|MASTER OF KUNG FU No. 2, August 2015|
In many ways “Master’s Son” could be viewed as being worringly similar in narrative to a typical episode of the 1972 American martial arts television series “Kung Fu”, as the comic’s entire storyline seems to focus upon the titular character’s desire to elude a confrontation with his people’s oppressive authorities. However whereas the ABC drama’s hero tried to avoid conflict and violence as a result of his spiritual training and genuine desire for a peaceful life, Haden Blackman’s incarnation of Shang-Chi shuns oppression and adversity because he’s a drunken coward. In fact all “the disgraced son of Emperor Zheng Zu” wants to do is “drink away his pain in anonymity.”
Such a disagreeable, dishonourable depiction of Jim Starlin’s co-creation is difficult to like, especially when so clearly able a fighter simply stands by and allows one of his teenage rescuers to be bloodily gutted by the maniacal Laughing Skull. Indeed there really isn’t much to admire about the unshaven, unkempt alcoholic at all, as he first soundly bests all of the Outcasts who saved him from his father’s thugs, whilst mocking each one for being “slow and sloppy”, and then destroys any hope which they had for a ‘better brighter (Battle)world’ by graphically telling them how he would torture, main and finally execute them all if he were to do the Emperor’s bidding.
As a result when the expert in “nine of Zheng Zu’s legendary ten techniques” does finally admit his fears, decides he must compete for the throne in the thirteen chambers and therefore begrudgingly asks his ‘surviving students’ to “take me as your Master”, it is hard to feel anything more than revulsion for this prospective saviour of K’un Lun.
Unfortunately the vast majority of the Writer’s Guild of America Award-winner’s supporting cast are equally as unlikable, with supposed “honourable protector of K’un Lun”, the Iron Fist Rand K’ai proving to be as much of a despicable ruffian as the rest of his Emperor’s minions. Even the one-eyed Outcast leader Callisto shows her true colours by betraying the location of her teammates’ secret hideaway to Zheng Zu’s entourage in order to obtain “acceptance into the ten rings.”
Fortunately Dalibor Talajic does occasionally bring some enjoyment to the proceedings with his well-animated fight sequences and his interesting re-imaginings of classic “Marvel Worldwide” villains, such as a vagabond Bullseye and severely chastised Razor Fist. However the quality of the Croatian artist’s illustrations lack consistency and at times appear a little too stiff-looking and anatomically awkward.
|Writer: Haden Blackman, Penciler: Dalibor Talajic, and Inker: Goran Sudzuka|