They’re opposite sides of the same coin, really: Yin to Yang, darkness to light, aggression to serenity.  Sandra Wu-San; born to poverty, raised by assassins, eventually finding her way by walking the earth, fighting and killing for the sheer thrill of it all.  Shang-Chi, son of Fu Manchu; Born in splendor, a pawn in his father’s schemes of domination, until he turned away to find his own path of balance.  Each is acclaimed as the greatest hand-to-hand combatant of their world (he fought the Hulk alone, she TRAINED the Batman) but with wildly different views of the world and the value of human life.  However, they share a mastery of martial arts and a disdain for that which normal men call “shirts.”

Today’s MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) comes from the oldest of comic traditions:
Whose kung-fu is superior: Lady Shiva or Shang-Chi, Master Of Kung-Fu?


About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. justanothergeek on

    Shang-Chi, because he seems to be at peace with himself and the world even amidst conflict, while Lady Shiva is at war with everything.

  2. Did not know Shang-Chi fought the Hulk alone…but I am going to assume he lost. He gets major credit for the effort. Shang-Chi study and mastered in martial arts against/by the greatest teachers Fu Manchu could get his “craws” on. Lady Shiva provide” some” of Batman’s training, but could she (or would she even try) to fight a comparable “Hulk” in the DC.

    Shang-Chi, “Master” of Kung-Fu is far superior…imho.

      • Everyone from Cyke to Jubilee has survived punches from Juggernaut… I don’t think taking a punch qualifies as a durability feat in a genre that largely demands its characters stay alive. For example, the Superman Homepage kept count of all the times the characters of Smallville were knocked out (Lois holds the record 52 times)… I wouldn’t use this to infer that Lois has a mutant durability power that prevents her from suffering long-term brain damage despite repeated blows to the head. It’s just a trope, not a testament to durability.

        At the end of the day, you look at the character’s actual established characteristics to determine durability and his is that of an athletic human with some specialized training… nothing that would change the tensile strength of his flesh, the durability of his bones, the characteristics of his organs on a magnitude sufficient to survive a punch from Hulk. Now if we want to argue it was [borderline magic] technique, fine, but it doesn’t equal durability or “taking” a punch per se, his underlying durability is still that of human flesh for the Lady to rend as she is willing (and Shang-Chi is not) and able.

        • Everyone from Cyke to Jubilee has survived punches from Juggernaut… I don’t think taking a punch qualifies as a durability feat in a genre that largely demands its characters stay alive.

          Yeah, but the Juggernaut’s an idiot. :)

          • Yeah, which means he isn’t holding back, unlike Hulk who- according to amadeus cho- is a genius who calculate every one of his rampages to ensure zero casualties. So with that retcon we can’t be sure Shang-Chi survived on his merit and not Hulk’s calculations. ;)

  3. Oh, a fighty QotD. A couple of ways to approach this or factors to consider:

    Villain v. Hero – Heroes win.
    Lethal v. Less-Lethal – Lethal wins.
    Female v. Male – Males win. [Provided the requisite physicality and the real-world sort of constraints that give rise to weight classes… I’m tempted to say it’s an almost a non-factor in comic book universes where 8 year olds can reliably down against multiple grown adults, but even there physicality matters and if ALL else is equal, then the one able to bring more physicality to the table wins.]
    No magic v. magic – Magic wins. [Provided the magic is relevant to combat.]
    Feats v. Feats – Better feats win. [Provided the feats have some consistency and veracity to them.]

    Shang-Chi takes the hero category, but these kinds of proposed battles tends to take such character and plot considerations off the table (additionally, last I checked Shiva was good or a borderline anti-hero?). The analysis is similar for lethality, only just in favor of Shiva. The willingness to kill makes a much wider range of easier and more effective techniques available, but again for such proposed battles any reluctance to kill would typically be removed or diminished in Shang-Chi. In terms of build, I believe Shang-Chi takes it, but again only just. He’s not traditionally drawn as particularly large so I don’t imagine he’d have a huge physical advantage if any. If we want to get really nitpicky, I suppose we could argue that Shiva has absurd breasts, long hair, often wears flowing coats, and occasionally subjects her feet to the absurdity that are heels, all lowering her efficacy… but given the comic universe I assume these vulnerabilities are mitigated since they’re they female norm.

    In terms of magic, I’m pretty sure that both characters are largely played as straight martial artists (as it is a point of pride for both), but between the two, Shang-Chi has had more occasion to demonstrate supernatural abilities (such as sensing a presence). The rarity of these events, however, makes me limit their influence. As far as I know, Shiva’s never demonstrated supernatural abilities. Overall, Shang-Chi might get the slightest edge, but I consider it a wash.

