5 (+3) Essential reads for Marvel’s own Master of Kung Fu


The trailer for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings dropped the other day. I must have watched it ten times already trying to spot all the fun stuff. Simu Liu looks great as the Master of Kung Fu. The wire-fu bits and high paced action, with kick ass graphics that for me blends old school martial arts together with the superhero genre. Check out the trailer below

Conceived way back in 1972, Shang-Chi was created by writer Steve Englehart, and artist Jim Starlin. He first appeared in Special Marvel Edition #15. Shang-Chi was made when Marvel acquired the comic book rights to Sax Rohmer’s pulp villain Dr. Fu Manchu. Many supporting characters were Rohmer creations like Sir Denis Nayland Smith, Dr James Petrie, and Fah Lo Suee. 

Special Marvel Edition #15 1973 first printing original Comic Book 1st  appearance of Shang Chi - $399.95 - PLEASE NOTE: This item is available for  purchase. Click on this title and then "

Appearing in issues 15, 16, and then 17, the series title was changed to The Hands of Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu. And thanks to the martial arts craze in the 70’s the series became a hit. His look changed more Bruce Lee like when artist Paul Gulacy did some work on the Master of Kung Fu series. 

Master of Kung Fu (1974 Marvel) comic books
Cap'n's Comics: Shang Chi (Bruce Lee) by Paul Gulacy

According to his comic book history, Shang Chi is the son of Chinese criminal mastermind Fu Manchu and a white American woman genetically selected by his father. Born in the Honan province, Shang-Chi was trained in martial arts from infancy. Believing his father was a benevolent humanitarian, he went to London to assassinate Dr James Petrie, only to be confronted by his father’s arch-nemesis Dr Denis Nayland Smith who revealed Fu Manchu’s true nature. After confronting his father, he vowed to put an end to his evil schemes, declaring them enemies.  

Over the next forty plus years, Shang-Chi would go on have multiple adventures of his own. Firmly establishing himself in the Marvel Universe, with guest appearances in X-Men, Marvel Knights, Spider-Man, Heroes for Hire among others.

Shang-chi teamed-up with the Secret Avengers. nuff said | Avengers, Marvel  cómics, Marvel
Ultimate Marvel Team-Up #16 - Spider-Man & Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu!  Part Two of Two (Issue)
X-Men 62 | X men, Comics, Marvel comic books
Shang Chi sparring with Captain America | Captain america, Comics, America

While Shang-Chi isn’t superhuman, he has defeated many super powered individuals. Having dedicated his life to martial arts, he is referred to as the greatest hand-to-hand fighter and practitioner of Kung Fu alive. Even Ares, the God of War, has acknowledged him as one the few mortals that can hold their own against a God without magic. 

Who will win in a fight between (Marvel comics) Shang-Chi and (DC comics)  Karate Kid? - Quora

Due to his skills, and extensive knowledge he has trained the likes of Wolverine, Captain America, even helping Spider-Man develop his own style of fighting. 

While originally not having any powers, he has on occasioned gained temporary super powers.

Back in the 1980s Stan Lee considered Brandon Lee for the role of Shang-Chi in a movie or television series.

Shang-Chi is an unlockable character in Marvel Future Fight. 

Let’s get to some reading material.

Master of Kung Fu: Fight without Pity

Written by Doug Moench, Paul Gulacy

Art by Paul Gulacy, Sal Buscema 

Easily one of the most iconic series in Marvel history. Master of Kung Fu blended martial arts with globetrotting espionage. This collection debuts Pavane, Razor-Fist, and the lovely Leiko Wu. Follow Shang-Chi as he dives into mystery, madness, and bone cracking martial arts adventure that will keep you on the edge of your seat, more than a James Bond movie. 

Shang Chi: Brothers & Sisters

Written by Gene Luen Yang

Art by Philip Tan, Dike Ruan, Sebastian Cheng

An ancient evil secret society has remained in hiding since the death of their leader, but now a successor has been chosen to restore the balance. Gene Luen Yang writes an untold story of siblings Shang-Chi never knew he had. But who can he trust, and who’s out to get him? Shang-Chi will learn the hard way as his life depends on it. And the only one who can save him, is his supposedly dead father. Follow Marvel’s greatest fighter as he returns to a world of death and destruction that he thought was in his past. 

Marvel Knights 

Written by Chuck Dixon

Art by Eduardo Barreto, Joe Quesada

Not strictly a Shang-Chi adventure, but a team up of near epic proportions. The Master of Kung Fu joins the Man without Fear, Black Widow, and Dagger, as the heroes start a quest to clean up the mean streets of New York. Their first assignment, catch a mass murdering vigilante long overdue for a trial – The Punisher.

Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu

Written by Doug Moench

Art by Paul Gulacy

From the duo that shot Shang-Chi into the limelight decades ago, comes another adventure of high-octane kung fu espionage. This time under the MAX imprint. While the old series was more Bruce Lee meets James Bond, this story was written for a new age. Hellfire Apocalypse is essentially Jet Li meets Mission Impossible. Get set for another hard-hitting spy thriller with the deadliest hands in the Marvel Universe.

Spider-Island: Deadly Hands of Kung Fu

Spider-Island: Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #1

Written by Anthony Johnston

Art by Sebastian Flumera 

During the events of Spider-Island, where the city is plagued by everyone developing powers like Spider-Man thanks to the Jackal, a separate adventure occurs. In this 3 issue tie-in someone is hunting the Immortal Weapons, Shang-Chi must team up with Iron Fist to track the culprit so that the heroes can deal with the impending spider-pocalypse in Manhattan. One of the rare occurrences where Shang-Chi has superpowers, albeit temporarily, still shows you how dangerous he can be. 

Honorable mentions

Legend of Shang-Chi (2021)

Legend of Shang-Chi #1

Written by Alyssa Wong

Art by Andie Tong

From the wonderful mind of Alyssa Wong comes this brand spanking new series that I hope runs for a long time. Shang Chi needs to find out who is stealing artifacts that have the potential to be WMDs. On his quest to find and stop the perpetrators he comes face to face with Lady Deathstrike. How will the deadly hands of Kung Fu deal with the deadly blades?!

Spider-Man [Free Comic Book Day 2011]

Free Comic Book Day 2011: The Amazing Spider-Man #1

Written by Dan Slott

Art by Humberto Ramos

A Free Comic Book day spectacular from Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos that developed Spider-Fu. The new MADAME WEB can sense a great conflict brewing in SPIDER-MAN’S future and his only hope for survival lies in the hands of SHANG-CHI, THE MASTER OF KUNG FU! Can Spidey gain mastery of the martial arts in time to stop a deadly foe from his past? Watch out, True Believers, because this is the issue that changes up Spider-Man like never before!

Master of Kung Fu #126

A.K.A Shang-Chi’s Day Off

Written by CM Punk (the wrestler)

Art by Dalibor Talajic

A one-shot adventure written by pro-wrestler and former ECW and WWE World Champion CM Punk (Phil Brooks). One of the stranger adventures, Shang-Chi has fought aliens, superhumans, gods, and monsters. But animal adopting ninjas might be a first. What started as a simple day off, turned into another beat down for some half-baked villain bent of some kind of world domination. One man, one ice cream cone, a whole lotta kung fu.