Shang-Chi (Chinese: 上氣; pinyin: shàng qì; literally: "rising of the spirit") is a fictional character, often called the "Master of Kung Fu", appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. He was created by writer Steve Englehart and artist Jim Starlin. Shang-Chi is an extraordinary master of numerous unarmed and weaponry-based wushu styles, including the use of the gun, nunchaku and jian. In later years, upon joining the Avengers, he gains the power to create countless duplicates of himself.
Shang-Chi as depicted by Bob Larkin
|First appearance||Special Marvel Edition #15 (December 1973)|
|Created by||Steve Englehart|
|Team affiliations||Secret Avengers|
Heroes for Hire
|Notable aliases||Master of Kung-Fu|
Master martial artist
Ability to create duplicates of himself
The character was conceived in late 1972. Marvel had wished to acquire the rights to adapt the Kung Fu television program, but were denied permission by the show's owner, Warner Communications, owner of Marvel's primary rival, DC Comics. Instead, Marvel acquired the comic book rights to Sax Rohmer's pulp villain Dr. Fu Manchu. They developed Shang-Chi, a master of kung fu, who was introduced as a previously unknown son of Fu Manchu. Though an original character himself, many of Shang-Chi's supporting characters (most notably Fu Manchu and Sir Denis Nayland Smith) were Rohmer creations. No characters from the Kung Fu television series carried over into the comic series, though the character Lu Sung, in an early issue, bears a strong resemblance to Kwai Chang Caine with the addition of a moustache. With artist Paul Gulacy, his visual appearance was modeled after that of Bruce Lee.
Shang-Chi first appeared in Special Marvel Edition #15 (December 1973) by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin. Special Marvel Edition #1–14 were reprints of older Marvel superhero stories. Shang-Chi appeared again in issue #16, and with issue #17 (April 1974) the title was changed to The Hands of Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu. Amidst the martial arts craze in the United States in the 1970s, the book became very popular, surviving until issue #125 (June 1983), a run including four giant-size issues and an annual. He co-starred with Spider-Man in Giant-Size Spider-Man #2 and Marvel Team-Up #84-85. Shang-Chi teamed up with the Thing in Marvel Two-in-One #29. Special Collector's Edition #1 (1975) cover-titled as "Savage Fists of Kung Fu" reprinted stories from The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #1-2; The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu Special #1; and Special Marvel Edition #15. He did several crossovers with other Marvel martial artists, including the White Tiger, Iron Fist and the Daughters of the Dragon (Colleen Wing and Misty Knight). He appeared regularly in The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu.
Shang-Chi had two more short series: the Master of Kung Fu: Bleeding Black one-shot (1990) and the MAX miniseries Master of Kung Fu: Hellfire Apocalypse (2002) with artist Paul Gulacy on art again. The character had two stories in the anthology series Marvel Comics Presents, including one by Moench that ran in the series' first eight issues in 1988, and co-starred in the Moon Knight Special (1992). In 1997 a story arc starring Shang-Chi ran in Journey into Mystery #514-516, and was intended to lead into a miniseries for the character in 1998.
Although spun out of licensed properties, Shang-Chi is a Marvel-owned character and has been firmly established as a part of the Marvel Universe with guest appearances in numerous other titles, such as Marvel Team-Up, Marvel Knights and X-Men. Most of the original, licensed characters in the supporting cast have been phased out in the more recent series and stories.
In some of his modern appearances, mention is made of his villainous father either in cryptic terms or using a variety of new names, due to Marvel no longer having the rights to Fu Manchu. In Secret Avengers #6-10, writer Ed Brubaker officially sidestepped the entire issue via a storyline where a rogue group of S.H.I.E.L.D agents resurrect a zombified version of Fu Manchu only to discover that "Fu Manchu" was only an alias; that Shang-Chi's father was really Zheng Zu, an ancient Chinese sorcerer who discovered the secret to immortality.
Shang-Chi was born in the Hu'nan province of the People's Republic of China, and is the son of Fu Manchu, the Chinese mastermind who has repeatedly attempted world conquest and had a thirst for blood. Shang-Chi was raised and trained in the martial arts by his father and his instructors. He was sent on a mission to murder Dr. Petrie, but he met Fu Manchu's archenemy, Sir Denis Nayland Smith and learned that Fu Manchu was evil and rebelled against his father. Shang-Chi battled Midnight, and then first met his close ally Black Jack Tarr. Shangi-Chi became an ally of Sir Denis Nayland Smith, and opposed Fu Manchu, and battled the Si-Fan assassins.
