Shang-Chi must face the most dangerous foes of his entire life: His own siblings! Your Major Spoilers review of Shang-Chi #3 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: November 25, 2020
Previously in Shang-Chi: Shang-Chi gets to know the family he never knew he had… but which of his siblings can he trust, and which are trying to kill him?
Plus, witness the horrifying origin of Shang-Chi’s father, who is totally NOT Fu Manchu, you guys!
A STRANGE CELESTIAL WOUND
After last issue’s injury that bled strange star-filled black blood, Shang-Chi and his new half-siblings Sister Dagger (born and raised in France) and Brother Sabre (born and raised in japan) start out with a history lesson, explaining how the Five Deadly Houses began. Shang, as the premier combatant of the House of the Deadly Hand, is expected to take command of all the houses, but isn’t sure how he feels about it. Their other sister, Sister Hammer, has her own ideas, and attacks the Louvre in France. Shang’s wound has been scabbing over with the grey skin of a jiangshi, an undead creature, and every time Sister Hammer uses her power to command those undead, he feels the urge to respond. Through the combined powers of Sabre, Dagger and Hand, Shang and his sibs almost overcome Sister Hammer’s attack until she detonates one of her undead soldiers, injuring the Master of Kung-Fu even more. As the issue ends, Shang-Chi has been wounded even worse, and it seems he’s going to die and become a jiangshi himself.
THE SECRET ORIGINS OF
FU MANCHU ZHENG ZU
I like Yang’s take on Shang-Chi, even as he seems more youthful and less wise than recent interpretations of the character (something that I attribute to his coming movie adaptation.) This issue shows his working his spy connections, researching history, and trying to understand Brother Sabre and Sister Dagger so that he can free them from their cultish educations, as well as fighting zombies and his sister. I’m not entirely a fan of Philip Tan, but his art in the flashbacks is quite strong, with good layouts and storytelling, even if I don’t like the scratchiness of his finishes. Ruan’s present-day work is much more to my liking, and I really enjoy the facial expressions of Sister Dagger as she repeatedly loses her temper with her half-brothers. Shang’s new battle togs make their first official appearance in these pages after showing up on the cover of the last two issues, and I have to say, they look pretty great. Special kudos is due to the half-page spread of Shang blocking an explosion with his own body, a truly impressive and cinematic shot.
BOTTOM LINE: A NICELY DONE CHAPTER
In short, Shang-Chi #3 continues exploring our hero’s unknown backstory effectively, using actual Chinese history and some well-researched mysticism to flesh out a family for the Master of Kung-Fu, with art that ranges from very strong to pretty okay, and an ending that really ratchets up the tension, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall. If nothing else, I’m happy with Marvel finally fleshing out Zheng Zhu, Shang’s father, rather than just obliquely referencing how they no longer have the rights to use Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu. That development is about 20 years overdue.
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Shang's troubles are mounting, but the interactions with his siblings are quite interesting, and the art, while not to my taste, is attractive.