Master of Kung Fu #29-31
Issue(s): Master of Kung Fu #29, Master of Kung Fu #30, Master of Kung Fu #31
His style has a definite Steranko influence, and that's true of the story as well, which combines the Kung Fu theme with the British spy genre.
With regards to the art, the Steranko influence is less about experimenting with panels and page layouts (although there is some of that)...
...and more about the style of the art itself.
For once, Fu Manchu is not the villain of the piece. Instead, the British special agency goes after Carlton Velcro, a heroin kingpin.
Sir Denis has to take Shang-Chi to a heroin ward to convince him to get involved.
Clive Reston, who again implies that he is descended from Sherlock Holmes ("Great-uncle would probably deem this elementary..."), poses as a heroin buyer to infiltrate Velcro's island while Shang-Chi and Blackjack Tarr sneak in using scuba gear. Reston discovers way more heroin than they were expecting but then he is captured.
Shang-Chi faces the most awesome villain of all... Razorfist.
Razorfist has no hands. Instead he's got big old swords attached to each stump. Razorfist can not scratch his nose. Razorfist can not pee standing up. But Razorfist will destroy you in a kung fu fight.
While Shang-Chi gets into an awesome fight with Razorfist...
...Tarr rescues Reston. However, all three agents are subsequently captured and fed to Velcro's panthers. However, unbeknownst to Velcro, they actually manage to escape the panther pit. They continue to explore Velcro's island and discover an underground area full of troops and military equipment. Velcro's heroin business is just the means to fund his "army of nuclear lions" (not literally nuclear lions; actually, i have no idea what nuclear lions are.).
As Sir Denis and Dr. Petrie call in an airstrike, Shang-Chi rushes to free Razorfist, who he left unconscious and with his blade stuck in a statue. On his way back, however, he runs into another super fighter, the whip wielding dominatrix Pavane.
He manages to beat her, and then Razorfist, having freed himself, shows up for a rematch. But then Velcro arrives with some gunmen, who he orders to fire indiscriminately at Shang-Chi even though Razorfist is in the way. Razorfist dies protesting that he has "been so loyal".
The agents eventually get off the island, and Shang-Chi tries to measure the value of stopping the heroin trade verses the mass death caused by the British bombs.
This is good stuff.
Just for fun:
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showBlack Jack Tarr, Carlton Velcro, Clive Reston, Dr. Petrie, Pavane, Razorfist, Shang-Chi, Sir Denis Nayland Smith
I would assign this a quality rating of "A"- this was some of the best work that Marvel did at the time; and (FWIW) it marked the beginning of what I call the Shang-Chi Arc- the issues between 29 and 50, which -while there were some (few) exceptions- constitute the best arc in the entire series. The story and the- and most importantly, the dialogue and the sentence structure- flowed together in a way that you knew you were reading something truly unique.
Posted by: Robert Barron | July 14, 2011 9:35 PM
Doug Moench admitted in a Comic Book Artist interview that he had no idea how Razor Fist could wipe his ass, either.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 20, 2011 10:20 PM
Ralph Macchio has a letter in #30.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 29, 2013 3:57 PM
This story was reprinted circa '87 in Action Force, the Marvel UK GI Joe title (which later merged with Marvel UK's Transformers).
Posted by: Walter Lawson | December 22, 2013 11:27 PM
An easy A. Moench puts Fu Manchu and Fah Lo Suee on the shelf for over a year to let the series breathe and develop a wider range of characters, Gulacy's action and image-making are superb, and Adkins brings out Gulacy's best. (Dapper Dan was the underrated part of the trio, as the inker usually is. The issues with Abel or Marcos inking Gulacy are fine, but Adkins's blacks make the pencils pop.)
Oh, and then there's Pavane's bikini bottom, which is cut so low you can tell about her grooming habits "down there". Hubba-hubba. (My teenage self thanks you, Paul.)
Posted by: Dan Spector | October 3, 2014 6:48 AM
Shang-Chi's appearances aren't flashback-only in this issue, are they? I notice you haven't tagged the master himself.
Posted by: Mortificator | January 22, 2016 2:45 AM
No he's really here. Thanks Mortificator.
Posted by: fnord12 | January 22, 2016 7:22 AM
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