The Master of Kung-Fu fights his equally skilled siblings, and even if he wins, he loses. Your Major Spoilers review of Shang-Chi #5 from Marvel Comics awaits!
Writer: Gene Luen Yang
Artist: Dike Ruan/Philip Tan
Colorist: Sebastian Cheng
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Editor: Darren Shan
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: January 27, 2021
Previously in Shang-Chi: Sister Hammer launches her final attack on the Western world with her army of vampires! Will Shang-Chi and his family be able to stop her? And will Shang-Chi finally accept the destiny laid out by his father?
AN ARMY OF UNDEAD
As an army of undead rolls through the streets of London, Shang and his half-siblings Esme and Taleshi try to fight them off, in concert with MI:6, but their other sister has outmaneuvered them again. She has implanted each of the Jiangshi with a microchip that provides them with the necessary unavenged grievance that drives their undeath. Unlike previous issues, though, Shang doesn’t fight the rage, instead tracing it to its source, finding his sister’s own relationship with their father to be the source of their anger. He tells her of his own childhood, reminder her that Zheng Zu is dead, and that neither of them have to be driven by his parental failings anymore, freeing her grievance and stopping the army of undead. Unfortunately, she responds with more anger, attacking him in front of Lotus Wu, who tries to shoot her down, only to have Shang-Chi himself save her life.
THE END OF THE BEGINNING
This issue ends with four of the five secret houses united under Shang-Chi’s command, with Brother Sabre and Sister Dagger at his side and the shadow of his father moving closer, even from beyond the grave. As with every issue of this book, we get two different art teams, one for flashbacks and one for the present, and my feelings on each team are mixed. Ruan’s detail and facial expressions are very well done, but I find myself less enamored with his action sequences, while Philip Tan’s combat and storytelling are good, but I find his faces a bit disturbing. The story feels fresh and interesting, taking bits of actual Chinese mythology and lore and wrapping them into the existing “games of deceit and death” that have been the basis of Shang’s comic since 1973, making for a new setting rife with potential.
BOTTOM LINE: A NEW ERA OF MASTER OF KUNG-FU
At the end of this issue, we are promised a new Shang-Chi series (ongoing?), and I’m looking forward to reading it, especially if Yang is the writer. Shang-Chi #5 serves as a fitting close to this chapter and an open-ended setup for the next level of Master of Kung-Fu adventures, preparing for his film debut, with two art teams whose strengths tend to balance one another, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. If you’ve never read Shang-Chi, you should easily be able to grasp this book, but if you’re an old fan like me, it will work for you as well.
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Yang's Shang-Chi is an interesting new take, and this issue's ending proves to be an impressive setup for a new take on the Master of Kung-Fu.