With the first trailer for the next Marvel Comics movie, Shang-Chi, out already, here’s a look at the first twelve Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu stories.
First, a little background information. In the early 1970s Marvel was experimenting with hybrid titles that would combine the old and the new by fusing licensed properties with unique Marvel twists.
The most famous and longest-lasting example was Shang Chi, Master of Kung Fu. In 1973 Marvel licensed the use of Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu plus other characters from the Fu Manchu tales. Rather than just churn out a Fu Manchu comic book series “the House of Ideas” instead combined it with the Kung Fu craze of the time and created Shang Chi, the son of Fu Manchu.
Shang Chi, as a surrogate Bruce Lee, and Sir Denis Nayland-Smith, as a surrogate Braithwaite from Enter: The Dragon, were the core of the new series. Shang Chi started out as an operative of his evil father Fu Manchu, but realized the error of his ways and threw in with Sir Denis and his team to battle his father’s malevolent schemes.
FOR STORIES TEAMING IRON FIST AND SHANG-CHI CLICK HERE.
SPECIAL MARVEL EDITION #15 (December 1973)
Title: Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu
Villain: Fu Manchu
Synopsis: One night Shang-Chi, the son of the insidious Dr Fu Manchu, penetrates the Mayfair home of his father’s old enemy Dr Petrie and, though he hesitates when he sees how old the sleeping man is, kills him as ordered. A wheelchair-bound Sir Denis Nayland-Smith, Fu Manchu’s archenemy, arrives in the bedroom too late to save his longtime ally Dr Petrie but is holding a gun on Shang-Chi.
Shang effortlessly disarms Sir Denis and turns to leave, only to be amazed at the way Nayland-Smith is weeping over the dead doctor. He engages Denis in a conversation about why the Britisher has opposed his father for so many decades. Shang-Chi is disturbed by the passionate conviction with which Nayland-Smith describes his father’s global activities, activities that Fu has kept hidden from his son.
What really piques our hero’s curiosity is when Sir Denis shows him how Fu Manchu had him abducted recently in Burma and tortured until he could no longer walk, thus confining him to a wheelchair. Conflicted, Shang-Chi goes to Honan, China to visit his mother and question her about his father’s true nature. She informs him that what Nayland-Smith said is true, but she had hoped her son would not learn the truth until he was much older. (Shang was around 18-19 years old as this series started.)
Determined to confront his father about his lies, Shang-Chi fights his way through his father’s international headquarters, decorated in priceless Chinese artwork and other fineries. After overcoming all of the guards barring his way, our hero faces a gorilla that has been biologically mutated by Fu Manchu. Even this creature is overcome.
Fu Manchu now confronts Shang-Chi in person. He explains his worldview and invites his son to join his “Great Work” now that he has made his bones by killing Dr Petrie. Our hero refuses, comparing his father to many other megalomaniacal madmen in history. He tells Fu that when next they meet it will be as implacable foes.
For a nice visual end-bit, Shang emerges from his father’s international headquarters and we readers see that what had seemed to be a stronghold in China is really a skyscraper in New York City, from which Fu has apparently been running his underground empire since the last of the Fu Manchu novels.
SPECIAL MARVEL EDITION #16 (February 1974)
Title: Midnight Brings Dark Death
Villain: Midnight (M’Nai)
Synopsis: One night in Central Park, Shang-Chi defeats a gang of would-be muggers and is congratulated on his fighting form by a figure from the shadows, who then disappears. Our hero recognizes the voice as that of his adopted brother M’Nai, codenamed Midnight by Fu Manchu. The two have not seen each other in years.
Shang recalls Midnight’s origin: As M’Nai, a young African child, he was one of the survivors of an African village whose residents Fu Manchu had been using as human guinea pigs for a biological weapon he was developing. Sir Denis Nayland-Smith and other British Intelligence operatives had raided the area to thwart Fu Manchu, but the villain adopted the hate-filled M’Nai and raised him alongside Shang-Chi. He also had Midnight trained in the martial arts as well.