As a secret agent, he encountered the Man-Thing, and first met the superhero Spider-Man. Shang-Chi then first met his friend Clive Reston. Shang-Chi battled the Shadow-Stalker and Fu Manchu's phansigar followers, and rescued Dr. Petrie from Fu Manchu. He then first opposed his half-sister, Fah Lo Suee. He opposed Carlton Velcro, and first battled Razor Fist and Pavane. Shang-Chi then first met his love Leiko Wu. He opposed Mordillo and Brynocki. He first encountered the Cat, then first met Iron Fist, and next first battled Shockwave. Following another battle against Fu Manchu, Shang-Chi quit MI-6.
As an adventurer, he teamed with Iron Fist, the White Tiger and the Jack of Hearts against the Corporation. He then first met the Thing and battled HYDRA. He became involved in a game between Doctor Doom and the Prime Mover. He first battled Skullcrusher, and then first battled Zaran the Weapons Master. Shang-Chi then teamed with Spider-Man, the Black Widow, and Nick Fury against Viper, Boomerang, and Silver Samurai. Shang-Chi opposed Fu Manchu and Fah Lo Suee once again. With Smith, Tarr, Reston, and Wu, he formed Freelance Restorations, Ltd, which was based in Stormhaven Castle, Scotland. Shang-Chi finally witnessed the death of Fu Manchu. He then teamed with Rom against the Dire Wraiths. Not long after his father's death, Shang-Chi quit Freelance Restorations, forsook his life as an adventurer, and retired to a village in remote Yang-Tin, China, to live as a fisherman.
Some time later, Shang-Chi returned from China and rejoined Tarr, Reston and Wu. They battled Argus' terroristic group, formed to cause the United States to act more aggressively against all terrorists. In order to gain information, Argus had Wu tortured, cutting off her left hand as a message. She was rescued by Shang-Chi and the others, but not before he suffered a dose of a slow-acting poison. Before the poison could kill him, he was cured of the its effects by Fu Manchu's elixir vitae.
As a member of the restored Heroes for Hire, Shang-Chi had put his strength of character at the service of their teammates. Humbug, turning against the heroes, tries to double cross both his friends and the "Earth Hive" of insects, joining the Hive, and offering Colleen Wing and Tarantula to a lifetime of tortures. Even so, when a dying Humbug begs his friend to mercy kill him, Shang-Chi refuses, until he finds that Humbug actually had no qualms to torture Tarantula, if it meant less suffering for Colleen. Shang-Chi then snaps his neck and leaves with the catatonic Tarantula, ashamed of what he believed he had to become, a soulless murderer.
Still working for MI6, he goes on to collaborate with Pete Wisdom of MI-13 in facing the Welsh dragon, which had turned amnesiac and become a human crimelord. Shang-Chi had been told by Wisdom that the dragon (being inherently noble) would go free once it remembered its true origins, and was embittered to find this had been a lie. He became the tutor of a young Earth-616 Killraven.
In the Shadowland storyline, Shang-Chi is one of the heroes fighting the Hand's ninjas. He later works together with Spider-Man against Mister Negative and temporarily takes Mister Negative's powers until Shang is being brought back to normal by Spider-Man.
In Secret Avengers, Steve Rogers tracks Shang-Chi down to help turn back the Shadow Council, which has resurrected Shang-Chi's father, Zheng Zu, and employed the Hai-Dai, a squad of assassins, to hunt Shang-Chi down.
When the Illuminati were exposed to have tampered with the mind of Captain America and attempting to destroy worlds threatening Earth as part of the Incursions as seen in the Time Runs Out storyline, Shang-Chi joined a faction of the Avengers led by Sunspot. Sunspot's Avengers, having taken control over A.I.M., discovered that "Incursion points" (points where an Incursion world that is about to hit Earth can be seen) were causing a massive number of physical mutations among those who stumbled upon the locations. Sending Shang-Chi to an incursion point in Japan, Shang-Chi was exposed to cosmic-level radiation that transformed Shang-Chi into a mutate capable of creating duplicates of himself.
During the Secret Empire storyline, Shang-Chi was found to have been a prisoner of HYDRA in Madripoor following HYDRA's takeover of the United States. After Hive and Gorgon are defeated, the Tony Stark A.I. finds him and he states that he does not have the Cosmic Cube shard anymore. A flashback revealed that Emma Frost took the Cosmic Cube shard from him when he was unconscious. Shang-Chi was later seen with the Underground when they and other superheroes are fighting HYDRA's forces in Washington DC.
