Kevin Feige has already confirmed the Master of Kung Fu will appear in the next phase of Marvel movies, but I think most don’t know how ripe this character is for the big screen. A fighter greater than Bruce Lee, but embroiled in worldwide conflicts of espionage, Shang-Chi is quite possibly Marvel Studios version of James Bond. He may not have gadgets, but he makes up for that with far better villains, sex appeal, and fighting ability. Here are reasons why Master of Kung Fu would be Marvel Studios’ 007 on steroids.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
MASTER OF KUNG FU easily ranks as one of the most iconic series in Marvel history. Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy’s blend of kung fu action and globetrotting espionage reached beyond the already high standard for the title and pushed it to new horizons of action and adventure! Experience the thriller “Crystal Connection;” the debuts of the whip-cracking Pavane, the savage Razor-Fist and the lovely Leiko Wu; the showdown on Mordillo’s Island; the cinematic Hong Kong fight against the Cat; the tense intrigue of “Oriental Expediters;” the mystery of MI-6’s mole; and the sweeping scale of “The Return of Fu Manchu!” Each adventure will have you on the edge of your seat, so don’t hold back! Enter the world of Shang-Chi!
Can I jump in easily?
Relatively easily although this collects Master of Kung Fu #29-53 and the first Annual dropping you in a little late into the game. That said, comics from 1975 tended to be quite easy to jump into and enjoy.
Reason 1: Sexy as hell
With any good espionage story, you need lots of sex. Sexy women, sexy men, and a sultry lifestyle zipping around the globe. Truth is Shang-Chi doesn’t indulge, but the audience certainly does especially in this series. For those who like men, you get plenty of Shang-Chi with his shirt off fighting off baddies as his muscles ripple. For those who like women, there are a ton of woman half dressed and they work on both the good and bad sides. The art by Paul Gulacy with Sal Buscema, Keith Pollard, and Jim Craig certainly knows what it’s doing when it comes to luring your eye. More than once a word balloon covers a woman’s butt with her legs coming out as if it’s covering her nude body. There are women who wear skin-tight plastic mesh or for the evil types leather bikinis revealing nearly everything.
Reason 2: Crazy over the top villains
The villains in this collection are right up there with Bond’s best. Razor-Fist, a man with giant blades for hands, is one of the first villains Shang-Chi has to face in this collection. Wearing a blue leather mask with blue suspenders keeping the neck piece and bottom together he’s thick and foreboding. When he’s not fighting giant killer toys (seriously that happens a third of the way through) he’s facing off against goons in scuba suits, men firing on him from helicopters, and the usual faceless soldiers with the worst aim ever. Later in the collection, he fights a guy named Shaka Kharn (heh, get it?) who is a demon warrior. The villains also have insane doomsday devices like a Solar Chute, a giant hourglass, and many more sci-fi level ideas. The villains in this collection tend to be lower level fighters, but there are a few supervillain style villains too opening this up and making it even better than what James Bond could face.
Reason 3: A special agent with special skills
Unlike James Bond, Shang-Chi isn’t about gadgets but instead is all about stone cold highly specialized fighting. Throughout this trade, he’s zipping around the globe fighting threats only a man of his talents can take on. When a rifle is thrust into his hand midway through this collection he uses it as a stick and beats all the enemies back. The fighting choreography is on point revealing a sweaty but always calm fighting style. It’s quite easy to see the resemblance to Bruce Lee seeing as he’s usually shirtless, ripped, and beating folks with a quick punch.
Reasons to be wary?
There is the matter of a somewhat prejudiced look at Shang-Chi as a man from China and other Chinese related villains in this collection. Hell, the fact that Shang-Chi is colored yellowish orange throughout the collection definitely seems racist in its own right. Generally speaking though the character is written with great respect and never in a derogatory way. The stories collected here were written in 1975 through 1977 and it was a different time and likely the creators didn’t realize how they were portraying the character for future generations.
Is there a rationale for the reasons?
I’ve never dabbled with this series and I’m kicking myself now for it. This is without a doubt one of the coolest espionage meets kung fu stories ever written. Shang-Chi is an incredible character and he has so many awesome villains to fight in this collection. If Marvel Studios can pull off what this comic achieves we might not even care about James Bond in 10 years.
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