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 December 2017 with titles scheduled for release through August 2018.
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 as a character, 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.
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- Master of Kung Fu & Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu (1974- 1983, 1988, & 1990)
- Guest Star (1992 – 1999)
- Marvel Knights (2000 – 2001)
- Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu MAX (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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The Master of Kung Fu series remains well-regarded by fans over forty years after its debut due to largely to the pedigree of its creators.
The series 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, a black and white magazine launched the same month as his title. Deadly Hands featured martial arts editorial content with B&W comic backups featuring a laundry-list of martial arts characters like Shang-Chi, Daughters of the Dragon, Iron Fist, and White Tiger (who debuted in #19).
Both titles are treated as Shang-Chi’s primary appearances here, denoted by MoKF and DHoKF, respectively. These two series were collected comprehensively in a six omnibus set by Marvel in 2016 and 2017.
as six oversized hardcover omnibuses…
Shang-Chi, Master of Kung-Fu Omnibus, Vol. 1
Collects 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 Omnibus, Vol. 2
Collects Master Of Kung Fu (1974) #38-70 and Annual 1
Shang-Chi, Master of Kung-Fu Omnibus, Vol. 3
Collects Master of Kung Fu (1974) #71-101 and What If? (1977) #16
Shang-Chi, Master of Kung-Fu Omnibus, Vol. 4
Collects Master of Kung Fu (1974) #102-125, plus Shang-Chi stories from Marvel Comics Presents (1988) #1-8 and Master Of Kung Fu: Bleeding Black (1990) #1
Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu Omnibus, Vol. 1
Collects Deadly Hands of Kung Fu (1974) #1-18 & Special #1
Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu Omnibus, Vol. 2
Collects Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu (1974) #19-33 and material From Bizarre Adventures (1981) #25
as a series of paperback Epic Collections…
Epic Vol. 1: Weapon Of The Soul
This duplicates much of the Special Marvel Edition #15-16, Master Of Kung Fu (1974) #17-28, Giant-Size Master Of Kung Fu #1-4, Giant-Size Spider-Man #2, and material from Iron Man Annual 4.
in chronological order by story…
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.
Shang-Chi all but disappears from comics for five years after the end of his series in 1983, only for his primary author Doug Moench to take up his story again in Marvel Comics Presents in 1988 and in a special one-shot in 1990.
Flashbacks prior to Shang-Chi’s debut in Marvel Comics Presents (1988) #158 (4th story), Special Marvel Edition (1971) #16, Master Of Kung Fu (1974) #19 (single panel) & #64, and Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu (1974) #6 (2nd story), 1, 5, & 11
Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu (1974) #2 & 3 (2nd story): In DHoKF 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.
MoKF #29-35: In MoKF Vol. 1
Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu (1974) #12-18: In DHoKF Vol. 1
MoKF #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.
MoKF #43-52, 59-60, 54-58: In MoKF Vol. 2
After #52: Marvel Two-In-One (1974) #29
After #58: Thor (1966) #271
MoKF #64, 61-63, 65-70: In MoKF Vol. 2
MoKF #71-101: In MoKF Vol. 3
After #75: Marvel Team-Up (1972) #84-85
MoKF #102-125: In MoKF Vol. 4
After #121: ROM, Spaceknight (1979) #38-39, Captain America #302 (although the appearance is a brief flashback from Zaran to MoKF #109)
Marvel Comics Presents (1988) #1-8 (3rd stories): In MoKF Vol. 4
Master Of Kung Fu: Bleeding Black (1991): In MoKF Vol. 4
Unplaced in this period: Wolverine: First Class (2008) #9, Action Force (1987) #17 (likely not in continuity, since it includes licensed characters)
Shang-Chi fell into relative disuse after author Doug Moench ended his lengthy run as plotter, with no other author or team book adopting him. Yet, when he did turn up, it ended to be for a significant arc rather than just a throwaway cameo.
Marc Spector: Moon Knight Special #1 (1992): See Moon Knight. Shang-Chi is co-billed on the cover and is heavily featured through-out the issue.
Captain America (1968) #412-414: See Captain America. Shang-Chi follows a lead on his father’s villainous business concerns on AIM island and winds up mistaking Falcon for an agent! His plot is the C-story here, at best, but we do get to see his first meeting with Captain America!
Daredevil (1964) Annual 10: See Daredevil. Shang-Chi appears on the cover of this issue, and he’s a part of the origin of the new villain it debuts. However, in terms of story, this is not a signifiant one for him.
Marvel Comics Presents (1988) #156-158 (4th stories): Not collected. A solo story written by Karl Bollers with art by Cary Nord.
After MCP #158: A single-panel cameo at a funeral in Incredible Hulk Vol. 2 (1968) #434
X-Men Vol. 2 (1991) #62-64: See X-Men (1991). This brief arc starts as a Shang-Chi solo story that and features his first throw-down with Wolverine before seeing him team up with an all-star X-cast of Logan, Storm, Jean, and Cyclops. He is heavily featured through-out with ongoing internal monologue.
In Elektra (1996) #9-10, Shangi-Chi appears silently on only a pair of sub-plot pages setting up their brief confrontation in issue #16.
Journey Into Mystery (1952) #514-516: Not collected. Shang-Chi takes over this title for three issues during its brief anthology period.
Elektra (1996) #16: See Elektra. This is more of a guest appearance than a featured one.
Heroes For Hire (1997) #18-19: See Luke Cage. Shang-Chi is a guest-star character in this Madripoor story, though he is playing second fiddle to the more-heavily featured Wolverine.
Shang-Chi was a member of this street-level non-team, whose cast is largely reflected by Marvel’s Netflix television characters.
Marvel Knights (2000) #1-15: Marvel Knights: Defenders of the Streets
After Marvel Knights: a flashback in Black Widow: Deadly Origin (2010) #4, a wordless cameo in Thunderbolts (1997) #57 (along with nearly every other Marvel hero, plus he’s implied behind the scenes in #58)
It’s unclear to me if this MAX series is in continuity, as it was around this time that some began to be set outside the Marvel 616 Universe. One point in this series’ favor is that it marked the return of longtime Shang-Chi author Doug Moench!
Shang-Chi: Master Of Kung Fu MAX (2002) #1-6: The Hellfire Apocalypse
Written by Doug Moench.
This series is notable for being the first time Shang-Chi has been a consistent 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 MAX (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, except for the first story, which is in Avengers by Jonathan Hickman Omnibus, Vol. 1
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 in his capacity as an Avenger.
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, and a flashback cameo in Power Man and Iron Fist (2016) #6 to some point in this period.
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 cameos 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
Shang-Chi appears in with a team of other AAPI heroes in Totally Awesome Hulk (2016) #15-17 (see Hulk). He briefly saves the day before unintentionally becoming a villain in a heavily-featured team-up in Iron Fist (2017) #6-7 (see Iron Fist).
Secret Empire: See Marvel Universe Events. He appears in #5-6 & 9 and Captain America (2017) #25
In this period, Shang-Chi makes a non-continuity appearance in Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe Again (2017) #3-4.
Shang-Chi’s legendary Master of Kung-Fu series was revived for a single issue at the start of Marvel Legacy.
Master Of Kung-Fu #126: Marvel Legacy Companion
Collects the full set of Legacy One-Shots – Darkhawk #51, Dazzler #43, Power Pack #63, Master Of Kung-Fu #126, Not Brand Echh #14, Silver Sable And The Wild Pack #36