|DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG FU No. 4, October 2014|
I must confess that I finished this particular issue of “Deadly Hands of Kung Fu” still completely oblivious to the fact that it actually marks the end of a four-issue mini-series. As a result I experienced some rather mixed feelings about how the ‘Midnight Sun decapitates numerous clan leaders’ storyline pans out. On the one hand I was still enjoying the misconception that this was just the start of a regular Shang-Chi title with hopefully a long run of issues ahead of it, but on the other, absolute horror at what writer Mike Benson was doing to my beloved martial artist and his supporting cast; as he was literally killing them.
Now I always felt that “Master of Kung Fu” worked best when the stories were solidly set in the ‘real world’ and the Son of Fu Manchu fought men of flesh and blood. Up until this point, Benson’s writing has pretty much followed a similar vein; albeit he has badly mishandled a number of notable characters. However “Out of the Past” probably injects more ‘hocus pocus’ into the world of Shang-Chi than I have ever read, including the extra-terrestrial nonsense Doug Moench conjured up for the 1980 multi-issue serial “Warriors of the Golden Dawn”.
For a start the American writer has Leiko Wu return from the dead having pulled herself out from the Afterlife via a vast pool of blood, and imbues her with “the dark power of Mao Shan”; presumably screenwriter’s short-hand for she can unfasten Shang-Chi’s manacles with just a hand gesture and manifest energy ‘constructs’ straight out of a “Green Lantern” comic. Next Benson stages a battle inside a travelling London double decker bus which is straight out of the “Universal Pictures” 2001 film “The Mummy Returns”. Before finally settling upon the notion that a good old-fashioned fist-fight between Shang-Chi and his brother, Midnight Sun, might make a good conclusion. To be fair all these plot threads coming together does generate a seriously action-packed comic, with Kung Fu kicks and deadly throwing blades 'fizzing' all over the place.
Unfortunately though this is all poorly illustrated by Tan Eng Huat, whose pencils lack any real consistency from panel to panel, or even a solid understanding of human anatomy for that matter. Jesus Aburtov’s colors don’t help matters much either, with all the proceedings seemingly having a metallic shiny edge to them even when the Malaysian artist is depicting events outside during the night.
As a result it came as something of a relief when I did discover this book was actually the end of just a mini-series, as it means Shang-Chi is now once again safe from the warped imagination of Mike Benson and the artistic talents (such as they are) of Tan Eng Huat, Craig Yeung (inks) and Jesus Aburton.
|Writer: Mike Benson, Pencils: Tan Eng Huat, Inks: Craig Yeung, and Colors: Jesus Aburtov|