Elsewhere, Midnight reports to Fu Manchu in his international headquarters skyscraper. Fu orders him to kill Shang-Chi since, unlike M’Nai, Shang has refused to dedicate himself to his father’s plans. Back with our hero, he easily overcomes a cop who tries arresting him since he is wanted internationally for killing Dr Petrie. Midnight slips him a bamboo container which includes a note challenging him to meet him in a duel to the death.
Shang-Chi accepts, of course, and in the wee hours the pair battle across New York city. Midnight uses an arsenal of martial arts weaponry, with Shang improvising nearby objects to counter those weapons. Ultimately, their combat takes them to a skyscraper under construction, where Midnight dies from a broken neck.
NOTE: During the Celestial Madonna Saga over at the Avengers, Midnight was one of the villains that Kang the Conqueror plucked from the time-stream nano-seconds before his death to serve in his Legion of the Unliving. With Kang’s defeat, Midnight and all the other Legion villains were returned to the precise moment of their deaths to die as they were meant to.
MASTER OF KUNG FU #17 (April 1974)
Title: Lair of the Lost
Villain: Black Jack Tarr
NOTE: As of this issue Special Marvel Edition has been renamed Master of Kung Fu with the old numbering being retained. That is why this issue is number 17 even though it is the first official issue of Shang’s own title.
Synopsis: We pick up an unknown amount of time after the previous story. Shang Chi defeats three punks trying to rob him to get money for drugs. Meanwhile, in the town of Rye in Upstate New York, Sir Denis Nayland-Smith consults with one of his agents, a muscular man named Jack Tarr but nicknamed Black Jack Tarr.
Comment: I really like that name and the way it combines two things: a blackjack and a jacktar. It sounds like it very well could have been a character in the original Sax Rohmer novels, but was actually a Marvel Comics invention.
Back to the story, Sir Denis and Black Jack plan to lure our hero to a Rye, New York mansion outfitted with all manner of high-tech booby-traps. They thus hope to capture Shang and arrest him for killing Dr Petrie. Meanwhile, in his skyscraper HQ Fu Manchu reorganizes his global strategies to account for the way his blood son Shang-Chi has left him and his adopted son M’Nai is now dead.
Shang sees a planted newspaper story that international intelligence legend Sir Denis Nayland-Smith is visiting the U.S. and is staying in Rye, NY. Though Denis and his agents assume Shang-Chi will come there to try to kill Nayland-Smith, in reality our hero goes there hoping to personally apologize to Denis for killing Petrie.
Upon arrival at the mansion in Rye, Shang-Chi survives every death-trap and ultimately faces Black Jack Tarr in combat. After a furious battle he defeats the British agent and is once again face to face with Nayland-Smith.
The wheelchair-bound Sir Denis assumes that Shang will now kill him, but instead our hero tells him why he really came and, in a purely hokey comic book development, uses his philosophical arguments to convince Nayland-Smith that he has prematurely surrendered to a fate of being confined to a wheelchair. He coaxes him to believe that if he tries hard enough, he will be able to stand and start his physical rehabilitation process.
Sir Denis, at last persuaded, succeeds in standing up. He wonders if he has misjudged Shang-Chi after all. Our hero departs, telling Nayland-Smith to contemplate his feelings toward him until they meet again.
MASTER OF KUNG FU #18 (June 1974)
Villain: Fu Manchu
NOTE: Artist Paul Gulacy started his long run on this series beginning with this issue. Gulacy was noted for often drawing Shang-Chi to resemble the late Bruce Lee, just as, in 1978, he would draw the post-apocalypse hero Sabre to resemble the late Jimi Hendrix.
Synopsis: Shang-Chi breaks into his father’s skyscraper headquarters and defeats Satma, a member of Fu Manchu’s elite Cult of Si-Fan Assassins. He leaves a note for his father saying “First Move – Shang-Chi” on Satma’s unconscious body.
