Thursday, January 07, 2016

I guess putting two passive, reactive characters against each other is one way to go.

I've said it before, but in the Marvel Universe, go to Florida, and you're gonna run into Man-Thing. Why should Shang-Chi be any different? From 1974, Master of Kung Fu #19, "Retreat" Written by Steve Englehart, art by Paul Gulacy, inks by Al Milgrom.

I've usually preferred Man-Thing as a guest-star than the lead: the mindless muck-monster is inherently reactive, not really showing a lot of initiative in his stories. Interestingly enough, I'm not sure Shang-Chi does either, since he doesn't ever seem to have a lot of choices, but agonizes over them constantly. This month, Shang is on the run in the Florida Everglades, from a pair of his father's assassins. Already tired and drugged, Shang tries to avoid the fight until they catch up to him, at which point he beats them into a bayou with a log. But he is unprepared to run into the Man-Thing. In this case, somewhat literally: Shang collides with and is engulfed by him, then pulled out by the passing Lu Sun.

Lu Sun seems a nice enough fellow, although I'm curious exactly what an Asian wise man was doing out in the middle of the Everglades in the middle of the night. Seriously, I just had to look it up, and he apparently only appears this issue! (Although, not the issue pictured there.) I almost wonder if Shang wasn't more drugged than he let on, and only imagined him. Shang could've passed through Man-Thing himself, and although Lu Sun is hit in the leg by two arrows when the assassins catch up, they don't really acknowledge Lu Sun...

The Man-Thing happens back along and "whosoever knows fear--burns at the Man-Thing's touch!" The assassins are incinerated, and as the Man-Thing lurches back into the swamp, Shang-Chi is left wondering if he isn't a mindless destroyer himself. Which is a little harsh, Shang.


Dale Bagwell said...

Was Shang-Chi always a whiner like this or just during this period when Englehart wrote him? Seems like the whole thing was just written as an excuse to have Man-Thing show up....and do nothing except save Shang's ass I guess.

SallyP said...

Shang Chi does seem to angst a lot. I would actually love to see a book where he and Man-Thing just sit down and look at the sunset and drink some tea together or something.