In Review – ‘The Legend of Shang Chi’ #1 (2021).

(Images used only for review purposes).

‘The Legend of Shang-Chi’ – issue #1 92021).

Written by Alyssa Wong.

Art by Andie Tong.

Colours by Rachelle Rosenberg.

Lettering by VC’s Travis Lanham.

Cover by Andie Tong and Rachelle Rosenberg.

23 pages – Full Colour – £3.19 on ComiXology.

The Story – ‘Deadly Hands vs. Deadly Blades! Someone has been stealing artifacts of WMD potential. It’s up to Shang-Chi to find this person and stop them. But is he prepared to go toe-to-toe with Lady Deathstrike?!’

The Cover – It’s a pretty solid cover with a nice iconic image. Shang has come a long way since the days of Gulacy, Zeck and Day but retains something of his old world and now has a dash of the new. Andie Tong’s art is pretty solid throughout and I’d happily read him on this if it becomes an ongoing. I also snagged the poster that Marvel sent out to comics shops.

The Review(Warning – Spoilers Ahead.) I could probably just write ‘Pretty good art, story weak and with holes’ and it would suffice. But let’s dig a little deeper shall we.

The story in this one-shot (I’m guessing one-shot?) is pretty simple in structure. Shang-Chi meets old flame Leiko Wu and she asks him to steal a sword from The British Museum. He goes in at night, runs into some trouble with Lady Deathstrike and they fight. Who get’s the sword/wins the fight/survives/gets away? You know the sort of thing right?

Story Cringe #1 – If you are hiring a martial arts master/Avenger to do a secret off the books operation because MI-6 can’t be seen to be involved don’t meet and have ice cream outside the front of the place you are intending to rob?

Story Cringe #2 – As Shang is walking towards the museum that night both of the following narrations are not required! ….. ‘You’ll have to steal it tonight’. ‘That night’ You can see in the page below that these panels are literally right next to each other! Why? Not funny. Not cute. Reads strangely. Shakes head.

Story Cringe #3 – In the same sequence that we see Leiko is chatting directly to Shang through his earpiece that is on show very obviously in panels two and the close-up in panel three. She then refers to the camera she has placed on his lapel. A – We don’t then see the camera. B – There is no lapel.

Story Cringe #4 – Shang then suddenly finds himself in the main hall of the British Museum. It looks great and you can see that the artist has taken great care in getting the correct reference. But….how did he get in? The museum is closed at night. We retrospectively get a view of the back of his jacket that says ‘Security’ – is that meant to be some explanation? I’m guessing that this came from Editorial?

Story Cringe #5 – How long is that sword on page 8? You may have to buy a copy to find that one out but the answer is waaaaaaay too long!

Story Cringe #6 – How does Lady Deathstrike retain the main part of the blade at the end? She pretty much has the whole extra-long blade on the last page. She had already been punched through the window and down on to the street before Shang broke it and freed the souls of museum staff (yep, another sword that steals souls! Who would have thought it?!)

Story Cringe #7 – After all this fighting, stabbing, crashing through windows and stealing/breaking antique swords Leiko takes Shang for more ice cream. Guess where they go? Yep, right out the front of the museum they just robbed. Apparently, according to Leiko, ‘It’s all over social media. What a scandal.’

It feels like this script was written with all the thought that goes into buying a Cadbury’s Feast! (That is an ice-cream on a stick that is common in the UK).

This book does feel like it was designed to be released around the time of the upcoming movie but with the ending of the recent mini-series is there to continue the Shang-Chi momentum. I am a life-long MOKF fan and think he’s pretty much the best character out there but I am at a loss as to why this is called ‘Legend of…’ That title doesn’t really fit this overly simplistic story and would fit better into something of larger scope and scale.

I read in a recent review on Games Radar that the writer was a newcomer to this character. Alyssa Wong clearly doesn’t understand the weight placed historically in the series of first person narration. It was always one of the big draws to the character in that we saw everything through his life. These classic narration boxes are replaced with the chatter between Leiko and Shang on his earpiece. This is really obtrusive. It is also often quite maddeningly unoriginal. ‘…you can’t let her take the Equinox Blade’ or ‘Shang-Ch! Deathstrike is getting away!’ (We know, we have eyes, we are reading the comic, we can see!)

The genuine high-point for this book was the art. Andie Tong handles the fight scenes with a real sense of weight and power. The two fighters are equally matched and you do feel a sense of jeopardy and danger. There’s a moment where Shang is sliced through at his side but I’m OK that this wasn’t as realistic as it perhaps could have been due to the ages of those reading this when the movie comes out (hopefully). The art on this shows Shang as a young man but not as a child which is what I felt was a huge failing on the last outing. With some better plotting and dialogue Andie would be a good choice to add depth and range back to Shang-Chi.

In Conclusion – I’m sorry but I really can’t recommend this to anyone other than MOKF completists. This plot and the writing that attempted to realise it just seem lazy. I also feel that a good editor who was paying attention would have spotted all the holes that needed explaining along the way. I don’t expect the writer to have studied spy tactics or even been to London but most of these plot cringes are obvious for anyone threading a visually sequential story.

Many thanks for reading.

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