Comic Book Recap & Review – Shang-Chi (2020)

Today’s post is a recap and review of the comic Shang-Chi, which finished up its five issue run earlier this year. I didn’t really know anything about Shang-Chi before seeing the new movie a few weeks ago. So, I’m interested to see what background info this recent comic may provide.

Recap (Spoiler Alert!)

The comic begins with a brief history lesson on the founding of the Five Weapons Society and how Zheng Zu became the leader of the group. It tells about how Zheng Zu then went on to lead the society to defend China against numerous threats over many centuries before being defeated by his own son, Shang-Chi. It turns out the narrator of this tale so far is Master Staff, who is telling the tale of the great Zheng Zu to his underlings. Immediately after telling the story, he is challenged by Sister Hammer, who is displeased with his command of the society. The two engage in battle, with Sister Hammer dealing the final blow, which leads to Master Staff’s torch going out on their father’s shrine. This indicates his rule of the society is over, but a new torch is lit, one that indicates the Hand has been chosen as leader. Sister Hammer is furious and promises to prove her worth to her father’s spirit so that she may rule the society. She then beats the remaining soldiers into submission, and they agree to follow her lead even though Zu’s shrine did not pick her. She announces she’s sending them to the USA. The story then cuts to San Francisco where Shang-Chi is working in a bakery. He’s flying through orders when a beautiful woman named Delilah walks into the shop. She asks him why he’s working in her auntie’s shop since he’s a superhero. It turns out he’s not great a holding down jobs, and the shop owner offered to let him live in one of her apartments in exchange for some help. She slips him her number when her auntie returns and ushers her into the back for some soup. Shang-Chi notices someone prowling on the roof with a gun and goes to investigate. He is caught at gun point by Leiko Wu, a British secret agent. He disarms her, and she says she needs to speak with him urgently. They go to his apartment, and Leiko tells Shang-Chi his father’s society is still active and in the city targeting him. At that moment, people burst into the apartment and a fight ensues. It is two of Shang-Chi’s siblings and some of Sister Hammer’s warriors. When they find out that Shang-Chi is Brother Hand, the rightful ruler of the society, Shang-Chi’s siblings kill the other men and attempt to enlist him in a fight against Sister Hammer before she destroys the world. Shang-Chi realizes that Sister Hammer is his little sister who he grew up with for a time, and he decides to attempt to save her from his father’s cult even though she is trying to kill him.

Shang-Chi reflects on the last time he saw his sister as a child; his father found the two of them exploring parts of his compound that were forbidden and then separated them forever. Shang-Chi assumed she was dead and doesn’t know how to feel now the he knows she was alive this entire time. Shang-Chi and Leiko fly to the House of the Deadly Staff, and he jumps out of the plane after programming the plan to return Leiko home despite much resistance from her. As Shang-Chi descends, a shot fired by his sister rips through his parachute, but he manages to land easily. He quickly defeats some of the soldiers sent to kill him before confronting his sister. They have a tear-filled reunion full of hugs, tears, and sharing a meal before his sister explains how their father’s spirit passed over her to lead in favor of Shang-Chi. Shang-Chi attempts to persuade her to leave the society while doubling over in pain. Unsurprisingly, it turns out the meal was poisoned, and Shang-Chi collapses into unconsciousness. He wakes up only to be surrounded by zombie vampire creatures, and a fight ensues. He is damaged and begins bleeding what looks like the night sky before being rescued by some of his other siblings, the same ones who initially came to warn him. As they are escaping in a boat, Shang-Chi begins to see a zombie/vampire version of his father speaking to him.

His siblings take Shang-Chi to the House of the Dagger outside of Paris, France. They explain to him why there are houses of the Five Warriors scattered across the world. His father wanted to keep tabs on the nations that attempted to take over China in the early 20th century. While in Paris, Shang-Chi has been training there to learn to fight Sister Hammer’s deadly vampire zombies. He has learned a lot about how to defeat the creatures, but his wound from the fight with them continues to grow despite having stopped bleeding. While examining his wound, Shang-Chi begins to see his father again. He beckons Shang-Chi toward his shrine and gets him to move it, which shows there is another shrine behind it for Shang-Chi’s uncle that holds a map of some sort. When Sister Dagger finds that he has desecrated his father’s shrine by moving it, she attacks him and forces him out of her house. He goes to a library to research the map but finds nothing. He reaches out to Leiko for help searching for clues and finds out MI5 is planning an attack on his family. He also learns that Sister Hammer is currently attacking the Louvre. Shang-Chi goes to confront her again, but she has brought a vampire zombie with her to help find a specific urn. When she gives it the order to find it, Shang-Chi feels compelled to comply to her orders as well until his other siblings show up and shake him out of it. A fight ensues that leaves Sister Hammer on the losing side until the vampire zombie shows up with the urn she was looking for. She orders the vampire zombie to explode, and it set off a bomb giving her the cover to escape with her prize.