Later, Shang is approached by Sir Denis and Black Jack Tarr. The trio consult and, with all parties agreeing to set aside the past, Shang-Chi becomes one of Nayland-Smith’s agents working to bring down Fu Manchu. Denis has the murder charge against our hero dropped and sends him to Miami as an advance agent to determine what Fu Manchu is up to at his new smuggling operation there.
Shang-Chi infiltrates the outpost, headquartered in an old, abandoned fortress from the 1800s. From there he again confronts his father, who reveals that he has been smuggling petroleum laced with a derivative of mimosa. He will once again be using human guinea pigs, in this case Americans, to test this process he has just developed.
When Americans unsuspectingly use the gasoline/ mimosa mixture in their vehicles it will fill the air with Fu Manchu’s odorless chemicals which will reduce people to his mindless thralls. (It’s a comic book. Just go with it.) In order to allow his Si-Fan assassin Satma to make up for his earlier defeat at Shang-Chi’s hands he is pitting him against his son once more, this time in a battle to the death.
Fu throws in a twist, however. Since the penalty for failing him like Satma did in New York by falling to Shang-Chi is death, Satma’s shot at “redeeming his honor” will involve him drinking a chemical formula. That formula will triple the Si-Fan’s speed and reflexes to give him an advantage over our hero, but as a side effect it will burn out his metabolism, killing him in roughly nine minutes.
Shang-Chi and Satma battle for a while, with the Si-Fan agent winding up on fire from a torch. This leads to one of Fu Manchu’s weapons magazines in the fortress exploding. Amid the ensuing chaos, Shang-Chi blows up his father’s entire supply of the petroleum/ mimosa mixture and dives into the sea to escape.
MASTER OF KUNG FU #19 (August 1974)
Villains: Si-Fan Assassins and the Man-Thing
NOTE: This is a crossover story with Marvel Comics’ horror character the Man-Thing, a swamp monster who used to be the human scientist Ted Sallis.
Synopsis: Picking up right after the events of last issue, Shang-Chi is being pursued through the Florida Everglades by some of Fu Manchu’s Si-Fan assassins, who have instructions to kill our hero for thwarting his father’s latest plan.
Here and there he pauses to defeat some of the Si-Fan then continues fleeing. He encounters the Man-Thing and the two battle for awhile. Shang-Chi escapes the Man-Thing with help from a wandering martial artist named Lu Sun, who is drawn by Paul Gulacy to resemble David Carradine, then-star of the Kung Fu tv series. Gulacy drew Lu Sun with a Fu Manchu moustache, which might have been an acknowledgement that David’s father John Carradine played Fu Manchu in a 1952 television show.
While Shang-Chi and Lu Sun rest from Shang’s pursuers for a few minutes, our hero recalls an incident from his childhood. A Chinese schoolmate named K’uei Meng once told him that his father Fu Manchu was an evil man who committed atrocities against the world at large. The young Shang naively asked his father about this and Fu assured him it was all lies. But K’uei Meng was never seen again.
Elsewhere, on a nearby Florida road, a convoy of trucks rolls along with Fu Manchu concealed in the lead vehicle. Boiling with anger, he is fleeing his fortress with empty trucks that WOULD be carrying his petroleum/ mimosa mixture if not for Shang-Chi.
The convoy is suddenly attacked by Sir Denis Nayland-Smith, Black Jack Tarr and several armed American and British soldiers. Fu Manchu’s men return fire and are all defeated in the ensuing battle but Fu Manchu himself escapes.
Back with Shang-Chi, he and Lu Sun exchange some philosophical musings on the nature of father-son relationships and the concept of revenge. Some pursuing Si-Fan agents abruptly attack, injuring Lu Sun and then battling Shang-Chi.
Through bad luck, Shang winds up in quicksand during the fight. The Man-Thing shambles onto the scene and is attacked by the Si-Fan. The swamp monster kills the assassins, then mindlessly wanders off as Lu Sun rescues Shang-Chi from the quicksand. The pair exchange goodbyes and go their separate ways.
