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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Shang-Chi Key Comic Books

Since there are rumors regarding Shang-Chi joining what Marvel and Netflix have going on in their live-action world, this key issues list was requested. Apparently, it's been speculated that Shang-Chi just might pop up in the Iron Fist Netflix TV series which will commence filming quite soon.

Casting for Steel Serpent, Joy & Ward Meachum, Colleen Wing, and Davos the Steel Serpent are in the rumor mill and shouldn't be any surprise. I have featured most of them in the Iron Fist Key Issues list done awhile back.

While I'm on the fence about Shang-Chi possibly popping up in the Iron Fist TV series, I'm kinda for it and kinda not at the same time. When it comes to not, it's simply because I'd rather see other characters brought into the fold. However, when it comes to for that possible decision, it does make sense and it would be extremely easy to throw Shang-Chi in there like it is for the Punisher dropping in on the Daredevil Netflix series.

Although not as popular as when the martial arts craze hit the U.S. during the early 70s, Shang-Chi does have a somewhat impressive mythos. His early years established more recurring characters and specific foes that many other more popular characters of today did during their early start in comics.

So, here we are with a Shang-Chi key comic books list. I will not be mentioning villains or characters who are one-offs, meaning they show up once and poof...never to be seen again.

There will be some minor villain keys though. There are quite a lot of those as well as one-off characters that pop up in Shang-Chi comics. There's also a lot of characters or villains who just show up 3 or 4 times and poof! I probably won't torture you with all those 1st appearances but there will be some.

Anyways, let's get some Kung-Fu fightin' on!

1st appearance of Shang-Chi
1st Marvel appearance of Fu Manchu
1st appearance of Dennis Nayland Smith
1st appearance of the Si-Fan

During the 70s, martial arts films began to filter into the U.S. from Asia, and it started a craze. Although martial arts is very prevalent nowadays, it was not that well-known or popular within the U.S. before this time.

Wanting to adapt the Kung-Fu TV series but being declined in obtaining the licenses, Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin created their own character called Shang-Chi, and debuted him in this issue. Marvel had obtained the rights to the pulp fiction characters Fu Manchu and Sir Denis Nayland Smith, both created by Sax Rohmer.

These pulp characters were worked into the mythos of Shang-Chi, and the titular character is actually the son of the evil Fu Manchu, real name Zheng Zu. Rebelling against his father's quest for world domination, Shang-Chi became the arch enemy of Fu Manchu and vice versa.

The Si-Fan are Fu Manchu's army or assassins. Although many are nameless, they are recurring henchmen of the big bad in this comic series.

Taking from the pulp stories, Dennis Nayland Smith is also a major supporting character in the Shang-Chi comics, and he often helps Shang-Chi in their goal to stop his father. Nayland was a former MI-6 member.

This was a popular comic back in the day, although Shang-Chi only has a cult following nowadays. The genre of martial arts comics would also include such characters such as Iron Fist, Sons of the Tiger, White Tiger, and Daughters of the Dragon (Colleen Wing and Misty Knight).

Shang-Chi's 1st appearance in this issue is no longer a sleeper by any means. CGC 9.8s have finally crossed over the $1000 mark due to recent rumors that he may be added to the Iron Fist Netflix show.

Needless to say, this comic is a bit hot now. Special Marvel Edition #15 has the cover date of December, 1973.

2nd appearance of Shang-Chi
1st appearance of Midnight

2nd appearance of Shang-Chi, and, of course, the 2nd cover appearance of Shang-Chi. This issue also has the 2nd Marvel appearance of Fu Manchu and his Si-Fan assassins.

Although Midnight isn't a big recurring villain, the character is the adoptive of Shang-Chi. Like the titular character, Fu Manchu raised and trained Midnight to be his tool or henchmen.

He surprisingly does show up in other comics outside of the Shang-Chi world, even appearing as part of Kang's group the Legion of the Unliving in Avengers #131 & #132. The character even showed up in a few Silver Surfer issues as well.

This Midnight's real name is M'Nia and shouldn't be confused with the Jack Wilde Midnight character. He is sometimes called Midnight Sun, and Special Marvel Edition #16 has the cover date of February, 1974.

