Shang-Chi (2020), Vol 1: Brothers & Sisters, illustrated by Dike Ruan and Philip Tan
Shang-Chi is holding down a normal job in a Chinese bakery in San Francisco’s Chinatown when remnants of his past life break in and demand he be pulled back into the cult of his father. Sister Hammer, Shi-Hua, recently killed the Supreme Commander of the Five Weapons Society, but rather than put her in charge, the flame of their father’s spirit alights on the Fist. Enraged that her father’s spirit would pick her brother, Shang-Chi (especially after Shang-Chi practically murdered their father), Shi-Hua sets a plan in motion to kill her brother and finally become the rightful Supreme Commander. But, two others oppose her usurpation. Brother Sabre and Sister Dagger seek out Shang-Chi and help him regain the strength and will to take his rightful place as leader of the Five Weapons. Shang-Chi is sent down his path to confronting his destiny and the family he thought he left behind.
Shang-Chi is an interesting super hero story in that it is steeped in ancient Chinese folklore with a dash of history as it relates to how the Five Weapons Society’s crusade to protect China from colonizing forces. Gene Luen Yang is know for crafting engaging stories, and this has promise to be one of them. Like many volume ones in a new run, the primary focus of this volume is setting up the world that we are dropped into at the beginning of issue 1, so there isn’t as much room to flex the creative storytelling muscles Yang has. However, the foundation laid with Shang-Chi’s journey and conflict with his family promises to be a fulfilling story. With the announcement of Shang-Chi joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this is a good bet to have on your shelves for interested students.
Dike Ruan’s illustrations are colorful and enjoyable, but Philip Tan’s flashback art isn’t my favorite. Everything is very efphemeral, especially in facial details where there are lots of shading lines with less definitive facial features.
Sara’s Rating: 8/10
Suitability Level: Grades 7-12
Publication Date: March 30th 2021
ISBN: 9781302924850 (Paperback)
Tags: Rating: 8/10, Suitability: Middle School, Suitability: High School, Comicbooks, Superheroes, Family, Action Adventure
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