With Shi-Hua, Shang-Chi’s sister also known as Sister Hammer, taking control of the Five Weapons Society, Shang-Chi has been forced to combat his family legacy once again. Things have become even more complicated as Shang-Chi has been infected by a Jiangshi and is now slowly turning into one of them. With Shi-Hua getting ready to make the world know what kind of power that the Five Weapons Society has Shang-Chi is running out of time in overcoming this latest life challenge. Let’s see how things go next with Shang-Chi #4
Writer: Gene Luen Yang
Artists: Dike Ruan and Philip Tan
Colorist: Sebastian Cheng
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: At the Henan Province in China, Shang-Chi along with Takeshi (Brother Sabre) and Esme (Sister Dagger) find a cave that they’ve been informed is the tomb for Zheng Yi. When they make it inside Shang-Chi, Takeshi, and Esme are attacked by the tomb’s guardian.
Outside The House of the Deadly Staff, which is located near London, the MI-5 commander ignores Leiko Wu warnings about attacking Sister Hammer. This leads to all MI-5 being killed by Sister Hammer’s traps.
Back inside Zheng Yi’s tomb Esme and Takeshi tell Shang-Chi to go further inside to find Zheng Yi’s grave while they deal with the tomb’s guardian.
Shang-Chi runs further into the tomb and meets the spirit his Uncle Zheng Yi. Shang-Chi tells his uncle about what is going on, including how he has been infected by a Jianshi. Shang-Chi admits that he wants to be freed of his family legacy and experience the world. Hearing his nephew’s words Zheng Yi decides to tell Shang-Chi a story.
Zheng Yi tells Shang-Chi about the war the Five Weapons Society took part in to help the Chinese rebels fight off other nations in the 1800s. Baron Harkness, who was working for the invading nations, used his connection to Dormammu to wipe out the entire Five Weapons Society with the use of Mindless Ones.
In one fight Zheng Yi was hit by a deadly strike by one of the Mindless Ones. As he was dying Zheng Yi the Eye of the Dragon to transfer all his power to his brother, much to Zheng Zu’s chargin.
Shang-Chi can’t believe this as Zheng Zu had always boasted about killing and stealing Zheng Yi’s power. Zheng Yi reveals that Zheng Zu created that lie so others would fear him. Zheng Yi tells his nephew the reason he retold this story is so Shang-Chi can realize that he needs his brothers and sisters to balance each other out so neither of them go down the wrong path like Zheng Zu did after his passing.
Near the entrance to the tomb Takeshi is shown a vision of a dark future where Shang-Chi has been corrupted by the tomb’s guardian. Shang-Chi shows up to back up his brother and sister. With Shang-Chi, Esme, and Takeshi combining their skills they quickly defeat the tomb’s guardian.
As the three prepare to go to The House of the Deadly Staff, Takeshi is shown staring at Shang-Chi like he is planning to do something after the dark vision he was given. End of issue.
The Good: Keeping up the momentum of the previous three issues Shang-Chi #4 delivers an enjoyable continuation of how Gene Luen Yang is building out the mythology around Shang-Chi. This issue does a good job at making the big revelation we get about Shang-Chi’s family history work to expand on the concept around the Five Weapons Society.
Gene Luen Yang does a very good job everything we learned in the first three issues of this Shang-Chi mini-series to make the big reveal by Zheng Yi be as impactful as possible. Rather than treating the revelation about the truth behind how Zheng Zu absorbed his brother’s powers as a last minute twist it all came across as a natural progression of the story. The reason it worked so well is because Yang has Zheng Yi use the story to open Shang-Chi’s eyes to why he needs to be in his brothers and sisters lives, and vice versa. Without Zheng Yi around Zheng Zu didn’t have that other perspective he trusted to keep him from falling to the worst parts of his character.
This all leads to spotlighting the importance of what Shang-Chi needs to come to terms within this arc he is in. Because while does desire to freely live in the world that does not mean he can just exist without any sort of responsibilities. His uncle’s story shows this as Shang-Chi does need to stop just wandering around and grow up to accept that he has a family around him. Having a family means that he should know when to lean on them and when to be there to help them out.
Which further brings up how Shang-Chi and Shi-Hua are two different extremes of not having each other in their lives to balance one another out. Just like with their father, Zheng Zu, when Zheng Yi died the way he did, we are seeing how Shi-Hua is letting all of the darkest parts of her personality guide her decisions. At the same time, Shang-Chi’s wandering, free spirit has led him to not fully accept the responsibility that comes with being in the Five Weapons Society.
While the story in this series has been focused on Shang-Chi and Shi-Hua, Yang has done a good job keeping both Takeshi and Esme as key parts of this story. The familial relationship that Takeshi and Esme have grown to have with Shang-Chi makes you care more about what they will be doing in this story. This led to the final moments with Takeshi giving Shang-Chi an odd look after the dark vision he got create a question as to what role he will play in the ending for this Five Weapons Society story. He could very much be a wild card that throws everything out of order.
Dike Ruan and Philip Tan continue to work well together as they provide a consistent look to what Shang-Chi #4 is about. They both make the best out of the portions of Shang-Chi they are given to drawn. Ruan handling the present day and Tan working on the flashback worked well to further show how different the two time periods we see in this issue to be. The action in each of these timelines had their own unique energy that made the most of the combatants we see in those scenes.
The Bad: The one part of Shang-Chi #4 that did not work was the involvement of Leiko Wu and MI-5 have in this issue. The quick scene they have added nothing to the developments in the story we are seeing play out. It was just felt that it was there to remind us that Leiko is involved in this story. Outside of that this scene was just filler content.
Overall: Gene Luen Yang continues to excel with how he has been expanding on the mythology around Shang-Chi’s character. The developments in Shang-Chi #4 provide greater interest in the past, present and future of the Five Weapons Society. The stage is now set for the finale of this mini-series to show why this should be just the start of exploring the world around Shang-Chi.
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