Review: Kung Fu Goes Cosmic In ‘Shang-Chi’ #4

by Tony Thornley

You wouldn’t think that the worlds of kung fu and super-science would have much crossover in the Marvel Universe.But as Shang-Chi #4 quickly proves, you’d be wrong.

Cover by Leinil Yu

Gene Luen Yang, Dike Ruan, Triona Farrell, and Travis Lanham continue their journey through the Marvel Universe. It’s a fierce fight as Shang-Chi’s growing Five Weapons Society battles the Fantastic Four!

Shang-Chi is having troubling dreams of a woman trapped in his childhood home. It definitely seems to be more than a dream though, as it also seems he’s dreaming of the Negative Zone. And when a hero needs to get to the Negative Zone, there’s only one way to go — through the Baxter Building, home of the Fantastic Four. But the Richards clan may not be so welcoming to Shang-Chi’s newfound family…

I’m continuing to dig this book. It has just the right balance of action, interpersonal drama, and world building. Yang is quietly integrating his leads deeper into the Marvel Universe while also introducing elements that are unique to Shang-Chi and the Five Weapons’ culture. He’s putting in the work, ensuring every character is well-rounded with a deep internal life, and making sure this isn’t just a fights book. With each issue, I’m drawn more and more into the underworld of the Five Weapons, the cultural hallmarks around it, and the difficult morality it embodies.

Ruan continues to grow as an artist with each issue. He makes every bit of action jump off the page — from Shang-Chi’s dream to the fight with the Four. The figure work, especially in the characters’ expressions, feels heavily inspired by Asian comics and illustration, but it is contained within the layout sensibility of Marvel’s house style. They meld together to create one of the most visually distinct comics on the stands right now. 

Farrell’s stepping up with her colors, giving the pages a rich depth. The Negative Zone feels alien and awe-inspiring in a way it doesn’t, usually, thanks to her mix of reds, blues and purples. Lanham also makes sure that the letters pop, varying bubble size and shape for emphasis, and simply making sure that the reading experience is clear and easy to follow.

This series is holding strong nine issues in (including the same creative team’s limited series from last year) and sure feels like the thing Shang-Chi needs to put him on the map permanently as one of Marvel’s A-list. The team is keeping me on the edge of my seat as they jump forward to the next adventure.

Shang-Chi #4 is available now from Marvel Comics.


Shang-Chi and family invade Marvel’s first family in the next great entry for this series. Yang, Ruan and Farrell continue to push the title character into Marvel’s A-list with a character defining run, firmly establishing his place as one of Marvel’s greatest.

%d bloggers like this: