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Subj: Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #1 - Safe Ground.
Posted: Sat May 17, 2014 at 09:19:48 am EDT (Viewed 101 times)
Reply Subj: What is MUST READ this week?
Posted: Tue May 13, 2014 at 05:01:10 pm EDT (Viewed 304 times)
Although welcome, the question arising from the commissioning of this four part series focusing on Marvel's veteran oriental hero is not so much "Why so long?" as "Why now?". Could the decision to use the 'Deadly Hands of Kung Fu' titling be an excuse to refresh trademark perhaps..?
Because when using the 'Deadly Hands' moniker the publisher is automatically inviting comparison and expectations to the titles most well known usage - the original seminal 1970s title featuring the extraordinary work of creators Doug Moench, Mike Zeck, Paul Gulacy and Rudy Nebres.
The character of Shang-Chi was born out something of a fad, the explosion into cinemas of Bruce Lee and the resulting interest in the Martial arts and eastern philosophy, naturally as time moved on attitudes changed and the world moved on, but does that original concept and the philosophy it promotes still not have some legitimate worth to it? Could Shang-Chi still be used as a vehicle to promote thought as well as action...?
With an impressive renaissance in terms of similar streetfighter characters I had some hopes that this new Shang-Chi series could recapture some of the old magic and take inspiration from the likes of Hawkeye, Moon Knight, and Green Arrow. All titles that have rethought the techniques of storytelling and invented all new methods to reinvigorate the genre. With Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #1 though is an immediate sense of directly from the seminal filmwork of Bruce Lee, fans of Enter the Dragon will see the first minutes of that film played out in these first four pages, while the following four are an equally familiar take off off any secret agent film you care to name - a chase in the snowy Rockies with a snowcycling Shang crashing the escaping helicopter carrying Captain America's old foe Crossbones... so eight pages in it is already apparent to the reader that nothing fresh or innovative going on here. And things don't get anymore novel when we learn that the woman meeting a nasty end in the opening pages is Shang's old friend/lover...
Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #1 was a disappointment, that's all I can say. One of the problems apart from the clichÃ© level and lack of ideas is that this book not only read as old fashioned it looked old fashioned. Artist Tan En Huat is a perfectly capable talent, the problem being that his choice in using traditional page and panel layouts for the book is one that is both a poor tribute to the esteemed work of predecessors Gulacy and Zeck, and on the other archaic and out of touch with what is going on in today's comics. Artists like David Aja, Andrea Sorrentino, and Paolo Rivera have helped to redefine the language of storytelling on such characters and the readers expectation has shifted accordingly. Reading the book as it is presented therefore added to the unambitiousness of the whole enterprise.
There IS a place for Shang-Chi. He's a great character with incredible potential. But it does strike me that writing for an Asian/Chinese character as specialised as this is something that gives many writers difficulties, there seems to be a hesitancy in how to capture both their culture and their place in the world. Shang is longsince settled in the West but naturally holds his heritage as equally important as his presentday, quite what that means to such a man seems to be something writers approaching him struggle to capture.
Despite rigid page layouts and stiff action Tan En Huat does deliver competent work. The two silent pages as Shang attends to Leiko's funeral are particularly effective. But the action sequences lack the kineticism of vintage Shang-Chi and are a poor realisation for one famously dubbed as being the Master of Kung-Fu.
The finishing overview to this book is one of a safe, rather generic, middle-of-the-road production. Deadly Hands of Kung Fu isn't terrible, but in a marketplace that has moved on from the days of conventional panel layouts and clichÃ© plots Mike Benson and Tan En Huat's Deadly Hands of Kung Fu is one that quickly leaves the memory. It lacks any distinctive features. I therefore may pick up the next issue, and I may not...
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