Shang-Chi is getting a new series from Marvel this June, written by acclaimed cartoonist Gene Luen Yang with art by Dike Ruan and Phillip Tan. And that’s pretty welcome news.
Marvel’s “Master of Kung Fu” is finally getting his own MCU film next year, starring Simu Liu, Tony Leung and Awkafina. But the comics character has had a lot of ups and downs. over the years. The original series from the 70s and 80s was launched in the wake of the “kung fu” craze of that era. It’s loved by old timer comics fans (like The Beat) but rightly condemned as problematic for its many stereotypes, including main villain Fu Manchu, one of the worst “Yellow Peril” villains of all time.
But as announced in The New York Times, National Book Award nominee Yang is excited to be taking on the character.
“I mean, it’s Shang-Chi. He’s probably the most prominent Asian — I guess he’s Asian-American now since he’s moved over here — Asian-American super hero.”
It’s Yang’s first work for Maarvel and he’ll be joined by artists Ruan (Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man) and Tan (Black Order). Ruan will draw the modern day part of the story and Tan will handle flashbacks. Plus Shang-Chi will have a new costume designed by Jim Cheung.
In this new series, Shang-Chi’s fight for justice will collide with his past. When the hero finds himself pulled back into the fold, no one will be ready for what will be unleashed. With a target on his back after the revitalization of his father’s secret society, the balance of power will shift in an epic tale of succession, family, and betrayal.
“The basic idea that his father is a supervillain is still there,” said Yang. “Zheng Zhu has been around a very long time. He has other kids besides Shang-Chi, so we’re going to explore some of those sibling relationships.”
In his Times interview, Yang, whose American Born Chinese was a breakthrough exploration of the Asian-American experience, expanded on how he had avoided Shang-Cho in the past .
But Yang, 46, avoided the character until college. “It’s that same embarrassment I had in third grade,” he said. “There was a second grader who moved here from Taiwan and the teachers really wanted me to be his friend. I felt embarrassed about it and I didn’t know why. It was almost like picking up a Shang-Chi comic would have been highlighting what made me different from the other nerds at the comic book store.”
He says that films like Black Panther show that these characters have a different meaning for today’s audiences, and can be a positive sign of representation. “I just don’t think that kids growing up today, for the most part, have that same sort of embarrassment. I think for a lot of them, it sort of flipped. I think that conversation is changing too for Asian-Americans.”
Shang-Chi #1 hits stands in June.