Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Reader's Diary #2095- Doug Moench (writer), Paul Gulacy (artist): Master of Kung Fu Volume 2

I don't recall having encountered Marvel's Shang Chi character until I heard the announcement that he was getting his own film in the MCU, played by Canada's own Simu Liu. So I tracked down a collection of Shang Chi comics: Master of Kung Fu: Fight Without Pity Volume 2 1975 - 1977.

It hasn't excited me for the movie much.

Some of this is my own preference. At least according to this collection, he doesn't have super-powers and his stories tend to be along the lines of spy stories (he's a reluctant recruit on MI6 missions). I've heard that in later Marvel stories he develops the ability to clone himself, so I'm unsure what Marvel Studios plans are. I'm not a fan of spy stories though. I never really enjoyed James Bond and likewise I'm also not all that excited in the upcoming Black Widow movie which also seems to be taking that sort of tone. Again though, it's a personal taste thing. I suspect many would love such an approach.

I also don't really get a sense of the character. Doug Moench's run on the character is supposed to be one of the better ones, and while there were definite strong points (which I will get to momentarily), strong characterization wasn't one of them. Chi is shown as usually stoic and quiet and the primary thoughts he shares is when he's annoyingly describing the action (this was a drawback to most superhero comics in the 70s and earlier, unfortunately). It doesn't give a lot of insight. I did find myself wondering if I hadn't made a mistake from starting from the second volume. Perhaps the origin story would have given me more of idea of what makes him tick. Then there were there the peripheral characters, largely other MI6 agents, all of whom I found tedious and interchangeable (macho men with racist, sexist tendencies).

I did, however, like Moench's approach to story-telling, often eschewing straight forward chronological timelines. I also liked Gulacy's art (even if it was quite 70s in its garish colours and disco chic style). He had quite inventive use of panels and some of the character faces and action scenes were well done.

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