Gene Luen Yang, Dike Ruan, and Philip Tan are wrapping up their Shang-Chi miniseries this week and like any good superhero comic, it ends in action and conflict! The series has been a great return for the character as it has to capture the positivity and hopefulness of the character while developing his backstory and character. The series started with Shang-Chi living a simple life, but in this final issue a war has come to London and only and his friends can stop it. Oh, also there are ancient Chinese vampires!
This issue mixes all-out action with interesting Chinese culture and clever ideas. How do you stop a vampire? You could use bullets, but an amulet written by a Taoist exorcist does the job even better. The action looks fantastic thanks to Ruan’s gritty style that keeps the choreography and many parties in the war clear and easy to follow. This is a battle that is taken on amongst rubble and fire, which heightens the drama.
It’s not all action, though, as Yang does a great job plotting this issue. Philip Tan is tasked with flashbacks again, and a key one helps add context to Sister Hammer and Shang-Chi’s relationships with their despicable father. Using a bit of tech, the two are able to explore hidden memories so as to understand how their upbringing made them into who they are. This scene fits nicely midway through the book and resolves an emotional story while the characters battle. This doesn’t resolve all their problems, though, since some fighting is required to truly make this a superhero book, but it ends in a satisfying way. It also ends so that you’ll want to see more from Shang-Chi’s sister and how their paths diverge further going forward.
The biggest complaint I have with this issue would fall to the last few pages. They are dense with dialogue, with so much talking going on it makes the ending feel too packed. No doubt the creative team ran out of pages to effectively close the door on the miniseries, but it’s strikingly wordy for a conclusion. That said, what is said is important to Shang-Chi’s journey, especially when compared to where he was at the start of the book. Those looking for romance in this series will be happy that Yang left the door open.
Shang-Chi #5 wraps up a story arc that leaves the title character more interesting and with a more complex world to explore than before it started. Yang continues to be one of the best writers at pace and plot while never losing sight of the emotional journey along the way. The art for this series is darker than most superhero tales but managed to capture the kung-fu and complexities of ancient societies in a dark and naturalistic way.
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