Shang Chi: Master of the Ten Rings #1
FATHERS AND SONS
FATHER AND SON, SIDE BY SIDE?! Shang-Chi is lost in time and the only one who can help him is…his father?! What will Shang-Chi do when he meets the younger version of his evil parent? Will he be able to change the course of history? Or will Shang-Chi be shocked to discover he didn’t know his father as well as he thought? Find out as Gene Luen Yang’s Shang-Chi saga comes to its shocking conclusion!
Shang-Chi: Master of the Ten Rings #1 serves as the conclusion to Gene Luen Yang’s fantastic run on Shang-Chi. This series has gone through four retitles and new #1’s over the thirty issue run but through all the confusion, we have finally made it to the end. At the end of the last issue, Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings #12, we saw Shang-Chi finally accept all of the consequences that come with being the holder of the Ten Rings. At the same time, this journey mirrored that of Shang-Chi’s personal struggle to come to terms with his status as the leader of the Five Weapons Society, as well as his acceptance of his murky family lineage. In this final chapter, all of this is put to the test when some of the more radical members of the Five Weapons Society attempt to resurrect Shang-Chi’s late father.
Michael YG overall does a good job with the art; however, the faces seemed to be drawn very inconsistently. When characters are drawn close up, they look fantastic, but panels of multiple characters start to become muddled. YG seems to take a minimalist approach. It’s hard to read the facial expressions in these sections and it becomes increasingly more noticeable as the book goes on. It’s really a shame since the characters look great when they are drawn up close. The characters almost look like they were drawn by a different person with wide shots. It’s this inconsistency that makes it all super noticeable and ultimately detracts from the book when it stands out. YG’s artwork really shines in panels where he draws sprawling landscapes in the background or foreground of the characters. Unfortunately, once again, these are only showcased in very few panels in this issue. A lot of the time, the backgrounds are either blank with some color, or full of computers. It’s a shame that YG wasn’t able to draw these landscapes throughout the entire issue.
Yang concludes his epic in the most satisfactory way possible. This issue pulls from material set up in the first issue of his run and ties everything together with a neat little bow. At the end of the day, this was always a story about family and this issue embraces that with open arms. The meat of this issue is in the interactions between Shang-Chi and his father after Shang is transported back to the 1800s. After reading many issues where the Five Weapons Society are viewed as terrorists, it was a breath of fresh air to revisit their origins where they were simply heroes who were trying to prevent the British from bringing opium into China. The themes in this series have been very cyclical and constantly remind us that our circumstances shape us into who we are. Shang-Chi’s father would not have become the villain he became without going through his life experiences just like Shang-Chi would not become the hero he is without going through the experience of being raised by his father. The important lesson here is that running away from our past is never the answer, instead we need to learn from our prior failures and mistakes and let our pasts shape us into better people.
As the issue and series conclude, Shang-Chi’s future is left open-ended as he now is the master of the Ten Rings, and has a blossoming new relationship with the woman he’s been seeing off and on throughout the series. On top of all this, he is still the leader of the Five Weapons Society and has a newfound family both in this dimension and in Ta Lo.
It will be interesting to see what future writers at Marvel do with these concepts. Shang-Chi, now one of the biggest power players in the Marvel 616, has a lot of potential for the future in whatever stories he shows up in next.
This is the end of an era for Gene Luen Yang, and Shang-Chi will never be the same. This issue was a blast and a near perfect conclusion to the run that began only a few years ago.
SHANG CHI: MASTER OF THE TEN RINGS #1: The Conclusion to Gene Luen Yang’s Run!
- Writing - 10/1010/10
- Storyline - 10/1010/10
- Art - 7/107/10
- Color - 8/108/10
- Cover Art - 8/108/10
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