Giant-Size Spider-Man #2
Issue(s): Giant-Size Spider-Man #2
Before we get to the Master of Kung Fu, Spider-Man first has to fight some lower rent martial artists.
You'd think that would be a breeze for him, but for some reason Spider-Man has a difficult time against the guy with nunchucks.
But Spider-Man does recover and defeat all the bad guys. And when he interrogates them, they claim to be working for Shang-Chi.
And when Spider-Man turns to leave, the goons are all electrocuted. Pretty brutal for a Code book.
It is, of course, Fu Manchu, not Shang-Chi, who is responsible for all of this.
He's setting up a fight between Spider-Man and Shang-Chi so that he can engage in his own schemes uninterrupted. And he's not taking any chances; in addition to sending Spider-Man after Shang-Chi, he's priming Shang-Chi to attack Spidey on sight, too. In an awesome way, by sending out your Friendly Racist Spider-Goons.
Both sets of goons direct the heroes to a power plant near the 59th Street Bridge (presumably so Len Wein can make a Simon and Garfunkel reference, which he does). So that's where Spider-Man and Shang-Chi fight it out.
The two heroes seem pretty evenly matched at first...
...although Spider-Man's array of powers do give him the upper hand.
His banter also serves to keep Shang-Chi distracted, even though Shang-Chi surmises that that is its purpose.
But even all that isn't enough for Spider-Man to easily win the fight. This is actually where i like my Spider-Man. Spider-Man's power levels should technically make him Avengers level: he's got significant super-strength, and a spider-sense that theoretically should allow him to dodge any blow. But i think he works better as a street level hero who generally fights bank robbers and can even have temporary trouble with a guy who is good with nunchucks. Shang-Chi's speed and training should allow him to circumvent some of Spidey's spider-sense, and Spidey's strength isn't that useful against a guy that can dodge his blows or turn that strength against him. It's also worth remembering that Fu Manchu chose Shang-Chi's mother for her genetic potential, and that may mean that Shang-Chi is "peak human" like Captain America, or even more depending on what mad science Fu Manchu inflicted on him.
Anyway, despite Shang-Chi's continued perseverance, Spider-Man does retain the upper hand, and it's him that eventually figured out that they've been set up and risks his life to stop the fight.
It's a cool fight, in my opinion.
They are then tipped off by one of Sir Denis Nayland Smith's agents that Fu Manchu is planning something at the Empire State Building, so they head there together. They fight their way through a horde of martial artists...
...and disrupt Fu Manchu's plans with some help from Black Jack Tarr.
Fu Manchu, however, manages to escape. Spider-Man was actually unaware who he had been fighting, and has trouble believing that Fu Manchu is a real person.
The fact that the Misunderstanding Fight between Shang-Chi and Spider-Man is deliberately contrived by a master schemer villain (and by using the awesome Spider-Goons, who need to make a comeback) helps mitigate some of the normal formulaic problems with the Marvel Team-Up format, and i think the fight between Spider-Man and Shang-Chi is really good. So this issue is a lot of fun. I think Marvel was deliberately careful with this issue due to the fact that bringing Spider-Man into the world of Shang-Chi was risky for the tone of the Master of Kung Fu book, but Len Wein pulls it off and Ross Andru did well in delivering a carefully depicted fight.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Fu Manchu says that the events of Daredevil #112 (see References) happened "yesterday". The MCP has this between Amazing Spider-Man #133-134 and Master of Kung Fu #21-22.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showBlack Jack Tarr, Fu Manchu, Shang-Chi, Sir Denis Nayland Smith, Spider-Man, Tak
Maybe this is the (retitled)story promised at the end of Giant-Size Super-Heroes #1?
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 25, 2015 1:29 PM
I'm willing to accept Peter having trouble with Shang-Chi because Shang is borderline superhuman. But I agree with Roger Stern that Peter had trouble with losers without powers like the Tarantula too often in the '70's. Just two issues later, in Giant-Size Spider-Man 4, Peter has trouble with Moses Magnum, who at the time was apparently intended to be a "normal" 54 year old man. And Wein would later have Peter get humiliated by people that made no sense- he got knocked out by getting pistol-whipped by some ordinary goons in Amazing Spider-Man 162 and later on in issue 170, he would have trouble with Dr. Faustus, a fat man who was never shown exceptional combat skills.
Posted by: Michael | January 25, 2015 1:57 PM
And Marv Wolfman was even worse in that respect; I actually dropped Spider-Man for a while back then because of him.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 25, 2015 2:15 PM
This got reprinted in an Essential volume, despite the fact that Marvel no longer has the Fu Manchu license, and has not had for several years. Either the Sax Rohmer estate(or what's left of it) isn't paying attention to anything besides prose fiction, or else it just doesn't care.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 26, 2015 11:02 AM
I'm anxiously awaiting the next installments of the Marvel Masterworks of Marvel Team-Up, but the licensing issues will be incredible. In order to cover my favorite issues, they'll need the rights to Fu Manchu, Doc Savage, and Red Sonja, who was sorely missed from the paperback of the Claremont/Byrne run they printed a few years back. I can live with it if they skip the Saturday Night Live issue.
Are the rights easier to get for the Essentials, I wonder? Besides Fu Manchu, they did Godzilla a while back, and Conan before that.
Posted by: Andrew | March 3, 2015 12:19 PM
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