Although it has never been determined exactly how extensive Shang-Chi's fighting skills are, he has beaten numerous superhuman opponents. Shang-Chi is classed as an athlete but he is one of the best non-superhumans in martial arts and has dedicated much of his life to the art, being referred to by some as the greatest empty-handed fighter and practitioner of kung fu alive. Much of his physical abilities seem to stem from his mastery of chi, which often allows him to surpass physical limitations of normal athletes. He has also demonstrated the ability to dodge bullets from machine guns and sniper rifles, and is able to deflect gunshots with his bracers. Shang-Chi is also highly trained in the arts of concentration and meditation, and is an expert in various hand weapons including swords, staves, kali sticks, nunchaku, and shuriken.
Following exposure to the cosmic radiation from the Incursions, Shang-Chi was able to create an unlimited number of duplicates of himself.
Shang-Chi never realizes his father's evil doings before his death at Magneto's hands. This causes him to become consumed with a desire for vengeance. In this reality, Shang-Chi is the head of the Dragons criminal organization, alongside Colleen Wing, Swordsman, Mantis, Zaran and Machete. The Dragons later resolved their rivalry against Luke Cage's gang, but were eventually captured in a trap created by both the Kingpin's assassins and Thunderbird's agents. The Dragons and the Wolfpack were freed by Luke Cage, in which Shang-Chi's gang join the Avengers in their battle against the Brotherhood.
In this simian version of the Marvel Universe, Shang-Chi and his father work as a subversive organization, trying to get the local sentients to work in peace and not in animalistic domination. The Avengers (Ape-vengers) murder him for this 'weak-minded' sentiment.
In the Marvel Zombies continuity, Shang-Chi is turned into a zombie during a multi-hero effort to rescue surviving civilians. In a mid-Manhattan battle, detailed in Ultimate Fantastic Four #23, he and dozens of other zombie-heroes attempt to consume the last batch of humans. These humans are defended by that universe's Magneto and the Ultimate Fantastic Four. During a successful rescue attempt, Thing sends Shang-Chi flying through the air with one punch. Shang-Chi is then seen attacking Magneto once again, but he is cut in half by the Master of Magnetism. A different Shang-Chi appears in Marvel Zombies Return in an alternate universe where he is unaffected by the zombie outbreak. The zombie Wolverine finds him in an underground fight club, engaging with other infamous martial artists. The flesh-hungry mutant slashes him to death.
In the Ultimate Marvel universe, Shang-Chi first appeared in Ultimate Marvel Team-Up #15. He is the son of an international crime lord. Trained from birth to become a living weapon, he became the world's greatest martial artist. A noble spirit, he eventually came to renounce his father's empire. Seeking to get away from his father's reach, he emigrated to New York where he worked as a floor sweeper at Wu's Fish Market in Chinatown. Feeling that the denizens of New York's Chinatown needed someone to protect them, he and his friend Danny Rand were drawn into the gang war between the Kingpin and Hammerhead after the latter targeted him to win over the Chinatown gangs to his cause. The conflict climaxed when Shang-Chi, Danny Rand, Spider-Man, Black Cat, Moon Knight and Elektra ambushed Hammerhead's penthouse, where a battle royale ensued. It ended with an unconscious Elektra, Hammerhead and Moon Knight. The gang members were then arrested by the police.
The martial arts warrior disguised himself as a costumed criminal in order to take down the Kingpin. The Kingpin discovered his plan and threatened to kill the hero, but he was rescued by Daredevil, who then recruited him as a part of his team to take down the Kingpin. After the Kingpin's identity is leaked to the New York Police Department, Shang-Chi and the team disbanded and went their separate ways.
In 2006, Shang-Chi was chosen as one of the many properties in Marvel Studios' new film deal with Paramount Pictures, along with Captain America, Nick Fury, Doctor Strange, Hawkeye, Power Pack, Black Panther and Cloak and Dagger.
Capitalizing on the popularity of martial arts movies, writer Steve Englehart and artist/co-plotter Jim Starlin created Marvel's Master of Kung Fu series. The title character, Shang-Chi, was the son of novelist Sax Rohmer's criminal mastermind Dr. Fu Manchu.
Written by Len Wein with art by Ross Andru, this story saw Shang-Chi and Spidey being manipulated into mistaking each other for an enemy.