Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu in a definitive issue-by-issue collecting guide and trade reading order via omnibus, hardcover, and trade paperback collections. Find every issue and appearance! Part of Crushing Krisis’s Crushing Comics. Last updated February 2017 with titles scheduled for release through June 2017.
Who is Shang-Chi? To figure out the answer, we need to travel back in time over 40 years to 1974.
Similar to Marvel 70s horror titles Tomb of Dracula and Werewolf by Night that emerged in 1972, Master of Kung Fu (MoKF) both featured a major non-Marvel character and was built to serve a public craze.
In this case, the craze was the titular Kung Fu. It was blowing up in the summer of 1973 thanks to a culmination of factors including the television show Kung Fu, a number of successful movies imported from China’s booming cinema, and one man: Bruce Lee.
Marvel wanted to license the popular Kung Fu to take advantage of the nationwide interest in martial arts (which also yielded Iron Fist), but they failed to obtain the rights. Instead, they turned to another pre-existing mythology: the story behind villain Fu Manchu, a fictional criminal mastermind who coined the mustache of the same name. He was created by author Sax Rohmer in 1912 in a serialized novel, The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu.
Fu Manchu was popular enough to merit an initial trilogy of serialized books in the 1910s and even more starting in the 1930s, plus a number of film adaptions ranging from 1929 to 1980. The character can be a controversial one – even in the 1930s he was seen as a racist caricature representing the “Yellow Peril” of an East-Asian threat to the wider, whiter world.
Enter Marvel Comics. They licensed the Fu Manchu universe from Rohmer’s estate, which was mostly focused on film adaptations in the 60s after Rohmer’s death and final book in 1959.
Instead of keeping it isolated in its own continuity, they created Shang-Chi as a part of the Marvel Universe and made him the son of Fu Manchu! What used to be Special Marvel Edition introduced Shang-Chi and then quickly made him the headliner of the book, swapping the title to Master of Kung Fu with issue #17.
Unlike Dracula, who has always been in the public domain in the US and who entered that status in the 1960s in Britain, Fu Manchu has remained the intellectual property of the Rohmer estate. While all Dracula stories are fair game to tell, print, and reprint, Fu Manchu requires a licensing agreement to use.
At some point after MoKF ended in 1983, Marvel let their rights to the Fu Manchu universe lapse. While they still retained Shang Chi and brought him back in 1988, they could no longer name his villainous father in print. Further, Marvel could not reproduce or reprint those Fu Manchu stories in print and digital collections until reaching a new arrangement with the Rohmer estate in 2015.
- Master of Kung Fu & Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu (1974- 1983)
- Guest Star (1988 – 1999)
- Marvel Knights & MAX (2000 – 2002)
- Hero for Hire (2006 – 2008)
- Dark Reign & The Heroic Age (2009 – 2012)
- Marvel Now (2012 – 2015)
- All-New, All Different Marvel (2015 – present)
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Early Shang Chi
All of these flashbacks occur prior to Shang Chi’s debut in Special Marvel Edition #15, where he learns the truth about his father.
- Marvel Comics Presents (1988) #158 (4th story)
- Special Marvel Edition (1971) #16
- Master Of Kung Fu (1974) #19 (single panel) & #64
- Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu (1974) #6 (2nd story), 1, 5, & 11
The Master of Kung Fu series remains well-regarded by fans due to the pedigree of its creators. It was written almost entirely by Doug Moench (creator of Moon Knight) for 100 issues and includes a 30-issue run of pencils by Mike Zeck (you know him as the artist of original Secret Wars). That places MoKF alongside some of the other most notable single-creator runs of the period (like Uncanny X-Men) when it comes to the strength and coherence of the ongoing plot.
Though Master of Kung Fu was Shang Chi’s main series in this period, he also appeared regularly in the Deadly Hands of Kung Fu magazine, a black and white magazine launched the same month as his title. DHoKF featured martial arts editorial content with B&W backups from a laundry-list of martial arts characters characters like Shang-Chi, Daughters of the Dragon, Iron Fist, and White Tiger (debut in #19).
Both titles are treated as his primary appearances here, denoted by MoKF and DHoKF, respectively. These two series are being collected comprehensively in a six omnibus set by Marvel in 2016 and 2017.
