After Shang and his rival, who recently revealed herself to be a woman named Mulan, get transported to a mysterious realm, they must set off to find a way back to settle their score once and for all. They will soon find out that won't be so easy however, as sinister forces plot from the dark to conquer both realms.
Shang returns with a dark twist as Hua Mulan and he are trapped within the Myst and forced to reconcile their differences and work together if they hope to make it back to China alive to stop Daji from enacting her treacherous plans.
The first issue of Shang’s solo series came out swinging by setting up a feudal state of China, exploring the intriguing past of the character then throwing him into a mysterious situation with none other than Mulan herself. It was a great way to kick things off with the longtime mentor as well as bring Mulan into the Zenescope catalog of characters. The second issue doubles down on the interesting dynamics set up between Shang and Mulan, bringing them closer together through a dangerous fight.
There are a lot of great things happening in this issue, from the origins of Daji to the incredible fight with Xiangliu, guardian of the artifacts in the Myst. The dark twist is something that works really well in the series. Ghosts from the violent past coming back to haunt both Shang and Mulan helps to build tension and add depth to the character portrayals while still keeping the pace relatively fast paced. With only 3 issues in the series, you can feel how quickly the story is moving, but luckily it feels well developed and guided by a strong sense of direction.
Neither Shang or Mulan particularly steals the show in this issue, which is both good and bad. The guardian Xiangliu is the visual showstopper that gives the issue a truly worthwhile feel. The fight against this guardian is quite extensive, taking up the majority of the issue itself, but it also sets the stage for both of the weary fighters to take on Daji directly. This rapid development helps to keep readers hooked and ready to see what’s on the next page. Maine and Grostieta pull off some wonderful artwork especially during the action-packed moments while Mangual keeps the lettering tight and consistent. The result is a book that is certainly well executed.
Defeating a giant boss to equip the main characters with the weapons needed to defeat the baddie is something we have seen before in comics, there is no doubt about that. Taking a folklore inspired approach helps to give this story a bit more depth while adding complexity to the characters, and combined with some great art, Shang #2 does just enough to stand apart as something different and worthwhile. Shang is a dynamic character with a lot of storytelling potential, so I’m hoping we get to see more of him in the final issue. Mulan hasn’t gotten quite as much attention, but I can already tell that she could benefit from a solo series as well.
With the third issue set to bring a confrontation of surely deadly proportions, Shang #2 is tasked with doing much of the narrative heavy lifting. Keeping everything simple with a straightforward mission helps to keep things enjoyable and not weighted down by any additional baggage, but we lose some of the significance of Shang’s presence in this issue. It’s a great reluctant buddy action story that uses a darker influence to push the series forward with surprising heart.
Thought tasked with much of the narrative heavy lifting, Shang #2 rapidly pushes the series forward with darker influences in an action-packed story with dynamic artwork.
Shang #2: You Shall Show the Proper Respect
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 9.5/109.5/10
- Art - 9/109/10
- Color - 9/109/10
- Cover Art - 8.5/108.5/10