MASTER OF KUNG FU #20 (September 1974)
Title: Weapon of the Soul
Villains: Demmy Marston and Korain the Samurai
NOTE: Master of Kung Fu is now published monthly instead of bi-monthly.
Synopsis: At Miami Beach, three hitmen in diving suits emerge from the ocean and try to kill the visiting Shang-Chi. Our hero defeats all of them and forces one of them to reveal that they were sent by Demmy Marston, a Miami drug and gambling kingpin.
Marston wants to kill Shang-Chi for the way some of his trucks and ships were collateral damage in our hero’s recent defeat of Fu Manchu’s smuggling operation. Fu was using Marston’s existing network as part of his plans.
Elsewhere, we join Marston and his moll Diana on his massive yacht the Sweet Home. Demmy and his yacht travel around the Florida Keys running an illegal onboard gambling casino for high-rollers and corrupt politicians. When Marston is informed that Shang-Chi survived the attempt to kill him, Demmy hires Korain, who is an actual practicing samurai for hire.
Later, Shang-Chi surreptitiously boards the Sweet Home. After making his way past some of the drug lord’s armed guards he bursts into Marston’s bedroom, where he and Diana were having an argument. Demmy calls in Korain, who begins battling Shang-Chi.
Our hero is puzzled that Korain is still so able-bodied and skilled at combat since he remembers Korain having been in his father’s employ for several decades even when he (Shang-Chi) was only a child. Korain reveals that he had so distinguished himself in Fu Manchu’s service that the insidious villain rewarded him with periodic vials of the Elixir of Life, the secret formula which had kept Fu himself alive for nearly 200 years thus far.
(The Elixir of Life is also from the Fu Manchu novels.)
Korain dies in the battle, and, while trying to kill Shang-Chi with his dying breath, accidentally kills Diana instead, filling Marston with grief.
NOTE: Yes, samurai are Japanese, not Chinese, but in the Fu Manchu novels he always employed Asians from all nations in his crusade to conquer the hated white race and the western world.
MASTER OF KUNG FU #21 (October 1974)
Title: Season of Vengeance, Moment of Death
Villain: Demmy Marston
Synopsis: Demmy Marston has been blaming Shang-Chi’s interference for the death of his girlfriend Diana (whom he was always smacking around, anyway, in typical gangster fashion). The drug lord puts out a general contract on Shang.
Some of Marston’s hitmen find Shang-Chi visiting Marineland and try to kill him there in a running battle throughout the theme park. After narrowly avoiding being eaten by a shark, our hero winds up overwhelmed by superior odds from his foemen and is knocked out.
When he regains consciousness he finds he is on a tiny island in the Florida Keys. Demmy Marston and his men are all around him. Marston plans to kill Shang-Chi very slowly and painfully. Without warning, Fu Manchu’s troops attack, killing all of Marston’s men.
A helicopter lands and Fu Manchu himself emerges, holding a viper. He walks up to Demmy Marston, who is being held in place by Fu’s men. He has the viper bite and kill the drug lord. Fu Manchu then informs Shang-Chi that he wants his son to die only on his own orders and in a manner of his own choosing. He and his men then depart before authorities can arrive.
MASTER OF KUNG FU #22 (November 1974)
Title: A Fortune of Death
Villain: Fu Manchu
Synopsis: Shang-Chi is dining at a Chinese restaurant in New York when he is attacked by multiple Si-Fan assassins sent by his father. Naturally our hero triumphs over all of them. Sir Denis and Black Jack Tarr show up to extricate Shang-Chi from any potentially negative repercussions from all this.
Next, the two Brits explain to him that Fu Manchu must have wanted him killed because, per word they have gotten, the villain is about to carry out another big operation. Ignoring Nayland-Smith’s warnings, Shang-Chi goes to his father’s skyscraper HQ to confront him.
