Friday, 19 September 2014

Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #2 - Marvel Comics

DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG FU No. 2, August 2014
Still uncomfortable with the sudden, simple and seemingly ‘pointless’ murder of such a major supporting cast member as Leiko Wu in his first outing as this title's writer, I found myself utterly horrified at Mark Benson’s backstory to the Chinese-British MI-6 agent's dismemberment in this second issue of “Deadly Hands of Kung Fu”.

Shang Chi’s former love interest, though not always faithful to the martial artist, at least seemed torn when facing moral dilemmas, and felt guilty when her conscience indicated she had erred. In "No More Warnings" however, all that motivational depth built up during the Bronze Age of Comics has been erased with Leiko Wu apparently being nothing more than a basic thieving killing machine for Chao Sina a.k.a. Skull Crusher; a long-time opponent of Shang Chi. Indeed to add salt to the wound, she had even become the assassin’s lover, and had betrayed all of MI6’s secrets to the criminal gang leader upon joining his clan.

Upon hearing this nonsensical narrative, the son of Fu Manchu simply walks away commenting that such “ridiculous lies” are “vulgarities”. I quite agree and feel that Mike Benson just has absolutely no idea of the history to this comic’s characters or how to write for them.

Unfortunately the artwork of both Dave Johnson and Tan Eng Huat does little to help this edition either. The gaudy and garishly coloured cover by The Reverend, so impressive on the previous issue, would appear to be little more than a homage to the motion picture poster art of the Austin Powers film “Goldmember” and in my opinion that is not a good thing.

Huat’s rendition of Skull Crusher is also a severe disappointment. Instead of the mercenary’s infamous metal spheres attached to chains and powerful armoured physique, the Malaysian artist portrays Doug Moench and Jim Craig's co-creation as a small, somewhat timid-looking smartly dressed Chinese businessman. True, when they first meet, the man who had once sworn to end Shang-Chi's life, is depicted hurling a fist full of ninja stars in the Master of Kung Fu's general direction and then swiftly adopts a powerful Kung Fu stance as if in readiness for battle. But Benson's writing then quickly has him joyfully throwing a handful of loose change to a gaggle of young children and offering his former-nemesis "two chrysanthemum teas with wolfberry..."

Fortunately the issue’s climactic battle between Razorfist and Shang Chi is very competently drawn and also well-coloured by Jesus Aburtov. Indeed coupled with the surprise appearance of the Daughters of the Dragon, Misty Knight and Colleen Wing, both former supporting cast members in “Power-Man and Iron Fist”, and their subsequent battle with the Shadow Ghosts, the impressive artwork creates a great conclusion to this book.
Writer: Mike Benson, Pencils: Tan Eng Huat, Inks: Craig Yeung, and Colors: Jesus Aburtov

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