In the 70's and the 80's this comic book series further opened my eyes to the makings of mature comic book storytelling. This was one of the titles that made me abandon most DC titles since it had such complex stories and the themes used in them were truly meant for the adult mind. I mean I was a mere 8 years old and I was reading stories about a martial artist who opposes his father. I have recently started re-reading them, and I have to say Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy's run is by far my favorite. The later ones in the 80's with artist Mike Zeck are also just as good and provides closure to the story of father and son.
Shang Chi's name means the rising and advancing of a spirit. The stories are filled with themes of betrayal, manipulation, love and honor as only the writers in Marvel can deliver. The stories were quite risky, as they touched upon a core about a son who means to end his father's evil or die trying. The characters are also quite clever. Reston, Sir Denis, Leiko, Cat, Black jack Tar, M'Nai and Fu Manchu kept me on the edge of my seat. I was so excited to see how it would all end and I was not disappointed.
Shang Chi had played some parts in other titles mostly after Fu Manchu's death. He is a superb martial artist caught in super-hero struggles at times. His appearance is somewhat modeled after the late Bruce Lee. The comic proved so so successful that it spawned other titles such as "Deadly Hands of Kung Fu" (with Iron Fist) and DC tried to emulate it with "Richard Dragon Kung Fu fighter" (of course Lady Shiva was introduced on this title) and Legion of Super-Heroes' Karate Kid's appearance was altered later by Mike Grell. But this was martial arts comic book mayhem at its best. I have so happy that re-reading these issues, it has held up well even with my more sophisticated tastes these days.
Master of Kung Fu was revived in the 2000's by Marvel's Max Line but it didn't feel the same. I hope to see more of Shang-Chi, not as a Secret Avenger but doing what he does best....doing Kung Fu moves!
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