    Finally, in terms of feats, I believe Shang-Chi has a few higher feats that seem to be exceptions to his general portrayal whereas Lady Shiva’s feats, overall, tend to be higher than Shang-Chi but she doesn’t have those extraordinary exceptional [inconsistent?] feats.

    These aren’t the only factors and there’s no reason they ought to be weighed evenly but after considering them all I’ll go with my gut and pick Lady Shiva. She is more consistently portrayed as the ultimate martial artist whereas Shang-Chi tends to be more consistently portrayed as just another street level hero hanging with the big guns. The willingness to kill actually gives her access to the full breadth of martial arts and her feminine trappings apparently aren’t a comic-book limitation (and, even if they are, apparently she’s so good she’s still top martial artist despite them). Shang-Chi has more extraordinary feats and occasional magic, but they aren’t consistent.

  4. I’ve gotta go with Lady Shiva on this one, partially because I know the character better, partially because I like the character better, and partially because she spawned Cassandra Cain, who could destroy Shang-Chi.

  5. Lady Shiva, while I’ll admit it does have a lot to do with me been a fan of BoP before it was cancelled in the new 52, it also has to do wih the fact martial arts have a better “standing” in the DC universe.

    While anyone and everyone from a shield agent to a girl on the street that took self-defence classes can fight and be considered a “martial artist” in the Marvel U in the DCnU martial artists have a class of their own and many are feared more then superpowered villains/heroes.

    Lady Shiva, Richard Dragon, Connor Hawke, Wildcat, Cassandra Cain, Savant, Creote, Black Canary, White Canary, Karate Kid, Batman, Richard Grayson, Tim Drake, Batgirl and so on.

    There are few “martial artists” in the Marvel U that can be considered as such, one of them is Shang-Chi and the Immortal weapons, and they are more mystical powered individuals then martial artists…

    P.S. Lady Shiva can read a humans body movement and predict their next move and has no problems killing.

    • P.S. Lady Shiva can read a humans body movement and predict their next move and has no problems killing.

      Shang-Chi can and has done the same, and does it with enough restraint that he can avoid killing. :D

        • interesting and valid point about the standing given to martial artists in the respective universes, case in point being Hawkeye’s “ronin” period, explained by one bendis-penned flashback. if the “trained by Captain America” list includes freaking Jarvis, how exclusive is that club? side question: why does DC have more non-powered, street fightin’ types than the supposed “grittier” MU?

          • side question: why does DC have more non-powered, street fightin’ types than the supposed “grittier” MU?

            The existence of Batman, partially, and the ages of the respective universes. In the Golden Age, where many DC mainstays originated, a guy in a costume was a legitimate threat. By the Silver Age, nearly every hero has SOME sort of power, and I think that Marvel’s use of the mutant theory as an origin has assisted in hero power-creep as well.

  6. This fight would most likely be really close, but I think Lady Shiva would beat Shang-Shi (mostly because she’s plainly more willing to maim and kill). This fight would be awesome to see, especially if the companies got some of the other big-name martial artists characters involved (like Danny Rand and the Karate Kid[s])

  7. sweep the leg, shang!! put her in a body bag!! this would make one hell of a fight, but i’ve got to give it to shang-chi. his kung fu is pretty good, and taking the hulk punch means shiva will have to work to impress him, literally. ever not know exactly how bad a joke is when you start writing it? the next fight should be shang versus daredevil, winner fights wolverine (claws or no? decisions….). the next stage is moon knight, who has a one-in-twenty chance of retconning in the middle of the fight, with the victor taking on elektra. the bruised heap that walks away from that one has to face taskmaster in a “roller skates in a gravel pit” match, winner fights cap atop the statue of liberty (shades of remo williams, minus the jarringly younger wilford brimley). whoever escapes the Escalation on Ellis Island faces Iron Fist for the title of marvel’s greatest fighter. somebody else with more knowledge will have to write the DC bracket of the tournement, but i would be disappointed if it wasn’t batman vs. midnighter for the heavyweight belt. all considered, danny rand (all out of bubble gum and with more names than a cabal of radical feminists) (that’s not funny) unites the belts and has a snack.

  8. Shang Chi should have been a movie, directed by Robert Rodriguez! Hands down the “Master of Kung Fu”.
    Besides EVVVVVVVVVVVVVVERYBODY trained the Batman! Next issue “I Trained Him TOO”!

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