Shang-Chi, Master of Kung-Fu (1974) Omnibus, Vol .1
Special Marvel Edition #15-16, Master Of Kung Fu (1974) #17-37, Giant-size Master Of Kung Fu #1-4, Giant-size Spider-man #2, and material from Iron Man Annual #4
Shang-Chi, Master of Kung-Fu (1974) Omnibus, Vol. 2
Master Of Kung Fu (1974) #38-70 and Annual 1
Shang-Chi, Master of Kung-Fu (1974) Omnibus, Vol. 3
Master of Kung Fu (1974) #71-101 and What If? (1977) #16
Shang-Chi, Master of Kung-Fu (1974) Omnibus, Vol. 4
Awaiting solicitation. Master of Kung Fu (1974) #102-125, plus potential additional material
Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu (1974) Omnibus, Vol. 1
Deadly Hands of Kung Fu (1974) #1-18 & Special #1
Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu (1974) Omnibus, Vol. 2
Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu (1974) #19-33 and material From Bizarre Adventures (1981) #25
To show how Shang-Chi’s story crosses between those books, I’ve arranged them them in a threaded format below with the corresponding Omnibuses abbreviated as MoKF and DHoKF. Some of this material has been nominally reprinted elsewhere – the few times that is of significance I’ve noted it.
Special Marvel Edition (1971) #15-16: In MoKF Vol. 1
Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu (1974) #2 & 3 (2nd story): In DHoKF Vol. 1
Master of Kung Fu (1974) #17-21: In MoKF Vol. 1
Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu (1974) Special 1, 4-9 & 11: In DHoKF Vol. 1. Only in 2nd story from #6
Giant-Size Master Of Kung Fu (1974) #1 & Giant-Size Spider-Man (1974) #2: In MoKF Vol. 1. Also, see Spider-Man.
Master of Kung Fu (1974) #22-27, Giant-Size #2-3, 28-35: In MoKF Vol. 1
Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu (1974) #12-18: In DHoKF Vol. 1
Master of Kung Fu (1974) #36-37 & Giant-Size #4: In MoKF Vol. 1
Master of Kung Fu (1974) #38-42 & Annual 1: In MoKF Vol. 2
Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu (1974) #29, 31-33: In DHoKF Vol. 2. Shang-Chi is only in 2nd story from #32.
Master of Kung Fu (1974) #43-52, 59-60, 54-58: In MoKF Vol. 2
After #52: Marvel Two-In-One (1974) #29
After #58: Thor (1966) #271
Master of Kung Fu (1974) #64, 61-63, 65-70: In MoKF Vol. 2
Master of Kung Fu (1974) #71-101: In MoKF Vol. 3
After #75: Marvel Team-Up (1972) #84-85
Master of Kung Fu (1975) #102-125: In MoKF Vol. 4
After #121: Rom, Spaceknight (1979) #38-39, Captain America #302 (although the appearance is a flashback to an earlier time)
Unplaced in this period: Wolverine: First Class (2008) #9, Action Force (1987) #17 (likely not in continuity, since it includes licensed characters)
Collectors are hoping these stories will be included in the 4th Master of Kung-Fu Omnibus, due to the continuity of Moench as author of the first pair and the likely lack of future collection for the second pair.
Marvel Comics Presents (1988) #1-8 (3rd stories): Not collected
Master Of Kung Fu: Bleeding Black (1991): Not collected. This was intended to be another Marvel Comics Present story.
After Bleeding Black: Marc Spector: Moon Knight Special Edition (1992), Captain America (1968) #412-414, Daredevil (1964) #Annual 10
Marvel Comics Presents (1988) #156-158 (4th stories): Not collected
After MCP #158: Incredible Hulk Vol. 2 (1968) #434, X-Men Vol. 2 (1991) #62-64, Elektra (1996) #9-10
Journey Into Mystery (1952) #514-516: Not collected. Shang Chi takes over this title for three issues.
After JiM #516: Elektra (1996) #16
Heroes For Hire (1997) #18-19: Shang Chi is a featured character in these stories. See Luke Cage.
Marvel Knights (2000) #1-15: Not collected
After Marvel Knights: a flashback in Black Widow: Deadly Origin (2010) #4, Thunderbolts (1997) #57-58 (behind the scenes in #58)
Shang-Chi: Master Of Kung Fu MAX (2002) #1-6: The Hellfire Apocalypse
This was written by Doug Moench.
This series is notable for being the first time Shang Chi has been a part of a team interacting with stories core to the main thread of the Marvel Universe. This is an enjoyable series collecting a number of street-level and martial arts characters.
First: a flashback in Great Lakes Avengers (2005) #2, Black Panther Vol. 4 (2005) #11
After HfH #1: Black Panther Vol. 4 (2005) #18
Heroes For Hire Vol. 2 (2006) #6-10: Vol. 2: Ahead of the Curve
During HfH #9: Wisdom (2007) #3 & 6
After HfH #15: Amazing Spider-Man Extra (2008) #1 (3rd story)
First in this era: Daredevil #113, The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #587 (check guide)
Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu One-Shot (B&W) (2009) #1: Not collected
Black Widow: Deadly Origin (2010) #4 – Flashback material addressed above.