Denis and Black Jack follow but get captured by Fu Manchu’s men. Shang-Chi, surreptitiously making his way through the building, notices this and secretly stows away on the aircraft that Fu Manchu has the captives loaded on to. (Yes, even in the novels Fu loved to operate on the flawed villain logic which always compels him to refrain from just immediately killing the heroes when they are helpless and in his clutches.)
In this case Fu Manchu takes his captives (and the stowed away Shang-Chi) to South Dakota. The “big operation” that Nayland-Smith got vague word about is now revealed – Fu is going to blow up Mount Rushmore. As a bonus, since Sir Denis and Black Jack Tarr have fallen into his hands, their bodies will be at ground zero of the explosion.
After Fu taunts his foes and leaves, Shang-Chi comes out of hiding and frees his two friends while also saving Mount Rushmore from being blown to bits.
MASTER OF KUNG FU #23 (December 1974)
Title: River of Death
Villains: Wilhelm Bucher and Fu Manchu
Synopsis: While Shang-Chi is visiting the Statue of Liberty, Black Jack Tarr approaches him and informs him that he is needed immediately. Another hot tip regarding his father’s activities has just surfaced. Soon our hero is with Smith and Tarr on a jet for South America.
During the flight Smith briefs Shang-Chi about the mission. Fu Manchu has located Wilhelm Bucher, a Nazi War Criminal hiding in South America. (Yes, even in the 70s and later they were still finding Nazi War Criminals in hiding.) In exchange for not exposing Bucher’s location to the entire world Fu wants top secret Nazi weapon plans which are in the German’s possession.
Those plans are for one of the “Wonder Weapons” which Hitler kept claiming were being developed and which would help the Nazis win the war. Bucher has been sitting on them for years, planning to use them to negotiate for his safety if he was ever tracked down.
De-planing and then driving to the Amazon River, Shang-Chi, Smith and Tarr meet up with Raymond Strawn, a charter boat operator hired by Smith to take them along the river to intercept Fu Manchu before he can reach Bucher. Once they are deep in the jungle, Si-Fan assassins attack Strawn’s boat, leaping onto it from overhanging branches.
Shang-Chi, Tarr and Strawn successfully fight off the Si-Fan, and when Sir Denis is knocked overboard during the battle, our hero has to save him from an alligator. Days later, Strawn’s boat overtakes the vessel with Fu Manchu and more of his men on board.
Our heroes raid the other ship and, after killing off more of Fu Manchu’s men, learn that he himself is not on board. He just let Smith’s agents and Wilhelm Bucher THINK he was arriving by boat but is really coming in a helicopter. Shang-Chi was wounded in the battle and fell overboard.
The furious Strawn now pulls a gun on Sir Denis and Black Jack. He reveals that HE is really Wilhelm Bucher, and he was hoping to intercept Fu Manchu and kill him so that he wouldn’t have to give up his ace-in-the-hole Wonder Weapon plans.
Since Fu outmaneuvered him, and because Bucher assumes Shang-Chi died when he was shot and fell in the river, he tells Nayland-Smith and Tarr that he wants them to move back aboard the now-disabled Si-Fan boat. He then races off in his own speedy boat toward his hidden lair, further along the river where his loyal Nazi troops await.
MASTER OF KUNG FU #24 (January 1975)
Title: Massacre Along The Amazon
Villains: Wilhelm Bucher and Fu Manchu
Synopsis: While Sir Denis and Black Jack struggle to get the abandoned Si-Fan boat in operable condition, Shang-Chi is revealed to have survived, after all, though wounded. He detects a large number of Fu Manchu’s troops moving through the jungle in the general direction of Bucher’s Nazi fortress and silently follows them.
Wilhelm Bucher himself arrives back at that fortress along the Amazon River. He leaves his ship and tells his men that Fu Manchu was not on the boat after all and to prepare for a possible attack from another direction. Nearby, Fu has his helicopter pilot land for a rendezvous in the jungle with his own forces.