Shang-Chi and his two siblings use the map he found to go to their uncle’s tomb. It turns out the ghost Shang-Chi has been seeing is his uncle and not his father. As they enter a cave, the three of them are approached by a giant monster that is guarding the tomb. At the same time, MI5 is attacking the headquarters of Sister Hammer, and all of them are defeated and turned into more zombie vampires for her army. Back in the cave, the monster attacks the three siblings and appears indestructible. Sister Dagger and Brother Sabre tell Shang-Chi to keep going into the tomb while they hold off the monster guardian. He arrives at the grave and performs the appropriate rituals. Then his uncle appears before him and asks what he needs. Shang-Chi explains he needs help defeating the zombie vampires and healing his wounds, but his uncle recognizes he needs more than that. Shang-Chi tells him he wants to be free of the cult his father created to live in the normal world. His uncle tells him the story of how Zheng Zu killed him. It turns out Zheng Zu wanted to sacrifice his life to give his brother the power to defeat the British invaders, who used the power of Dormammu to crush their society, but his brother wouldn’t have it and left his powers to Zheng Zu instead. The death of his brother left Zheng Zu out of balance and tipped him into becoming the man who ruled by fear and coveted strength and power. Shang-Chi’s uncle explained to him that he cannot run away from his family because they will always be a part of him and necessary for him to maintain balance within himself. While this conversation is ongoing, the siblings are still fighting the monster, who tells them Zheng Zu’s plan for revenge includes Shang-Chi defeating Sister Hammer before causing the world to burn once he becomes commander. At that moment, Shang-Chi returns, and, together, the three of the siblings are able to overpower the monster and leave the cave with Brother Sabre now suspicious of Shang-Chi.

The vampire zombies, along with Sister Hammer, attack London! MI5 soldiers put up a valiant fight, but they are quickly being eaten by the enemy. Just as all hope seems lost, Shang-Chi and his siblings, along with other warriors, drop into the battle. They all fight valiantly, and Shang-Chi and his siblings go after Sister Hammer. As he gets closer to her, Shang-Chi’s wounds pulsate and spread while his mind becomes cluttered by her orders to destroy the city. Sister Hammer attacks and orders Shang-Chi to kill the other siblings. Shang-Chi manages to resist the order and tells his siblings to get away. Sister Hammer places a microchip of some sort onto his forehead, but he is still able to resist it’s control. However, now that he’s connected like the others, he can see that she is using the chips to implant her own grievance into the vampire zombies, which is helping to keep them animated. Shang-Chi uses the chip to step into her memory, and he sees that her grievance is tied to her mistreatment by their father. Sister Hammer and Shang-Chi confront the memory, and it loses its hold on Sister Hammer once she sees her father for what he truly was, a man gripped by fear, hate, and loneliness after the death of his brother. They both come to realize the hold their father has had on their life, with Shang-Chi fighting to become the opposite of what he wanted and Sister Hammer attempting to become exactly what he wanted. However, Sister Hammer interprets it to be Shang-Chi taking away her purpose in life and begins to attack him. Leiko arrives and tries to shoot Sister Hammer, but Shang-Chi stops the bullet. Sister Hammer escapes. Meanwhile, all the zombie vampires collapse now that the memory fueling them has lost its power. Later, Shang-Chi moves out of his apartment to take up the mantle of Commander of the Five Weapons Society and declares it to be a new era for the group that will focus on being protectors of China.

My Review

This was a great story to start with having no prior knowledge of Shang-Chi. It gave a lot of information about his background and delivered the history in a way that was compelling and interesting. It reminded me of the movie in many ways with its focus on his ties to his father and sister, but it used them in slightly different ways. I enjoyed the infusion of some Chinese history and the information about the different rebellions and things the colonizing countries did to the Chinese people. Ultimately, it was a story about family and finding peace with the negative life influences family can sometimes have. Overall, I enjoyed the story, and I’m looking forward to seeing where the character of Shang-Chi goes next in the comics since there were a few story threads left open-ended.

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