Master of Kung Fu #17
Issue(s): Master of Kung Fu #17
With this issue, Special Marvel Edition is transformed into a title for Shang-Chi. The wordy full title on the cover is The Hands of Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu, as it will be for the entire series. Of course, that is an improvement over than "Special Marvel Edition Featuring The Hands of Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu".
This issue introduces Black Jack Tarr, who will be a regular member of the supporting cast, but as you can see from the cover, he was presented here as a giant monster of an enemy for Shang-Chi. The reason is that Shang-Chi is still wanted for the death of Petrie in Special Marvel Edition #15, which the master of kung-fu really was responsible for, but it was while he was still being misled by his father's lies. Black Jack is an old associate of Nayland Smith.
Shang-Chi is lured to Black Jack's "murder mansion" in America, which is full of traps and animated knight statues.
After fighting through all of that and a fight with Black Jack himself...
...Shang-Chi confronts Smith. Shang-Chi originally sought out Smith because he wanted advice on whether or not he should turn himself in, but that instead turns into a conversation where Shang-Chi convinces Smith that he isn't really crippled.
A big differentiators for this series is the first person narration. It's done through narration boxes, not word balloons. This lends to a sparser script - although not as sparse as it could be; this will get better under Doug Moench - and since it's in Shang-Chi's serene voice, a decidedly different tone than the typical bombastic Stan Lee imitation in most other books at this time. Add to that Jim Starlin's art, and you've got a decent book.
Starlin was a martial arts enthusiast but you can see from the fight sequences that he doesn't attempt to depict the actual flow of the martial arts moves from one panel to the next.
This will get some minor complaints from martial arts fans in upcoming lettercols. It does seem somewhat important if you're going to do a martial arts book, although it's not unusual for super-hero books to not be quite that specific.
Shang-Chi is assaulted by some drug addicts at the beginning of this issue who sure look a lot like Jim Starlin, Steve Englehart, and Al Milgrom.
We do get a look in on Fu Manchu as well, with him is the Sumo wrestler Tak that Shang-Chi fought in his first appearance with him; he's a minor repeat character.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Much as I HATE modifying material for reprints, at this point I wish Marvel would just go ahead and re-letter some of the dialogue so all the Sax Rhomer characters are renamed. Hopefully that would be enough of a loophole to allow for this series to be reprinted because it really deserves to be. Again, I'm all for fidelity, but they already drew blankets over all the boobies in ESSENTIAL DRACULA, so that ship has sailed...
Posted by: Jay Patrick | August 23, 2013 3:20 PM
Tak appears in this issue.
Posted by: Michael | January 25, 2015 3:55 PM
Thanks, Michael. Listed him and added a scan.
Posted by: fnord12 | January 25, 2015 4:08 PM
"Jack Tar", I just learned, is a nickname for members of the British or USA Navies.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | August 4, 2015 12:07 AM
In the MoKF omnibus, Steve Engelhart says the middle drug addict is himself.
Posted by: Andrew | October 9, 2016 8:00 PM
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