Those forces arrive, with Shang-Chi still secretly shadowing them. Fu Manchu orders one battalion of his men to launch a frontal attack on Bucher’s fortress while the other battalion moves around in the jungle to attack the fort from the rear. Shang-Chi follows the troops moving to attack from behind.
Soon the frontal assault has begun and the Fu Manchu men in the rear of the fort await the signal from their supreme leader to begin their own attack. With machine guns blazing, Bucher and his Nazis battle Fu’s men amid a frenzy of bullets and falling bodies.
At length Fu Manchu shoots off a flare gun, giving the other battalion of his men the signal to launch their assault from the rear. Bucher rallies his men to handle this new threat and reminds his troops that they can’t allow “inferior races” to defeat “proud Aryans” like themselves.
Presently, Shang-Chi’s presence is detected and he winds up caught in the middle of the battle, fighting both his father’s men AND Bucher’s neo-Nazis. At one point he seeks shelter in what looks like a normal Quonset hut but is shocked to see that it is really a cover for a missile silo already dug into the ground long ago.
Bucher doesn’t just have “plans” for one of Hitler’s alleged “Wonder Weapons” but has constructed one – an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile with a nuclear warhead. While such a missile was certainly far ahead of anything the Allied Armies had in 1945, plenty of nations had them by 1975. His father has been wasting his time unknowingly pursuing a secret “Wonder Weapon” which is really anything BUT.
That still doesn’t make this one any less deadly, and Shang-Chi, from the advanced education his father gave him in weapons technology, sees that it is aimed at an American city in Florida. While the firefight outside continues, Bucher arrives in the Quonset hut now and seeing our hero messing with his missile he attacks him.
While Shang and Wilhelm fight it out, Bucher’s men at last kill off the rest of Fu Manchu’s troops. In turn, those Nazis are shot to death by machine-gun fire from Sir Denis Nayland-Smith and Black Jack Tarr, who had gotten the damaged boat working and have arrived just in time.
Back to the Shang-Chi vs Wilhelm Bucher fight, Bucher succeeds in wounding our hero with a knife, then tries to launch his missile to keep it out of Nayland-Smith’s hands. It won’t fire and Shang informs him that he had already sabotaged it to prevent it from working.
In his renewed fury, Bucher accidentally falls down a second missile silo which was being built in the ground and splats to his death far below. Shang-Chi, Sir Denis and Black Jack are reunited, but hear the sound of Fu Manchu and his helicopter pilot taking off, meaning their old adversary has once again escaped.
MASTER OF KUNG FU #25 (February 1975)
Title: Rites of Courage, Fists of Death (despite what the cover says)
Villains: The Jivaro Headhunters
Synopsis: With the fuel tanks in both boats punctured during last issue’s firefight, Shang-Chi, Black Jack Tarr and Sir Denis Nayland-Smith have been trekking through the jungle to make their way to their arranged airplane rendezvous at a jungle airstrip. (Presumably they radioed for this along with word for someone to come and confiscate Bucher’s ICBM in between issues.)
Shang-Chi hears the cry of a baby off in the distance and, rather than let his two British friends know this, he just sneaks off to investigate on his own for no reason. Noticing him gone, Tarr complains about the way Shang always makes his own rules but Nayland-Smith reminds him that our hero always has good reasons for the unpredictable things he does.
Shang-Chi finds a crying Jivaro infant in the middle of a clearing with a jaguar about to pounce on it. Our title character knows the beast is just acting on honest hunger, so he doesn’t kill it, he just uses mild martial arts blows to tire it out while keeping it away from the baby. At long last the jungle cat slinks away.
Hearing distant sounds from a Jivaro village, Shang-Chi takes the baby there where its obvious mother rushes toward him to take her baby but she is prevented by the men of the village. Shang-Chi proffers the infant to one of those men but, seeing that the man raises a machete to kill the baby, kicks the Jivaro man into unconsciousness instead. An argument breaks out among the tribe members in their own language.