Shadowland: See Marvel Universe Events. Shang Chi appears in #2 and #3
Before #2: Shadowland: Power Man (2010) #1-2
During #2: implied in Daredevil (1964) #509
After #3: Shadowland: Spider-Man (2010) #1, Shadowland: After the Fall (2011) #1
After Shadowland: The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #654.1
Fear Itself: See Marvel Universe Events. Shang-Chi appears only in in Fear Itself (2011) #3 and epilogue series Fear Itself: The Fearless (2011) #2-3
Spider-Island: See Marvel Universe Events. Shang-Chi appears very prominently throughout this event and it’s tie-ins, including his own 3-issue series – Spider-Island: Dead Hands of Kung-Fu! It has never been collected on its own; all series are wrapped up in a pair of Spider-Island collections.
Shang Chi’s approximate chronology in this event: The Amazing Spider-Man: Infested (2011) #1, Free Comic Book Day 2011 (Spider-Man) (2011) #1, The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #664, Spider Island Daily Bugle (2011) #1, The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #666-668, Spider-Island: Deadly Hands of Kung Fu (2011) #1-3, Spider-Island: The Avengers (2011) #1
After Spider-Island: The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #672-673
Secret Avengers (2010) #18: Vol. 3: Run the Mission, Don’t Get Seen, Save the World
Shang-Chi is a featured hero in this issue in a spectacular run by Warren Ellis. This volume collects #16-21. Available in hardcover.
Shang-Chi also appears in the following issues in this period: Wolverine: First Class (2008) #9 (this fits into earlier continuity and is listed above) and Heroic Age: Heroes (2010) #1
Shang-Chi appears in the out-of-continuity Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe (2012) #4
Shang Chi got a major profile boost in Marvel Now, becoming a featured player in the first half of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers, the star of one of three stories in sideline series Avengers World, and star of his own mini-series for the first time in over a decade.
Avengers (2013) #1-3, 6-7, 9, 11, 14-17: See Avengers & New Avengers
After #3: The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #695
Avengers #18-20 & 22-23: See Avengers & New Avengers
These issues are part of Infinity.
Infinity: See Marvel Universe Events. Shang Chi appears in Infinity (2013) #1-3 & 6.
Shang Chi’s approximate chronology during this event: Avengers (2013) #18, Avengers Assemble (2012) #18, Captain Marvel (2012) #15, Infinity (2013) #2, Avengers (2013) #19, Infinity (2013) #3, Captain Marvel (2012) #16, Avengers Assemble (2012) #19, Avengers (2013) #20 & 22-23, Infinity (2013) #6
After Infinity: Avengers Assemble (2012) #24-25, Avengers (2013) #24
Secret Avengers (2013) #12-15: See Secret Avengers
Shang-Chi is a featured team member in these stories.
After Secret: Wolverine (2014) #8-9
Avengers World (2014) #1, 3, 5, 7, 10, 13-14: See Avengers & New Avengers
This supporting Avengers title was established to tell the earth-bound, non-incursion-related adventures of the Avengers team while Hickman’s main title continued to handle the plot leading to Secret Wars.
After Avengers World #14: Thunderbolts (2013) #31
Avengers (2013) #26 & Annual 01: See Avengers & New Avengers
This placement of Annual 1 is not confirmed.
Deadly Hands of Kung Fu (2014) #1-4: Out of the Past
Also includes stories from Deadly Hands of Kung Fu (1974) #1 & 32-33
After DHoKF: Captain America (2013) #25, S.H.I.E.L.D. (2015) #1 (cameo), Guardians Team-Up (2015) #1 (cameo)
Avengers: Time Runs Out: See Avengers & New Avengers
Shang-Chi appears in Avengers World (2014) #20, Avengers (2013) #38-39, New Avengers (2013) #28, Avengers 43-44.
Secret Wars: See Marvel Universe Events. Due to the nature of this event, appearances are not in-continuity. Shang Chi appears briefly in Free Comic Book Day 2015 (Secret Wars) (2015) and #1. He also has his own four-issue series, Master of Kung Fu (2015), and he appears in Ultimate End (2015) #4-5.
Shang-Chi also appears in the following out-of-continuity issues in this period: What If? Age of Ultron (2014) #3, What If? Infinity X-Men (2015) #1