilan’s death due to her status as a mutant.
Zhilan was raised in the House of the Deadly Staff outside of London, England. When Zhilan sought to reform the Five Weapons Society, Zheng Zu ordered Brother Sabre to assassinate her for her insolence. Instead, Brother Sabre spared Zhilan and faked her death. Unbeknownst to the two half-siblings, the real reason why their father ordered Zhilan’s death was due to her status as a mutant, a species that Zu believed had the potential to become a dangerous colonial threat.
Writer Gene Yang Talks About Shang-Chi
“I’m very, very thankful for all the support that we got for the Shang-Chi miniseries. I mean, the first two issues sold out,” Yang said. “I’m thrilled that we get to continue the story of Shang-Chi and his siblings in the Five Weapons Society. We’re going to show how Shang-Chi’s brand-new role affects the rest of the Marvel Universe. We’ll have him interact with old friends and new foes… and even old friends who become new foes. Dike Ruan and I are already hard at work. The stuff I’ve seen from Dike so far has been his best yet.”
The first four issues of Shang-Chi are out now, and I’m undoubtedly enjoying this series for the eastern cultural aspects and kick-butt hand-to-hand fighting. In fact, if it’s kicking butt that you crave, check out Deadly Hands of Kung Fu where Shang-Chi meets Iron Fist! I think it’s super cool to see Shang meetup with various Avengers and hold his own against the likes of Captain America and Wolverine. No small feat indeed!. When Yang and Ruan team up and Leinil Yu is involved with the covers, that’s a Marvel team that can’t be beaten!
More on Shang-Chi and the Legends of the Ten Rings
About SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS: Behind-The-Scenes and Review
Episode 341 of Skywalking Through Neverland: “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” with Bryan Lee
Read more comics at Marvel.com.