Conveniently, a Si-Fan employee of Fu Manchu has fallen into the hands of the Jivaro and is being held bound to a stake in the village. He informs Shang-Chi that he was posted in this part of South America because he can speak the Jivaro’s language, but unfortunately got captured by them during the previous day’s jungle maneuvers by Fu Manchu’s troops. They plan to eventually behead him and then shrink his head.
NOTE: Even now, in 2021, the Jivaro are known for waging war on neighboring tribes in the Amazon Jungle and for head-hunting, so it is NOT incorrect to depict them engaging in such behavior back in 1975.
Translating for Shang-Chi, in the usual exaggerated courtesy that Fu Manchu and his minions always showed in conversations with their adversaries, the captive Si-Fan tells our hero that the baby was born during a full moon. Such births are considered unlucky by the Jivaro, so the infant was taken from its mother and left to die in the jungle.
The baby is still targeted for death, however, but the chief has decided that, rather than just have the child murdered, he will put its fate back in the hands of the gods by having Shang-Chi fight for its life through a gauntlet of Jivaro warriors. The chief has had coals heated to add another element against our hero.
Shang-Chi must walk along the heated coals with the baby in his arms. Jivaro men with machetes and spears are standing in a long line on both sides of the heated coals and will try to kill Shang and/or the baby as he walks along.
Fighting the Jivaros with just his legs and feet while shielding the baby’s body with his own, our hero succeeds in getting himself and the infant through the gauntlet. The chief is impressed by this display of incredible fighting ability and is prepared to let the child live.
Unfortunately, the chief’s rival refuses to go along, claiming it is wrong to disregard their cultural customs. The rival spears the chief to death and leads his men in an attack on the chief’s still-loyal men AND on Shang-Chi, intent on having the baby killed.
Shang hands off the infant to its mother and joins in the fight. In the end our hero’s side wins and the baby is allowed to live. The tribe offers our hero a boon as a parting gift. To the delight of the captive Si-Fan translator, our hero says to tell the chief’s new successor that he wants the Si-Fan set free.
As Shang-Chi and the Si-Fan assassin make their way through the jungle, Fu Manchu’s man eventually makes it clear that he plans to continue working for Fu. However, if he has to return and say that he did not try to kill Shang-Chi while he had the chance he will be put to death by his insidious master anyway.
Sadly and reluctantly, Shang faces the Si-Fan in battle, with the result that the assassin is knocked to his death off a nearby cliff. Our hero now moves on to track the route taken by Tarr and Smith through the jungle. He does so and arrives at the airstrip where Black Jack greets him with good-natured grumbling about making them wait.
MASTER OF KUNG FU #26 (March 1975)
Title: Daughter of Fu Manchu
Villain: Fah Lo Suee
NOTE: Fah Lo Suee, Fu Manchu’s daughter, also appeared in the Fu Manchu novels by Sax Rohmer.
Synopsis: In El Kharga, Egypt, Sir Denis Nayland-Smith meets in a restaurant with young Lord Robert Greville, the archaeologist son of his late agent Lord Shan Greville (Shan was also from the Fu Manchu novels but Robert was a Marvel Comics creation). They discuss Robert’s latest archaeological dig in which he is searching for the Golden Beetle of Pharaoh Seth-Amon, said to be in the never-discovered burial chamber of that pharaoh.
Sir Denis has reason to believe that Robert is being manipulated to search for the Golden Beetle by Fu Manchu’s femme fatale daughter, Fah Lo Suee. Robert vehemently denies it and insists that Sir Denis is just prejudiced against her because she’s Fu’s daughter.
Nayland-Smith explains that (like in the novels) Fah Lo Suee has broken off from her father and is leading her own separate faction of Si-Fan assassins in a struggle for control of Fu Manchu’s empire AND the world at large. He explains to Robert how Fah Lo Suee for a time had seduced his father, Lord Shan Greville, with her feminine wiles and had tried using him against the Western World.
