Review: ‘Shang-Chi’ #2 Mixes Things Up With Captain America

by Tony Thornley

When the inaugural arc of Shang-Chi was announced as “Shang-Chi Vs The Marvel Universe,” an image of a fairly formulaic story came to mind. With Shang-Chi #2, it’s clear that impression is not only wrong, but also that this will be the story to cement Shang-Chi as an A-lister prior to his upcoming film.

Cover by Leinil Yu & Sunny Gho

This is the sort of story that every character trying to make their mark as a solo lead needs. It’s smart work and a hell of a lot of fun from Gene Luen Yang, Dike Ruan, Triona Farrell, and Travis Lanham.

A Cosmic Cube has hit the black market and Shang-Chi is determined to use the Five Weapons to take it out of hostile hands. He’s not the only one trying obtain it, however, with everything from MODOK to the Hand trying to outbid them in the auction house of Iron Fan. Thankfully, Shang-Chi has a star-spangled ace in the hole.

Yang writes a very fun espionage story. The script felt inspired by the casino scene from the Black Panther film as well as several different Bond films. The conflict was tense and the action was inventive. Another point I really enjoyed is how Yang is filling out the supporting cast, giving the various members of the family rich backstories that make them feel fully fleshed out, whether we’ve seen one page of it or not. Only two issues in and this story is already well on its way towards establishing Shang-Chi as a major player in the Marvel Universe.

Ruan is growing quickly as one of the most enjoyable artists working at the Big Two. His smooth rounded style is an amalgam of Marvel House style, a little bit of manga, and a lot of cinematic kung-fu. His Shang-Chi is suave, and moves through the issue like a big cat — beautiful to look at, but absolutely dangerous. Where Yang invented some interesting new opponents, Ruan makes them come to life with layouts that jump off the page as Shang and Iron Fan duke it out. Farrell’s colors add depth and makes Macau come to life.

This is a great entry point for anyone unfamiliar with the character and a good place to see a C-lister become a star.

Shang-Chi #2 is available now from Marvel Comics.

Overview

Inventive story. Killer art. A star making turn for a C-list character. This is a book you need to pick up.

Overall
8/10
8/10
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