1st issue to headlining series
3rd appearance of Shang-Chi
1st appearance of Black Jack Tarr

Although Overstreet notes this issue tying with Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu #1 because they have the same cover date, this issue here was copyrighted a month earlier in January and most likely hit the stands before Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu #1.

Therefore, I'm marking this bad boy as the 3rd appearance of Shang-Chi since Overstreet and CGC have changed notations of other comics, because of fans comparing arrival date stamps for comics that tied each other with the same cover date. However, this being a 3rd appearance of Shang-Chi isn't the only important thing about this comic.

Special Marvel Edition is changed to Master of Kung-Fu with this issue, and Shang-Chi becomes the star of the titled comic series. Moreover, this issue sees the first appearance of Black Jack Tarr, an early main supporting character for the featured hero in this series.

Black Jack Tarr is MI-6 and serves under Dennis Nayland Smith. They would join forces with Shang-Chi and combine their efforts in defeating Fu Manchu.

Important supporting character for Shang-Chi? Yessum! An important issue for Shang-Chi? Yeppers! Master of Kung Fu #17 has the cover date of April, 1974.

1st issue to titled series
4th appearance of Shang-Chi
1st appearance of Cho Lin

In the 4th appearance of Shang-Chi, he remembers when he was 14 years old and his father sent assassins to try to kill him. This was a test to see if Shang-Chi had what it took.

Cho Lin is one of the instructors that helped to train Shang-Chi so he could become the Master of Kung-Fu. Once again, this issue has the same cover date, but the copyright date is one month later than Master of Kung-Fu #17.

Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu #1 has the cover date of April, 1974.

1st appearance of Peku
1st Paul Gulacy in titled series
1st Paul Gulacy Shang-Chi work
5th appearance of Shang-Chi?

When it comes to hailed artists for the Master of Kung-Fu comic series, Paul Gulacy is definitely a fan-favorite. This is the 1st Paul Gulacy work in the titled series, and it also happens to be the 1st Paul Gulacy Shang-Chi artwork done by the hailed comic artist.

His first published artwork was in Adventure into Fear #20. For fans of this comic series, this is definitely one to consider and pretty over-looked in the market so far.

Every evil big bad should have a pet of some kind. Well, Fu Manchu has pet monkey, and that monkey is Peku. Oddly but not surprising at all, Peku does show up often in the Shang-Chi comics since his father is the hero's arch nemesis.

I am not sure what the 5th appearance of Shang-Chi is or if it is this issue. There are three comics that may be it, but I'm more certain that this one is his 5th appearance. I'll explain why I think so as we move along.

Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu #2 has the same cover date as this comic, but it has the copyright date of April 9th, 1974. Master of Kung-Fu #18 has the cover date of June, 1974 and the copyright date of March 26, 1974.

1st appearance of Ducharme
6th appearance of Shang-Chi?

I believe that Overstreet notes this issue as the 1st-time origin of Shang-Chi, but I don't think this is correct. Sure the story is called, "The Origin of Shang-Chi", but it is a black and white reprint of Special Marvel Edition #15, which is Shang-Chi's 1st appearance.

So, I don't necessarily think that a reprint is the 1st-time origin. Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu #2 does have the 1st appearance of Ducharme, though.

Ducharme is Fu Manchu's closest aide, but it would later be revealed that Ducharme is actually a double-agent, a mole planted by Dennis Wayland Smith. She would later change sides, and infiltrated MI-6 under Fu Manchu's orders.

Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #2 has the cover date of June, 1974. Despite the question mark next to the key notation, I think this issue has a good chance of being the 6th appearance of Shang-Chi.

1st Iron Fist & Shang Chi on cover together

Okay, I put this one on here for reasons other than the key notation above, which isn't really that big a key to begin with. The main story is called "The Master Plan of Fu Manchu", and it is broken up into three parts and an epilogue at the end.

This is often noted as the 1st team up between the Marvel martial arts characters, but not by Overstreet or CGC I think. A team-up is kind of correct but kind of not. While the characters are all seen together in the very first splash page of the comic, it's a pin up and the characters do not actually meet nor fight together in any panel or scene throughout the actual story.

The Sons of the Tiger are in Part 1 of the story and the epilogue. Part 2 has Iron Fist, whom also shows up in the epilogue. Part 3 has Shang-Chi's contributions against Fu Manchu.

