Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Gene Luen Yang
Artist: Marcus To
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Release Date: February 23rd 2022
Clearly depicting the titular character’s facially-disfigured grandfather as this series’ central villain, as well as suggesting to the comic’s audience that a low-level thug residing in Hawaii is actually a prospective heir to Zheng Zu’s villainy, this “next phase of Shang-Chi’s legend” strives to provide its readers with an enthralling mixture of treacherous intrigue and utterly insane action. But whilst Gene Luen Yang’s central plot purely focuses upon Chieftain Xin’s utterly ruthless obsession to destroy everyone in the Master of Kung Fu’s bloodline, the actual logic as to just how his dinosaur-like taotie both scent and then subsequently track their hapless victims is perhaps a little contrived.
Indeed, having been summoned out of thin air from the dimension of Ta-Lo, the voracious beasts seem understandably intent on savagely dispatching the owner of the blood from which they materialised – Commander Hand. However, having quickly lost one of their number to the martial arts expert and his two equally skilled sisters, the surviving two beasts suddenly slope straight off Mauna Kea Summit so as to attack the utterly dislikeable mugger, Falo, and the Colorado-contained prisoner Deadly Sabre. Just why the “sharp-toothed beasts” depart having failed to successfully gorge themselves upon the flesh of Shang-Chi, Esme and Sister Staff is unexplained, as is how one of the fiends somehow locates Takeshi buried deep inside a maximum security prison for super villains on another land mass…?
Fortunately though, once such quibbles are set aside, this twenty-page periodical contains an incredible amount of sense-shattering shenanigans with which to beguile even the most casual bibliophile. Yang’s portrayal of Xin as an untrustworthy, lying, homicidal maniac is pretty much faultless, as the guardian of Qilin Island’s stone gateway readily admits deceiving the “Chi-Meister” with the promise of Jiang Li’s safe return, simply so his fearsome Qilin Riders could ambush Zheng Zu’s son and brutally ride him down with their bestial mounts.
Likewise, there is plenty to admire within the artwork of Marcus To, who was announced a few months prior to this comic’s release as the title’s new ongoing artist. The Canadian illustrator does a first-rate job of penciling all the anger-fueled violence of this book’s battles with Xin and the taotie, and it is abundantly clear why he was also chosen in September 2021 to live stream a ‘How to Draw Shang-Chi’ video for the New York-based publisher’s YouTube page.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]