Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely: ‘Shang-Chi And The Ten Rings’ #1 Reviewed

by Tony Thornley

The parable of absolute power is one played across myth, legend and fiction throughout history. With Shang-Chi and The Ten Rings, one of Marvel’s mightiest faces the evil of absolute power, and even his pure heart may not be enough to push it away.

Cover by Dike Ruan & Matthew Wilson

Gene Luen Yang, Marcus To, Erick Arciniega, and Travis Lanham relaunch the legend of Marvel’s kung fu master, and launch the next phase of his journey.

Shang-Chi still holds power over the Five Weapons Society, and now he has the added burden of the ten rings. Their power promises a corrupting influence over any who wields them, and it’s up to Shang-Chi to protect them, and perhaps harness them for good. It’s too bad that the entire might of the Marvel Universe may be barrelling towards him.

This is the most fun that corporate synergy has ever been. Yang takes an obvious corporate… suggestion and crafts it into an incredible fun action-adventure, while also making it extremely important to the plot. This next step in Shang-Chi’s journey promises to be a lot of fun, and I really hope the relaunch is a sign that Marvel is putting its weight behind this character and creative team. Though I fell behind for a few issues, I’m happy to see that this is still one of the most reliably good superhero stories on the stands right now.

I haven’t seen To draw a story with complicated fight choreography like this before, and I was so happy to see how well he executed it. Everything had such a great sense of motion, and for a kung fu master, that’s so important. Shang-Chi was never static on the page, and To laid out the pages to create that sense of motion and momentum.

The minigolf scene in particular was a delight, starting with a superhero putting his powers into getting a hole in one, and ending with Shang using his surroundings to absolutely wreck an opponent. More comics should have minigolf scenes, whether they end in a kung fu fight or not, especially if they’re as good looking as To makes this one.

Arciniega’s colors soften To’s dense line, creating a weight to the figures. It’s very additive to To’s cartoony and bouncy style. He also shifts from natural colors to deep blood-reds as the danger increases within the story, which changes the tone immediately. Lanham adds to the story with his lettering as well, helping the dialogue pop off the page, and bringing the sound effects to life.

This is a story not getting enough eyeballs, and that’s a shame. It’s a reliably great story, and I enjoy every issue.

Shang-Chi and The Ten Rings #1 is available now from Marvel Comics.


The Master of Kung Fu gets a new volume of adventures. It’s an exciting story, great art and one of the best ongoing series in the Marvel Universe.

%d bloggers like this: