I really wanted to like Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #1, by Mike Benson and Tan Eng Huat. After all, what’s not to like about Shang-Chi? He’s cut from a similar cloth to Bruce Lee. He has no superpowers, yet he demonstrates total mastery over the martial arts.
Shang held his own title for nearly 100 issues from 1974 to 1983 in the late, lamented Master of Kung Fu series. Capitalizing on the martial arts craze in the 1970s, Master of Kung Fu combined martial arts mayhem with espionage and over the top villains.
While those thematic elements are present in Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, what’s missing completely is Shang-Chi. Oh, he’s physically there (more on that in a bit), but he’s very much out of character here.