The Legend of Shang-Chi #1 Review

by Charles Martin on February 03, 2021

The Legend of Shang-Chi #1 Review
Writer: Alyssa Wong
Artist: Andie Tong
Colourist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Publisher: Marvel Comics

This Shang-Chi one-shot gets down to business with admirable speed. We start with one page to introduce him and his British spy-pal, Leiko. She takes one page to establish the set-up. And then it's straight into the caper.

The caper in question? The British Museum has acquired a katana with the alleged power to steal souls. And the power has proven to be more than just mythical; the sword's already put one guard into a coma.

So Leiko wants Shang-Chi to steal it before it can be sold to more nefarious parties.

What starts as a museum heist turns into a big fight because a particular nefarious party is already a few minutes ahead of Shang-Chi on the "steal the sword" mission.

I think I can review this comic without revealing the antagonist -- which is both a good and a bad thing.

(If you want to read the issue on a truly blank slate, steer clear of the promotional blurb; it's not as nice as I am about spoilers.)

This is a really good premise for a self-contained superhero comic. It would work with practically any villain -- and with practically any hero, which is where the negative side comes in.

It's a good fight comic, but not a particularly good Shang-Chi comic. He's on display as an awesome fighter, of course, and he's snappy with his banter: The turning point of the issue sees him delivering a notably memorable one-liner.

On the visual side of things, Andie Tong does a meticulous job of blocking out the fight panels. The character anatomy is flawless and there's some excellent detail work on the costumes. The combat could be more dynamic, though, and the settings are easy to forget.

Rachelle Rosenberg provides strong colours to bolster the art. The heist/fight takes place at night, allowing for lots of well-done shadow work. Ms. Rosenberg's colours are particularly good at shading flesh and bringing it into the third dimension.

Alyssa Wong's script is just fine. As noted above, it includes one epic line for Shang-Chi, and the rest of the dialogue feels natural enough. The pace is really good, starting brisk and then accelerating into the action without getting confusing. Even though this is almost an all-fight comic, Ms. Wong manipulates the action over time and creates a running battle that doesn't get tiresome.

What's missing from this mix is a distinctive sense of who Shang-Chi is and what makes him special. If you're already a fan, you know the character and can appreciate this little side-quest. But a stranger to Shang-Chi -- say, somebody looking to familiarize herself in advance of his upcoming movie -- won't glean much from this issue besides the fact that Shang-Chi does kung fu real good.

Legend of Shang-Chi is a good fight comic. It's a strong premise executed with skill; this will make a fine portfolio piece for all of the creators. But it is neither a good introduction to Shang-Chi nor a particularly memorable adventure for him. Die-hard completionists will have to read it, and they won't be disappointed, but more casual fans can safely give this issue a pass.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
When ya think about it, this villain would need awesome fingerless gloves. Mr. Tong sure delivers!