The MCU’s latest film, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, has hit theatres. Here in North America, it has already shattered the all-time Labor Day weekend record, making $71.4 Million! To celebrate, let us take a look back at the original 1st appearance of Marvel’s Master of Kung-Fu.
Shang-Chi’s first appearance dates back to December of 1973, a mere four months following the death of the man responsible for the massive influx of martial arts into American pop culture, Bruce Lee. Shang-Chi’s first story was told in Special Marvel Edition #15, written by Steve Englehart and drawn by Jim Starlin. The issue introduced Shang-Chi as the son of Fu Manchu, who was an established villain created by English novelist Sax Rohmer. Marvel had acquired the comic book rights of the pulp villain, after previously failing to obtain the rights to the television show Kung-Fu. Marvel eventually lost the rights to Fu Manchu as well, and ended up later changing his name to Zheng Zu.
Shang Chi served his father loyally, and was sent on a secret mission to England in order to assassinate Dr. Petrie, whom Fu Manchu falsely said was “the most evil man alive.” Shang-Chi trusted his father’s words, yet was hesitant to take another man’s life, especially after he discovered that Petrie was a bed-ridden elderly man. Despite this, Shang-Chi reluctantly completed his mission. However, he was confronted afterwards by a former British intelligence officer, Sir Denis Nayland Smith, who was a friend of Dr. Petrie. Sir Denis told Shang-Chi the truth, that his father was an evil man who had committed unspeakable deeds in the pursuit of immortality.
Unable to bear the revelation of his father’s evil history, Shang-Chi sought out his mother, who confirmed the truth. She revealed that though she never loved Fu Manchu, she hungered for his power, and hoped to transfer it to a child of her own. Shang-Chi left to confront his father, and fought through a wave of his loyal bodyguards. He discovered his laboratory, which only solidified the truth that his father was never who he claimed to be.
After finally confronting him personally, Shang-Chi accused his father of having gone mad, but left without physical conflict. Fu Manchu told his son that he may leave in peace for the moment, but that next time he would direct all the evils at his disposal towards Shang-Chi’s doom.