None of the heroes are fighting in the same location at the same time, so they do not run into each other at all. So, yes they're in the same story and their efforts are against Fu Manchu, but they are not seen together in a traditional comic book team up.

Also, it's not clear whether this came out June, 1974 or has the cover date of June, 1974. It does say Summer, 1974 so I'm guessing it probably hit the stands in June.

At least, that would make sense, right? Still, not too sure about it, but I logically think that this issue came out after Master of Kung-Fu #18 and Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu #2.

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1st Doug Moench & Paul Gulacy collaboration
1st Doug Moench work on Master of Kung Fu

Gerry Conway usually has the writing credits for most sources when it comes to this issue, but it is co-written by Doug Moench also. Conway scripted pages 1 through 14, and Doug Moench pages 15 through 32 of this comic book.

Since we've been talking about artists and writers well-known for being influential on a titled series, it would be strange not to mention the collaboration between Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy when it comes to Shang-Chi and the Master of Kung-Fu series. Master of Kung-Fu #20 marks the 1st collaborative work between Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy ever and especially on the Master of Kung Fu title.

The collaborative team of Moench and Gulacy are fan-favorites and are known for pushing the title to the next level of goodness. Although they are not the ones to create Shang-Chi, this creative team are known for being influential to the titled series. 

Doug Moench's more well-known comic creations are the characters Moon Knight and Deathlok, but Paul Gulacy and Moench did create a few characters for the Shang-Chi mythos such as Leiko Wu and Clive Reston.

So, important comic for fans of Shang-Chi, Paul Gulacy, Doug Moench and those who grew up reading the adventures in Master  of Kung-Fu written and penciled by the creative duo. September, 1974 is the cover date for Master of Kung-Fu #20 and has the copyright date of June 18, 1974.

1st Giant-Size Master of Kung Fu issue

Although Shang-Chi isn't the most popular of characters today in the Marvel Universe, he did star in quite a few comics. The Master of Kung Fu volume one went to 125 issues with one annual and four giant-sized issues.

That's not too bad. Other heroes or characters have had less than that for their very first headlining comic series.

This is the 1st issue to the giant-size format for the Master of Kung Fu. There are three Shang-Chi related comics that have the cover date of September, 1974. Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu #4 also has the same cover date, but the copyright date is August, 1974. Therefore, DHKF #4 most likely hit the stands after the two comic issues.

No 1st appearances or origin story expansion for this issue though. Giant-Size Master of Kung-Fu #1 has the cover date of September, 1974. Copyright date is June 25, 1974.

1st meeting between Shang-Chi & Spider-Man
1st Shang-Chi & Spider-Man team-up
1st Shang-Chi cross-over

Making sure that Shang-Chi was definitely connected to the Marvel Universe, we have his first meeting with everyone's favorite Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. It's not a huge team-up since Shang-Chi and Spider-Man weren't really all that connected to each other's mythos in comics, but out of the Marvel superheroes, Shang-Chi does team up with Spidey more than the others during his early years.

I do think this issue might be Shang-Chi's 1st cross-over comic as well, since he doesn't seem to appear outside his regular titles of Master of Kung Fu and Deadly Hands of Kung Fu prior to Giant-Size Spider-Man, especially in another character's story.

Not exactly a highly sought-out or in-demand key issue at the moment, even in high grades. However, it is a Spidey and Shang-Chi key issue, so fans of both might want to take note. Giant-Size Spider-Man #2 has the cover date of October, 1974.

Important characters so far in the Shang-Chi mythos? Well, it's obvious that Fu Manchu (Zheng Zu), the father and arch nemesis of Shang-Chi, is one.

Black Jack Tarr and Dennis Nayland Smith are definitely other important supporting characters also. Ducharme might be one to consider as well. 

Shang-Chi is more of the Marvel street-hero line up, and often fights street-level crime like Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Punisher. The Master of Kung-Fu obviously deals with quite a few crime elements in New York's Chinatown

So, I can definitely see the connection and how easy it would be to implement this character into what Marvel and Netflix are building. That doesn't mean I'm entirely excited about it though, but I ain't all that upset either.

Pretty much on the fence about it. If they do it or don't, no biggie to me either way.

There are a few other important supporting characters and key issues within the Shang-Chi mythos, and we'll be seeing them in Part 2 to this series so click the link below to continue.

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