Shang-Chi got a new #1 last month, even though it’s the same creative team behind the recent-Chi miniseries by Gene Luen Yang and Dike Ruan. That makes sense though, as this new series spins out of that one, setting up a Shang-Chi who is now the boss of his father’s once-evil empire. Dedicated to clearing his family’s name, Shang-Chi is attempting to navigate bad-guy territory to right wrongs but also do it covertly so superheroes like Captain America don’t get the wrong idea.
Billed as a Shang-Chi vs. Captain America comic, this issue is actually more about Shang-Chi infiltrating a supervillain auction. Well, maybe “infiltrating” isn’t quite the right term, since he’s technically the boss of a major evil operation, but the other villains don’t know that. Yang and Ruan have got themselves a fun premise on their hands here as Shang-Chi must remain undercover while evil things are said and done right in front of him.
I’ll say no more about the plot to avoid spoilers, but as you can see from the preview Shang-Chi and Captain America are in a prickly situation. The setup of the issue is delightfully fun and it’s a reminder this book is very agile as it zips around. Last issue, Spider-Man joined Shang-Chi to crack down on a secret operation, but now we’re fully experiencing M.O.D.O.K. and other familiar villains when they’re comfortable and casually evil.
It’s here where the issue truly shines, leaning into the weirdness of Marvel villains and A.I.M. agents. Shang-Chi ends up being the least interesting thing in the room, but given the setup, he’s an observer like the reader and that’s okay.
The art by Ruan is as good as the last issue, and Tríona Tree Farrell’s colors continue to amplify the work. The color tends to darken the book and put it in a moodier atmosphere, which works well to reduce the cartoony nature of someone calling out M.O.D.O.K. and his tiny arms, for instance. Ruan is very good at capturing a mood and attitude, which you get in different scenes either with Shang-Chi in shock and awe or totally killing it when entering a party. You feel every blow thanks to good use of speed lines behind characters as they leap and punch, but there’s also good timing when it comes to quieter beats in the action.
Shang-Chi #2 continues to be a rollicking good time. It’s fun and not afraid to try out new takes on the hero fights hero concept. It’s also episodic in nature, allowing for anyone to dip in and enjoy the adventure while ever so slightly building towards a showdown between Shang-Chi and Marvel’s greatest heroes.
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