NOTE: That, too, comes from the Fu Manchu novels. In fact, even though Shan Greville ultimately dumped Fah Lo Suee and turned against her to help Sir Denis, she remained infatuated with Shan. When Shan wound up marrying another woman in the novels, Fu Manchu himself sent courteous good wishes to the newlyweds in that aforementioned exaggerated courtliness he often showed his opponents in non-combat situations.
Back to the story, Nayland-Smith warns Robert that he has heard that Fu Manchu has also arrived in Egypt to try to beat his daughter and her forces to the Golden Beetle.
Shang-Chi arrives at the restaurant where he senses the presence of his father and his men. To Sir Denis’ astonishment, the disguised Fu Manchu was, indeed, sitting at the next table. The troops that Shang detected also reveal themselves and in the subsequent battle with Shang-Chi succeed in spiriting away their insidious leader.
Not even all of this has persuaded Robert Greville to turn his back on Fah Lo Suee. (Talk about thinking with your man-parts!) He leaves the restaurant in anger. Shang-Chi recalls his very first meeting with his much older half-sister Fah Lo Suee (who uses vials of the Elixir of Life stolen from her father to stay young and beautiful).
Fu Manchu had introduced the two of them, and then had left them alone to become better acquainted. (Get your minds out of the gutter, people!) Fah Lo Suee had flattered and charmed him and noted how successful he was in the various disciplines that their father was having him trained in. She also casually mentioned that a day might come when they both would wind up having to stand united against their overbearing father.
Shang-Chi guards Sir Denis while the Britisher does research at a nearby library. He reads that the reason the Golden Beetle is considered enchanted is because the jeweled eyes of the Golden Beetle are said to possess the power to enthrall anyone so that they will obey whoever owns that Beetle.
Nayland-Smith and Shang quickly go to Lord Robert Greville’s residence (no, I don’t know where Black Jack Tarr and the rest of Sir Denis’ agents are in this story). Shang-Chi discovers Greville gone and a member of his father’s faction of the Si-Fan searching through the archaeologist’s papers for clues to his whereabouts. They battle and Shang naturally emerges triumphant.
Our hero discovers Greville’s notes and a map to where he believes the Pharaoh Seth-Amon’s burial chamber is located. He and Sir Denis race to the location to find that Robert and Fah Lo Suee are just now breaking into and entering the chamber.
While Nayland-Smith confronts Robert and Fu Manchu’s daughter, Shang-Chi winds up protecting the Brits from attacks by both warring factions of the Si-Fan. In the end the burial chamber and everything in it gets blown up in the battle.
Outside in the sands, Shang and Sir Denis find Robert Greville dead from poison administered by Fah Lo Suee. He is of no further use to her now that she has the ruby eyes from the Golden Beetle. The eyes – which she will be wearing as earrings when she makes her next appearance against Shang-Chi – will help her recruit even more of her father’s operatives away from him. Both Fu Manchu and his daughter make their separate escapes.
NOTE: It’s not unusual for the insidious Dr Fu Manchu to be striking in Egypt. In one of the novels he was operating there as part of a scheme to support a false Mahdi who would – he hoped – lead a jihad to drive the European powers out of the Middle East.
PLEASE NOTE: Marvel no longer has the rights to do Fu Manchu stories, so the movie will instead depict Shang-Chi as the son of Iron Man’s archenemy the Mandarin. They might also have considered making him the son of the Yellow Claw aka the Golden Claw, a 1950s Marvel Comics imitation of Fu Manchu, complete with an evil “grand-niece” named Suwan, instead of a daughter named Fah Lo Suee.
Ultimately, Marvel brought back the Yellow/ Golden Claw in the 1970s, when he became a frequent foe of Captain America and S.H.I.E.L.D.
At any rate, that’s twelve stories! Some of Shang-Chi’s most colorful foes were yet to come, like Razor-Fist (who is in the upcoming movie), Mordillo, Carlton Velcro, Shockwave and the sultry but deadly Pavane.
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