The misunderstood superhero vs. superhero fight is a common trope in comics, and the ongoing Shang-Chi series is doing it very well. Gene Luen Yang and Dike Ruan have put Shang-Chi up against Spider-Man, Captain America, and Wolverine, but this week in Shang-Chi #4 he’s fighting the Fantastic Four. In the latest issue, Shang-Chi wakes up from a nightmare that features a mysterious woman, but he soon learns he must head to the Negative Zone to find her.
Shang-Chi is now the leader of the Five Weapons Society, but he’s trying to make amends for his father’s terrible deeds by closing up locations or fixing things his father started. In this latest issue, however, Shang-Chi goes a bit rogue as he follows his heart and goes against Mr. Fantastic’s wishes. More specifically, Shang-Chi and his lost siblings head to the Baxter Building to break in.
This issue, like the entire series so far, is an action-packed thrill ride. Shang-Chi and his family must fight through not one, but two swarms of enemies, though each is different. Ruan continues to draw an exceptional book with great detail and creative prowess. Tríona Tree Farrel does an exceptional job with the fantastical elements by Ruan, like the Negative Zone weirdness or the colorful bugs they fight there. Though Shang-Chi is young, Ruan draws a lot of emotion in him as if he’s lived a thousand years. There’s a wisdom and care in him you can see through his eyes.
If you’re considering purchasing this issue for the Fantastic Four fight, you won’t be too disappointed. There are some fun lines from Esme who is young, excited and doesn’t quite get who the Fantastic Four are. You’d think there’d be some fear when facing a flaming man, but Esme smiles and attacks with all her heart. The Thing gets a few swings in, but Shang-Chi’s ability to seemingly defy gravity due to his powers is on full display. Ultimately it’s short, but sweet.
Though you should know better since it’s part four of an arc, it’s probably not a good idea to start reading Shang-Chi with this issue. It’s a touch unclear what this mysterious woman means to Shang-Chi going forward, and there’s a bit less care taken by Shang-Chi when going against the Fantastic Four’s wishes. In previous issues, there was a bit of a misunderstanding at most, but here Shang-Chi is actually breaking some laws. It feels a bit outside his character in how he approaches getting to the Negative Zone and there isn’t enough pressure put on him to make him rush headlong into this adventure.
Shang-Chi #4 further advances Shang-Chi’s personal story while throwing another major Marvel staple against him. The Fantastic Four family must face Shang-Chi and his family and it’s yet another exciting chapter in a series that can be devoured by casual readers and Shang-Chi fans alike. After loving the film, it’s clear at this point Yang is doing a great job making Shang-Chi more accessible.
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