17th Sep2021

eBuying Comics: Week 64

by Ian Wells

In 1973 Marvel latched onto the Bruce Lee, Kung Fu craze and launched the character of Shang Chi into high octane kung fu action in the pages of their comics. Now it is my turn to latch onto the latest craze and talk all things Master of Kung Fu. Firstly I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I am delighted to see it performing so strongly. Everything I have heard has been all positive. With it being only the third Marvel movie since Endgame (the first with a new character) the vultures we undoubtedly circling. Movie goers are always waiting for the MCU movie that breaks the camals back, particuarly when they cross over into new genres. A lot of the positive talk focuses on how fresh it feels. When you consider it is the first ‘origin’ story since Captain Marvel which feels a life time ago now. To pull if something fresh is a massive achievment. In the latter half of the ‘Infinity Saga’ critics were quick to point to paint by numbers ‘origin’ stories. So while Shang Chi and The Legends of The 10 Rings doesn’t reflect the comics I fell in love with nearly five years ago now, I am still looking forward to seeing it soon. This week I will be looking at 10 Shang Chi related comics. Five for the speculators and five hidden gem good reads.

the obvious place to start is with Special Marvel Edition #15 and #16. These are the two that have been going up in value ever since Shang Chi was first rumoured to be joining the MCU. When I started my MAster of Kung Fu collection even at half of what they are now they were still out of my price range. They are currently valued at £156 and £138. Of course currently eBay prices are over inflated. With the movie I have to accept I will probably never own them. Hopefully the new interest will bring a range of more affordable reprints to the market. These two issues are by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin, as well as introducing Shang Chi it is also the first appearance of Denis Layland Smith, Dr Petrie, Fu Manchu and the Si Fan ninja cult. I have seen some sites credit #15 as the first comics appearance of Fu Manchu when in fact it is just his first Marvel appearance, having been used in Golden Age issues of Detective Comics. Marvel acquired the rights to him through a deal with Sax Rohmer a deal which has since expired. So in modern Shang Chi comics his father is never named. With all the baggage that comes with Fu Manchu he is being left well alone for the movie. While everything in the trailers looks amazing it would be interesting from a comics fan point of view to see how greatly the story deviates. On the flip side of these two issues there Shang Chis origin was also told in #1 and #2 of the black and white magazine sized Deadly Hands of Kung Fu. These magazines were aimed at a more mature audience than the mainstream comics, so again it would be good to see how greatly the origin story changes for the different format, if at all. While issues of Deadly are cheaper, they are harder to track down. Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #2 also marks Shang Chi’s first cover appearance in the series 33 issue run and with a modest value of £27 it is worth seeking out for the die hard fan. The most succint, to the point and cheapest version of Shang Chi’s origin you can find is in Action Force #17. This series was part of Marvel UK and it was for reprints of the GI Joe comics. In 1987 they started running Master of Kung Fu reprints as well so in #17 there is a four page introduction to the character narrated by Quick Kick of GI Joe. What makes this little back up even cooler is that it is by Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell who would go on to have massive success together with Invisibles. It is valued at £2.30 but I paid £3 recently for a copy including P+P. Lastly on the origin side of things we have Master of Kung Fu #17. I always have a little joke with myself that when Shang Chi was first announced as joining the MCU the untrained specualtors would frantically be lookig for Shang Chi #1 on the cheap. Then upon discovering his comic series was title Master of Kung Fu they would be looking for #1 unware that the series just took the numbering over from Special Marvel Edition. At £34 it seems much more obtainable than the two Special Edition issues. eBay listings are at nearly double this. With some even at triple. If you want to read it rather than collect it there are some good deals at lower grades of course. I have seen a lot of listings for #15,#16 and #17 as sets between £400-£600 in the months leading up to the movies release. 

I thought it would be fun to throw some curve ball issues into the mix just for variety. First up we have Master of Kung Fu #19. Still with Englehart on writing duties he is joined for the second time on art by Paul Gulacy. This issue has the cool factor of our hero facing another of Marvel heroes. The muck encrusted mockery of a man, The Man-Thing. I as yet don’t own this issue, but it just screams fun. It is polls apart from the issues I do have in my collection already. With the movie featuring an array of unique creatures I thought this issue would be worth mention. It can’t be too long before Marvel does something again with Man-Thing. With a current value of £26 snap this issue up if genre mash ups are your thing! Next up from 2018 is Domino #4. This issue totally escaped my radar and now I am looking to recify that as Domino is one of my favourite female characters. Penned by the always popular Gail Simone with art by David Baldeon I’m sure it won’t dissapoint and I reckon it will be easier and as cheap to track it down in TPB.

Turning the focus back towards the movie slightly there are two issues that will garner some attention. Like I said I have only seen the trailer but I think it is safe to assume Razor Fist is joining the ranks of fun MCU antagonists. In the comics there have been three incarnations of Razor Fist, all debuting within the pages of MAster of Kung Fu. I believe the movie version is based on none of them which explains why the price of Master of Kung Fu #29 is yet to sky rocket. A value of £57 seems a still for a potential key villain issue and I can report current eBay listings are in and around this price point, with a few exceptions. The debut of the 2nd Razor Fist in Master of Kung Fu #105 has a mich cooler cover, is cheaper and is a fun read! Writer Doug Moench and artist Paul Gulacy first teamed togther on #25 and proceeded to shape the adventures of Shang Chi into a brilliant blend of kung fu action, espionage, the pupls and golden age cinema. A big part of their ongoing story was the romance between Shang Chi and Leiko Wu. I find it surprising that Leiko Wu has no part to play in the movie. Who doesn’t love a good love story? Also she is a strong willed character, perfect for the diversity of the MCU. Her not being present in the movie though means there is plenty of time to snap up her first comics appearance before the sequel! Master of Kung Fu #33 is the issue you want and it comes in at around £11 in the current market.

One Shang Chi comic I have read and can highly, highly reccomend is the 1990 oneshot Master of Kung Fu: Bleeding Black. Don’t let the publication date put you off, this is not your typical 90’s comic. Doug Moench returns to writing duties and the story sees all the classic Master of Kung Fu elements return as well. I’m talking Jack Tarr, Clive Reston, Leiko Wu, Denis Nayland and Fu Manchu’s elixir. It is a fun read with a mystery at the centre of it that keeps you guessing from page to page. The fact the story is a race against time plays well into the oneshot format and you will be fully satisifed by the end. Oh did I mention the villain has maces for hands! When I picked this issue up a few years back I didn’t have any idea what it was as I hadn’t fully formed my Master of Kung Fu checklist but it was a great addition to the mythology. Unfortunately on eBay currently it is listed for a lot more than its value of £2.30. Eye catchingly though if you have some moeny to drop there are ccouple of Dan Day original pages from this issue currently listed for sale!

Right now I have to go see the movie!


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