Remake & Reboot: Marvel’s SHANG-CHI

It seems every hero has some form of martial arts training, whether it be Batman, Captain America, or even less combative heroes like Kitty Pryde are considered ninja in some form or another. But they all pale in comparison to Marvel’s Shang-Chi, Master of Kung-Fu. His name translates from the Chinese to mean “Rising of the Spirit,” and he’s risen by leaps and bounds from being a supporting member of a licensed comic Marvel was doing in the 70s to become an ally of Spider-Man, the X-Men and even joining the Avengers in recent months. But between all that, he’s had a hard go of it when it comes to his own solo adventures — but guys like him aren’t known to give up easily.

In this week’s Remake & Reboot, we put down the Bruce Lee imitations and pursue a unified pitch and creative team that could make a Shang-Chi series work in modern Marvel continuity. Leave your kung-fu clich├ęs at the door.

The Concept:

How do you convey the fluid and kinetic movements of martial arts with static art of comics? Much like racing, martial arts have always been a hard skill to portray in comics. Factor in the tendencies for a relatively one-dimensional “kung-fu” character and Shang-Chi’s transience in the happenings of the Marvel Universe, and therein lies why the character has had trouble keeping a solo series going. What the series needs is a new angle on Shang-chi’s adventures, and creators with the popularity — and the chops — to take it on, much like Bendis & Maleev’s Moon Knight.

Although Chi’s backstory and ties to his father Fu Manchu are intriguing elements, that needs to be placed on the backburner as an underlying plot while focusing on how Shang-Chi could (and should) factor into the Marvel Universe at large. Shang-Chi is one of the most proficient hand-to-hand combatants in the Marvel U, and it’d be interesting to see him track down others of his skill level for a challenge — or what if he’s framed for a crime and believed to be turning evil, forcing Marvel’s heroes like Daredevil, Wolverine, Captain America and others to track him down. What if the so-called “Deadliest Hands Of Kung-Fu” were forced to go against Marvel’s finest?

The Creators:

Writer – Nick Spencer: After burning up the independents and landing an exclusive at Marvel quite early in his career, writer Nick Spencer is still looking for a book that cements himself as a super-hero writer in the Big Two. His work on Ultimate X-Men aside, giving Spencer a more untouched canvas like a Shang-Chi title could be just the thing to show what he can do. He has a knack for doing well thought out character pieces without skimping on the action, and that’s exactly what Shang-Chi needs to make an ongoing series work.

Artist – Michael Broussard: Broussard has quickly morphed into being one of Top Cow’s top talents, and much in the same way Francis Manapul and Kenneth Rocafort moved on to the Big Two I think it’s time for this artist to do the same. Although some might put him onto a top-tier book like Avengers or Batman at the drop of a hat, I’d love to see him develop a more under-utilized setting in the worlds seen by Shang Chi.

Artist – Jeff Johnson: Although modern comics audiences may not remember him, if you were a fan of Wonder Man or Crossgen you probably can’t forget him. Artist Jeff Johnson was an overlooked powerhouse comic artist when he worked in the industry, bringing well-thought-out storytelling and expert illustrative lines to really convey a story. In recent years he’s been pulled into the world of animation, but I’d wager that the right project might bring him back for a limited engagement like this. His work on Crossgen’s Way of the Rat showed just how well he is at drawing martial arts scene, and bringing him in for Shang-Chi could see him show off those skills once more.

 

 

Comments

  1. A secondary character rarely gets past 10 issues nowadays.

  2. I’m all for a Shang-Chi reboot. I think the artist choices are great, but I can’t imagine a writer that would be a worse fit than Spencer.

  3. I’d say just refer to Secret Avengers issue 18.

  4. I’m still waiting for Essential Shang Chi : Master oh Kung-Fu vol. 1

    • you may have to keep waiting. the fu manchu stuff is tied to an old deal marvel had with the Sax Rohmer estate, just like the Conan-Robert E Howard agreement, or why there’s no ROM Spaceknight essential (kenner)

      there’s just too much fu manchu in the MOKF series.

      Maybe they could do a Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu essential ?

    • Which really makes me glad I hunted down the original issues of both MOKF and ROM.

      It would be fun thought to see the art of Paul Gulacy, Mike Zeck and Gene Day in glorious black and white to admire the linework.

  5. I’d buy the first year of this, while it lasts.

    I was a huge fan of the Gulacy run way back in the day. Some amazing art from that era, and truly beautiful storytelling.

    A great character when done right.