Writer: Mike Benson
Pencils: Tan Eng Huat
Inks: Craig Yeung
Colors: Jesus Aburtov
Summary from Marvel.com: “SHANG-CHI versus THE WHITE DRAGON! Misty Knight and Colleen Wing discover the danger is greater than any of them had feared! Deadly secrets revealed! Kung Fu action unleashed!”
I’ll be honest, while I dig kung fu movies, that’s about as far into being a “fan” of kung fu as I’ve ventured. I’ve only read a handful of issues of the original “Deadly Hands of Kung Fu” series from way back so when I decided to read this limited series I really didn’t have a lot of investment in the character of Shang-Chi. I have totally been won over by it though. This book finds Shang-Chi having tracked down the White Dragon and in pursuing justice for his murdered former-lover he finds out more dark forces are at play here than he could have imagined.
The story has evolved very nicely over these few issues. This one is where we finally reach a big climactic moment and revelations come out that Shang, nor us as the readers, could have seen coming. The only other work by Mike Benson I’ve read is his Luke Cage Noir book, but he definitely has a talent for giving characters who are normally considered second-rate, or B-listers, a rejuvenated interest. The way that he writes Shang-Chi’s focus and discipline as the Master of Kung Fu is very refreshing. As Shang is narrating his fight with the White Dragon’s warriors you genuinely feel his sense of honor as a fighter. He isn’t arrogant or pretentious and I feel like Mike has done the character justice by maintaining those qualities. However, that doesn’t mean the book is tame by any means. There are a few very brutal moments. “Beheadings”, is the term that comes to mind.
The artwork is very well done and clean. There are some nice details and colors, and you can tell that the artists weren’t careless in their work. I especially love the last page. I won’t give away too much, but I’ll say that it’s way more graphic than I anticipated.
I read the issue twice and I just didn’t find anything I felt was “bad”. It’s a very solid read with good art.
The Final Say:
If you’ve been reading the series, you’ll likely agree with most of my assessments. I give this issue a 3 out of 4. It’s well written and illustrated, and doesn’t slow down the momentum generated by the first two issues. If you haven’t read Deadly Hands of Kung Fu yet, I definitely recommend you head to your local comic shop and pick up these first three issues, especially if you’re someone who’s interested in getting into comics but isn’t sure where to start. This series will keep your attention and help you decide if regular weekly/monthly comic reading is for you.