Many man smoke,
but Fu Manchu
(Editor’s note: Marvel Vice President Executive Editor Tom Brevoort has said that Shang-Chi, Marvel’s Master of Kung Fu from the 1970s, will breathe again in a new arc starting in
Secret Avengers #6. Despite a few modern-day appearances, many readers might not know the long, honorable history of this son of Fu Manchu. Captain Cosmic (aka Double-Naught Spy Byron Brewer) to the rescue!)
By Byron Brewer
I never will forget reading Special Marvel Edition #1
5 in 1973. I was not into the kung fu craze at all, although ninjas were popping out right and left, both in the color comics and in Marvel’s black and white magazine line; they threatened to take the Marvel Monsters’ place as kings of the newsstand.
But Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu, was different. For one thing, he was drawn by an artist who was becoming more popular and innovative by the month, Jim Starlin. And he was written by Steve Englehart, whose Dr. Strange
had become my top book of the period and is still a beloved memory.
The ‘70s sensation Shang-Chi will soon return to adventure again in the pages of Secret Avengers (
additionally Shadowland: Amazing Spider-Man)
, not as a member of that black ops team but as part of an arc involving the attempted resurrection of his mysterious father.
The story of Shang-Chi took the trappings of the craze of the era, but added the philosophy of the battle-sport, the wisdom you found not in ninja movies but at the heart of Dr. Strange
; it is a belief in separate realities and being responsible for what you sew in life. (A little Uncle Ben Parker goes a long way!)
Shang-Chi was born in the Hunan province of the People's Republic of China, and is the son of Fu Manchu, the Chinese mastermind who has repeatedly attempted world conquest. (It is doubtful you will see or even hear this character’s name in Secret Avengers
, since Marvel no longer owns the license.) Shangi-Chi was raised and trained in the martial arts by his father and his instructors. He was sent on a mission to murder Dr. Petrie, but he met Fu Manchu's arch-enemy, Sir Denis Nayland Smith, and learned that Fu Manchu was evil and rebelled against his father.
Shang-Chi battled Midnight, and then first met his close ally, Black Jack Tarr. Shangi-Chi became Smith’s ally and opposed Fu Manchu, battling the Si-Fan assassins. As a secret agent, he encountered the Man-Thing and first met your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Shang-Chi then met his friend, Clive Reston. Shang-Chi battled the Shadow-Stalker and Fu Manchu's Phansigar followers, and rescued Dr. Petrie from Fu Manchu. He then opposed his half-sister, Fah Lo Suee. He opposed Carlton Velcro, and battled Razor-Fist and Pavane. Shang-Chi then met and fell in love with Leiko Wu. Around this time, Shang-Chi met another great new Marvel character out of the same genre, Iron Fist. With his allies Smith, Tarr, Reston and Wu, Shang-Chi opposed Fu Manchu. With Tarr, Reston and Wu, he then quit MI-6.
As an adventurer, the Master of Kung Fu teamed with Iron Fist, White Tiger and Jack of Hearts aganst the Corporation. He then met the Thing and battled Hydra. He became involved in a game between Dr. Doom and the Prime Mover, later battling Skullcrusherand then Zaran. Shang-Chi opposed Fu Manchu and Fah Lo Suee once again. And with Smith, Tarr, Reston and Wu, he formed Freelance Restorations Ltd., which was based in Stormhaven Castle, Scotland.
Shang-Chi finally witnessed what was believed to be the death of Fu Manchu. He then teamed with the Space Knight Rom against the alien Dire Wraiths, proving any noble soil can become Cosmic! (Look at Jack Flag!) Not long after his father's death, Shang-Chi quit Freelance Restorations, forsook his life as an adventurer and retired to remote Yang-Tin, China, to live as a fisherman.
PRINCE OF ORPHANS
In the second major arc of Secret Avengers
, beginning with issue #6, Shang-Chi returns, as does the Prince of Orphans from Iron Fist
. Marvel Vice President Executive Editor Tom Brevoort described the story by writer Ed Brubaker as “a big globe-trotting chase as mysterious forces are attempting to resurrect Shang-Chi’s father-who-shall-not-be-named. And should they be successful in this, bad and terrible things will happen. So for the course of that arc, Shang-Chi and the Prince of Orphans will be in the book, and all the while the continuing mysteries and stories will role on through that.”
While my heart is Cosmic, there is a James Bond fan and Jim Steranko-phile in there too, and Secret Avengers
these days has it all together in the espionage biz!